The longan, or Dimocarpus longan, is a tropical tree native to tropical Asia and China. The earliest recorded mention of the longan tree dates back to the Han Dynasty in 200 BC. The trees started making their way out of Asia and into Florida, Hawaii, and California in the early 1900's.
Longan is a tropical fruit that is small and brown with a hard, but brittle outer shell. Once you shell the fruit, you will find a big black seed showing through translucent flesh, resembling an eyeball, which is why it literally translates to 'dragon eye' in Cantonese.
Longans start green and ripen to a beige-yellow or brown color.
Longans start green and ripen to beige-yellow or brown color. When all the green is gone from fruit, test to make sure the outer shell is dry and brittle. If so, they're ripe and ready to eat!
The first way is to eat a longan is to gently bite the outer shell, just enough to crack it. Then you can peel it away and pop the whole fruit in your mouth, making sure to spit out the seed.
If you want to use longans in a fruit salad or as a snack for your children, you can use your fingernail or the tip of the knife to dig next to stem and peel the shell away. Cut the fruit in half and discard the seed.
We recommend removing the seeds prior to serving longans.
Longans love tropical climates, growing well throughout China, Vietnam, India, Thailand and the east coast of Australia.
In the U.S. you can also find them in Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Arizona and California.
Longans have long been used in Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. They are a wonderful snack incredibly high in antioxidants and vitamin C.
100 g of longans (approximately 33 longans) contains:
Longan season is typically the late summer. You can expect to find them from July to September in the US.
Longan is a wonderful snack eaten by itself but is also wonderful in sorbets, jellies, salads, smoothies, desserts, and puddings.
For a wonderful treat on a hot day, pop the whole fruit in the freezer – shell and all. Then eat them when you need that little refreshment, again, making sure to spit the seed out.
Longans are syrupy sweet with a tropical honey-like flavor, not unlike a melon. The texture is very much like a grape.
Ripe longan can be stored on the counter at room temperature for a few days.
They will last in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for about a week.
You can also freeze whole, unpeeled longans in a plastic bag in the freezer for up to a year.
The seeds of Longan fruit are toxic for dogs and should be removed prior to feeding.
The fruit of the longan is edible and good for dogs due to its high vitamin C content. It should be given in moderation, though, due to the high sugar content.
Longan fruit can be a little sticky, but don't pose a stain-risk to your clothes or upholstery.
Longan and lychee fruit are both part of the soapberry family. While very similar, there are a few differences. The first difference is the color, lychee are red while longan are brown. Longan have a firmer texture, are a bit smaller, and have a less aromatic flavor than lychee.