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What are Lychees?
Lychee is also found canned or dried. Slightly smaller than an apricot, fresh lychees make great lunch-bag additions, since the rind protects the fruit until you are ready to eat it. Canned lychees can be used to make a fruit cocktail more exotic and interesting. In the center of the lychee fruit is a hard seed or nut, which is discarded. It is inedible, like the rind, and slightly toxic.

Lychees are a rich source of Vitamin C, as well as calcium, potassium and phosphorus. They are often used in cooking to flavor a meat dish, much like pineapple or raisins are used to flavor a ham. Lychees are also pressed for juice, and pulped to make a sherbet dish which is very popular in China. They are also used to flavor tea.

Cultivation of the lychee has expanded outside of China, and lychees are now a popular export from Australia and are also grown in California and Florida. An unusual use of the lychee tree is to hive bees in the groves. The honey made by lychee grove bees is reported to have some of the flavor of the fruit itself. In China, lychees are prized not only for their flavor, but for purported medicinal properties – eating lychee fruit is suggested as a cure for a cough, digestive complaints and even ulcers.

Lychees will not ripen any further after they have been taken from the tree, so only ripe lychees should be picked. Unripened lychees have a bitter taste. Fresh lychees also have a short shelf life, so plan to use them as soon as possible.

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