Longan fruit, also called "Dragon's Eye" fruit because of the white eye-shaped mark on the pit, is native to Asia and ranges in size from an olive to a small plum. It has a brown, bark-like skin that is easy to peel revealing a grayish-white translucent jelly-like fruit surrounding a round black inedible seed. Longans are in the same botanical family as lychees and rambutans. All three fruits are all known for having similar white flesh inside, with one inedible seed in the middle. All three fruits grow on trees and can be eaten straight off the branch. The differences are that the rambutan is often described as the most sweet and creamy, the lychee has a crisper, slightly less sweet flavor than a rambutan, and longans are the least sweet of the three and with a tart tinge. A longan is also the smallest of the three fruits. Its flesh has the consistency of a peeled grape and is incredibly juicy. Longans contain high levels of potassium and vitamin C.
Ripening and Storage:
This fruit is ripe when harvested and will be ready to eat when you receive them. Store longans in the fridge in a container or bag that is perforated to reduce moisture and condensation. Longans can be frozen in an airtight container for longer storage. Thaw just before using but leave fruit slightly frozen for best results.
The skin on a longan is thin and easy to peel using your fingers just like a lychee. Break into the skin so there is an opening for the flesh, then give the fruit a squeeze and the flesh should pop out in one solid ball. It can then be eaten fresh by putting the ball in your mouth and spitting out the seed when you are finished.
Longans are wonderful eaten raw, and can also be used in fruit salads, smoothies, desserts, cocktails, and sweet-and-sour dishes. They can be used in the same way as lychees or cherries.