Longan is a widely popular fruit among Asians, but it is the lesser known cousin of lychee in the Western countires.

Longan’s origin is southern China. Its name means ‘dragon eye’ in Chinese as the shelled fruit resembles an eyeball (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil). Nowadays, longan can be found growing throughout Southeast Asia, and fresh longans are available between July and September. Hardcore longan lovers can find canned or dried longans at Asian grocery stores year-round to satisfy their longan cravings.

Longan is similar to lychee and both belong to the same soapberry family. Longans grow on trees and each fruit round is attached to a stem. When you choose longan, look for those with dry, brown skin. Ripe longan flesh is white and translucent. It has a firmer texture than lychee flesh, and has a mild honey-sweet taste. There is always a hard and inedible black seed in the middle. If the skin looks mouldy or mushy, the fruit inside may be overripe. When the skin has more moisture content and is more tender, the fruit becomes less convenient to peel.

Tips for Eating Longans:

  1. Wash the longans before eating them as quite some dirt can settle on their outside skin.
  2. There are several ways to open a longan:
    1. You can take a light bite on the fruit, just enough so the shell cracks open (almost in half). Then squeeze the fruit out of its shell.
    2. You can dig your fingernail (or the tip of a vegetable knife) next to the stem and peel off the skin.
  3. You can pop the whole fruit in your mouth and then spit out the seed. Or you can cut the fruit in half and remove the seed manually.

Did You Know?

  • In traditional Chinese medicine, longan is used as a tonic for the heart, to improve eye function, and to help with insomnia.
  • Though longans are thought to give internal ‘heat’ in Chinese medicine, canned longans are great for ice popsicles to beat the summer heat.
  • Dried longan has a darker colour. Quality dried longans have a nice yellow colour, while secondary quality ones have a dark brown-yellow colour.
  • Red dates and (dried) longan tea is a popular winter drink to boost your blood circulation and warm you up on winter days.

To have a closer look at this longan fruit and learn how it tastes like, Emmy has tried them for you.

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About Anna de Waard-Leung

Anna loves her heels, wine, and food - in that exact order. Her latest food addictions include Shiraz Mourvèdre, chicken tikka masala, sushi, and ossenworst (a raw beef sausage originating in Amsterdam).


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11 Responses to "How to Eat: Longans"

  1. Natalie  23/08/2016

    What a great post! I’ve been wondering how to eat these. We like to try new things when we travel, but it isn’t always obvious how! 🙂

    • Anna de Waard  23/08/2016

      Thank you, Natalie. Let us know how you like them next time you try!

  2. Buena Montero  28/08/2016

    Yummy!!! I saw this at the Asian store the other day and I couldn’t resist:)

    • Anna de Waard  28/08/2016

      So did you like them?

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  5. Nicola Martinez  09/01/2018

    they are amazing I bought these at an asian store and was confused if you needed to cook them first but nope! I love them and they remind me of a smoother and lighter version of lychee

  6. Morgan  08/08/2018

    Neat! We have a Longan tree on our front yard. Until recently we had no idea the berries were edible. Then suddenly people started stopping by asking if they could pick some and telling us that oh yeah, in their culture they eat them all the time! It was pretty cool to learn. 🙂

  7. Grant Mary  07/02/2019

    I can buy these fresh at my local Asian market. I had them as a tea In Thailand, but the fresh ones are delicious and fun.

  8. Miriam  03/11/2019

    Thanks for the tips! My friend told me to try them but I was to embarrassed to ask how to eat them HAHAHAH

  9. Wanda  26/11/2019

    I’ve been trying to find this fruit since I moved from LA in 1972 but I was spelling it wrong


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