What a unique taste the luscious Longan has!
Sort of smokey and exotic, with lashings of juice. A kind of
Lychee with attitude.
The Longan is native to Southern China and Thailand. Longans
will grow in the Tropics and Sub-tropics
in areas where their cousins the
Lychee and Rambutan also flourish.
Longans will withstand lower temperatures than the lychee
however, and will grow happily in areas where it is too cool for the lychee.
The Longan is a modest little fruit, it certainly does not
catch the eye in the same way as the brazen scarlet Rambutan and the Lychee.
Both of whom , when ripe, are very easy to spot as they flaunt themselves
amongst the green foliage of the trees.
No, the Longan is a dusty, browny-yellow fruit which hangs
in clusters from the parent tree.
What makes the Longan a standout for me is its very unusual
smokey flavour. I have not tasted another fruit that is remotely similar in
It packs all the juicy goodness of a Lychee but with a
sophisticated hint of musky richness.
My son, Cappi, loves them. He adored them from the first
Others tend to find the interesting flavour of the Longan an
William F.Whitman, in his great work- 'Five Decades with
Tropical Fruit', says that the Longan is an acquired taste and he grew to love
it more and more over time. Eventually he became almost addicted to it.
I have to say that this is my experience also and I
appreciate the Longan much more now than when I first tried it.
A friend of mine made Longans the staple of her diet whilst
travelling in Thailand.
I think they are a fruit that would be so suitable for the
Tropical Thai climate as they are so refreshing and juicy.
In England, last year, Cappi and I discovered dried Longans
in a Chinese supermarket in Leicester. They were most delicious. The musky,
smoky and slightly spicy taste was more concentrated and they had a very
appealing chewy texture.
However, I must admit that I prefer the Longan fresh. I
think that the hydration power of fresh Longans combined with their
sophisticated flavour is a real winner!
The name for the Longan in Chinese is Lung-yen, which
translates as 'Dragon's Eye'; an fitting name for such an exotic and magical
Less romantically, the Longan is also often referred to as
'The Poor Man's Lychee'. A little unfair, as I think the two fruits have very
different characteristics. Also the Longan, as mentioned before, is more of an acquired taste.
I have also found the Longan referred to botanically as:-
I like the last name, it has a hint of the euphoric about
N. longana tends to be an older nomenclature.
I would definitely recommend the Longan as an interesting,
refreshing and most delightful fruit.