Longan: Delicious Healthy Tropical Fruit

Longan Fruit: You can't just eat one.

courtesy of karmafreecooking.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/.
courtesy of karmafreecooking.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/.

Fruit stalls are a common sight in Singapore. The choices are staggering. Large and gruff jackfruit, kiwi-like alike chikus, shocking pink dragon fruit with whiskers, rambutans with hairs (hence the name, red hairy fruit), soursop with spikes and the formidable thorny durians with a smell to match. Where do I stop? Mangosteen, buarukoo (I don’t even the proper name for this fruit), blushing lycees , and the frightfully bitter noni fruit. All vying for attention, all screaming, “Pick me!”

Invariably, I bend over and pick LONGANS.

I know, Lycee has a far better reputation, in terms of size or taste and longan is often referred to as the “little brother of lycee.” It even has a little pet name, “li-chihnu,” meaning “slave of lychee.” But since I’m always a fan of the underdog and the unrepresented, I go for longan instinctively.

But more than empathy, I think longan has a more interesting flavor-- smoky and sulky and delightfully succulent.

Fruits Stands with an amazing selection of fruits in Asia.

courtesy of horsedeals.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/fruit.jpg
courtesy of horsedeals.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/fruit.jpg

The Fruit

If you have not seen a longan before, it looks like a little round globe (half to one inch in diameter), with yellow-brown to reddish-brown skin, which yields easily when peeled. Inside is a translucent almost whitish flesh encasing a black or brown seed. It resembles an eye-ball, hence the name “pinyin,” or dragon’s eye.

But don’t let the eye scare you, the flesh is delicious and comes off easily—just pop it in your mouth. But if you think that defy proper manners, use a knife to dislodge flesh instead.

They are often sold in bunches or in cute wicker baskets, lined with leaves to protect these gems.

For more scientific details, read:

Longan by Purdue

History

Longan is indigenous to Southern China, found growing in high elevations between 500 to 1,500 feet on the provinces of Kwangtung, Kwangsi, Schezwan and Fukien.  These tall trees, often growing up to a height of 50 feet were introduced to India in 1798. However, Indian literature adverted to the fact that Longan is not only native to China but to southwestern India and the forests of upper Assam and the Garo hills as well. Presently, longan trees can be found in Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, even Malaysia and the Philippines.

In 1903, Longan trees from southern China were introduced to Florida by the United States of Agriculture. Although they flourished in a few locations, they never became popular.  But from my sightings of the longan fruits at the Asian markets of late, I suspect the popularity will grow.

Longans grow in bunches.

courtesy of www.nipahutgardens.com/prodimages/longan.jpg
courtesy of www.nipahutgardens.com/prodimages/longan.jpg


Nutrition

They may be little in size but they pack a punch in terms of nutrition. Check out the nutritional profile:

Nutrients Value per 100g

Protein 1.31 g

Fat (Lipid) 0.10 g

Carbohydrates 15.15 g

Magnesium 10 g

Potassium 266 g

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 65 g

Iron 0.13 g Riboflavin 0.150 g

Niacin 0.300 g

Medicinal Uses

The Chinese has a long history of using longan (particularly the dried forms) for medicinal purposes and they feature prominently in Chinese desserts herbal soups. Although these traditional cures are not scientifically proven, they remain an important part of Asian traditional medicine.

  • The flesh of longan is a remedy for stomachache, helps to reduce fever, kill parasites in the intestines and is generally regarded as an antidote for poison.
  • The fruit invigorates the heart and spleen and has a calming effect on the nervous system.
  • The dried flesh is used as a tonic in herbal soups or desserts to treat insomnia and neurasthenic neurosis.
  • The pulverized kernel of the fruit contains saponin, tannin and fat which is effective in stopping hemorrhage or the flow of blood.
  • In Vietnam, the seed is often used as an antiseptic for snakebite.

Almond Jelly with longans.

courtesy of 2.bp.blogspot.com/.../DYjMD5XWFLs/s1600/055.JPG
courtesy of 2.bp.blogspot.com/.../DYjMD5XWFLs/s1600/055.JPG

Uses

Longans are best eaten fresh. The fresh can be added to dessert or juice to make a popular drink, called, Longan drink (what else?). Fresh longans will stay fresh when refrigerate anywhere from 5 to 7 days, in some cases, longer.

Canned longans can be found in Asian supermarket and these make good fruit salads, desserts and they can also be added to Chinese dishes.

The flesh of longans are dried to induce longer shelf life. They should be kept in airtight jars in a cool place.

For recipes using longans, check these out:

Longan Fruit

Popular Longan Dessert, can be eaten hot or cold

Almond Jelly with Longan

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

I actually just bought some longans from an Asian store yesterday! They are one of my favorite fruits. In Thai, we call them "lum yai".

Nice hub. Thumbs up! :)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Om, thanks for dropping by. I love them too. In Singapore, we call them, "Lak oin." Absolutely my favorite and by the way, I love visiting Thailand--love the food and people.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

I love longans too! I'm glad that you wrote about them. Yes, like lychees, they are great combined with almond jelly for that refreshing dessert.

I wasn't aware of their medicinal uses. It's great to know about them.

Thanks for this very useful hub my friend!

God bless!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Anginwu, I will have to try an Asian store as I am not familiar with these fruits and they look good. I love trying new things. This is an interesting hub.


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors

Being pregnant (again!) I'm always on the lookout for new foods to try. Longans look delicious. Thanks for an informative and visually appealing read!


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

I am not familiar with longan but enjoy a lot of the 'Asian' fruits and will seek this one out.


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

I've heard of this fruit, however, I have not had a chance to try it yet. But, I've heard it is very, very delicious. Anglnwu, you do such a great job composing your hubs. Thanks so much for sharing! Rating up! :)


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Very interesting, thanks for sharing. I hope to try one soon.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Jill, I miss you--will email u soon. Thanks for taking time off to comment. Now, we're longan buddies as well. The Chinese have used the dried flesh for centuries for health benefits. Now, you know you're eating more than a mouthful of delicious fruit. Appreciate your visit and talk to u soon.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Pamela, thanks for your comments. Visit your Asian store--they carry canned longans and sometimes, fresh ones (they're seasonal and June to late summer is the time). As always, a pleasure to have you drop by.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

wannab, first off--congratulations! Glad you're adventurous. Longans may take some getting used to, especially if you haven't tried it before but once you acquire a taste for it, you'll find it very pleasing. Thanks again.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Billy, glad you enjoy Asian fruit. Check them out at the Asian stores. Thanks for commenting.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Money, appreciate your kind words very much and thanks for rating it up. Give longans a try--they're delicious. They also have longan flavor when you order Boba tea. Have a great day.!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

oceanssunsets, you're very welcome. Try them soon.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

I have never tasted longan fruit. I think I will now.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Sandy, yeah! Good trying.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA

When we lived in Israel, I always used to buy this fruit from the market.... maybe I am mistaken, it was called lychee (or litchi?) there... Or are these different fruits? Looks the same.... Does longan have two big glossy brown seeds inside? I am confused....


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Reuvera, it's always good to hear from u. Lychee and litchi is the same fruit but not the same as logan. Lychee has a reddish-brown outside and meatier, juicer inside. Many people prefer lychee to logan but I just love logan. Both fruits have only one seed inside. Thanks for dropping by and see u around.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Cool! This is one I'm not familiar with.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

habee, always so happy to see u. Thanks!


Kensonic 6 years ago

Eating too much of longan can cause sore throat.

This happen to me most of the time.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago Author

Kensonic, I have sore throat too if I eat too many. The Chinese people believe that longan is "heaty" fruit. Thanks for dropping by.


melodyandes profile image

melodyandes 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing, I love it.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

melodyandes, thanks for dropping by.


happypuppy profile image

happypuppy 5 years ago

I love fresh longans. We have a lot of longans here this season..in NYC. I use the dried longan with chicken to make soup (it's delicious!) - a Chinese dish :)


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Longans are plentiful in the summer. I love them fresh, the canned ones are good too. Dried longans with chicken--sounds yummy. Thanks for commenting, happypuppy.


Angel Palisoc 5 years ago

I really love longan I can eat 1kilo all by myself


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago Author

Hi Angel, haha, me too. I can eat one basketful of them. Thanks for commenting.


Hemlata 4 years ago

Love this fruit, once i start,,, i can't stop :-)))


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Hemlata, me too. Once I start, no one can stop me--I'm going through the whole basket. Haha--but Chinese people believe that taking too many of this fruit can be "heaty."

Thanks for your comments.


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

What a wonderful variety of fruits you shared...it would be fantastic to go on a 'tasting trip' just to try them all. I have not had the longans either, but maybe I could find them in a specialty market. Enjoyed reading your descriptions, and I do envy your fruit supply!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Thanks, frogyfish, for dropping by to comment. You can actually find longans in the Asian market now, at the right season. They're very delicious...try some the next time you visit the Asian market. Thanks.


googlepandaupdate profile image

googlepandaupdate 4 years ago from Malaysia

good article!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Author

Thanks, googlepandaupdate.

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