Lychee is a subtropical fruit that’s gaining popularity all over the world. This is due to their juicy jelly-like flesh with a sweet taste. With their high sugar content, lychee tends to not last very long once it’s harvested.
So how long does lychee last? At room temperature, lychee fruit will last for 2 to 3 days. In the fridge, they will last for 5 to 7 days. Freezing lychee will keep them fresh for 6 months.
Above is just an approximate time of their shelf life. Other factors such as storage temperature and when it was harvested will determine how long they can actually last.
In this short guide, we’ll go in details on how long lychee will stay fresh, where to store them, and how to tell when they go bad.
Lychee Shelf Life
|Whole||2-3 Days||7-10 Days||6 Months|
|Peeled||4-6 Hours||5-6 Days||6 Months|
|Canned||1 Year Past Expiry Date||1 Year Past Expiry Date||Not Recommended|
How Long Does Lychee Last?
At room temperature, lychee will last for about 2 to 3 days. However, if the temperature of the room is very hot, you can expect them to last for only a day or so. Always keep them away from direct sunlight and other heat sources to keep them lasting longer.
If you’ve peeled them to eat or planning on using them to make smoothies or a dessert, make sure to use it within 6 hours. After that time, they will start losing their sweetness and begin to turn sour.
In the fridge, lychee will last for about 5 to 7 days. This applies to the whole fresh lychee and peeled lychee. They should be kept in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container. This will help the lychee fruit retain moisture.
Another option for whole fresh lychees would be to store them in the crisp section of the fridge. Placing them here will keep them fresh for about a week.
The freeze offers the longest shelf life. Keeping lychee in the freezer will keep them fresh for up to 6 months. After that, they are still safe to eat, but the quality will not be that good.
Lychee also comes as canned fruits. Like other canned foods, they will last for a very long time as long as the can is not damaged. You can expect the lychee fruit to last a year after the expiry date printed on the can.
How To Store Lychee
If you’re planning to eat lychee within a couple of days, leaving them in the kitchen or the pantry is fine. Make sure the lychee fruit is stored away from direct sunlight or any other heat sources.
Due to their tough skin, you can simply put them in a container or a bowl. There’s no need to cover the fruit with any covering.
For storage in the fridge, you have the option to store lychee as a whole fruit or store just the flesh. Both will stay in the fridge fresh up to 7 days.
If you’re storing them as whole fruit, it’s best to put them in the crisp section of the fridge. When storing them, it’s best to avoid storing them with other fruits that produce ethylene gas. Ethylene producing fruits includes apples, banana, and honeydew melons. Storing lychee with these types of fruits will cause the lychee to go bad quickly.
For storing just the lychee’s flesh, it’s best to store them in a container filled with syrup. The syrup will help retain the sweet flavor of the lychee. The container should be airtight to prevent any air from entering the container.
Besides the above for storing lychees, dehydrating lychee is another option to store the fruit. Some people like to dehydrate lychee fruits in an oven, while others like using a fruit dehydrator. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Using an oven can dehydrate a lot of lychee fruits at once, while a fruit dehydrator will allow a dozen lychees at a time.
Can You Freeze Lychee?
Lychee can be frozen and it freezes well in the freezer. You can freeze them as whole fruit, with the shell and seed. Another way to freeze them is just the flesh only. Depending on what you’ll be using them for, you should freeze them according to your usage.
If you’re planning to eat them fresh, it’s best to freeze the entire lychee fruit with the skin and seed. The hard shell of the lychee will help retain moisture and keep them fresh for a long time. In addition, the hard shell including the seed will help retain the texture of the lychee when it defrosts. Make sure to only freeze lychee that has no cuts on the skin. If you there are, freezer burn may occur.
For using them in a fruit salad or to make fruit smoothies, you can freeze just the flesh of the lychee. Since there are no seeds and shells to help retain their texture, after it thaws, the fruit will break into pieces. This makes them perfect for use in food that requires them to be blended.
How To Freeze Lychee
Freezing lychee is a simple quick process that requires no prepping and just some storage containers to hold the fruit. There are two ways to freeze lychee fruits depending on what you’ll be using them for. Below are the instructions to prepare the lychee for freezing:
Freezing Whole Lychee Fruit
- Remove the stem from each lychee fruit. Do this carefully not to rip or tear the skin of the fruit.
- Put them in a strainer basket or something similar.
- Wash all the lychee fruits to remove any containments and debris.
- Let them sit for half an hour to let them dry. You can also use a paper towel to pat them dry.
- Once they are dried, gently put them into a freezer bag.
- Leave about an inch of space at the top of the bag so you can zip the bag.
- Label the bag with the date and put the fruit into the freezer.
Freezing Lychee Fruit’s Flesh
- Wash the lychee fruit with clean water.
- Peel the skin of the lychee and remove the seed.
- Put the flesh into an airtight container or freezer bag. Leave about an inch of space at the top of the container or the bag.
- If using a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag. This will reduce the chances of them getting freezer burn.
- Seal the container or bag tightly.
- Label the container or bag with the date and put them into the freezer.
How To Keep Lychee Fresh Longer
Lychee has a hard thin skin that can keep it fresh for a long time. However, lychee that has a cut or has been handled improperly will have their shelf life shorten drastically. To keep lychee fresh longer, it starts from the time you purchase them.
When buying lychee you should check the appearance of it thoroughly. It will tell how good the quality of the lychee fruit is.
When it comes to the color of the fruit, always look for one that is pink or red. If there are any green color or a greenish shade on the skin, it’s best not to buy it. Lychee is on those fruits that don’t continue to ripen once it’s harvested.
Another thing to look for is if there are any cuts, tears, or blemishes on the skin of the fruit. A small cut on the fruit can make them go bad really quickly. Be sure to look at the base of the fruit where the stem is at. Sometimes, these fruits are harvested too aggressively and could have the stem torn away from the fruit. It might be a little hard to tell, but if you squeeze gently on the fruit, the fruit will open a bit if it’s torn.
Blemishes are the last thing to look for when buying lychee. If there’s any dark spotting or marks on the fruit, it’s best to not buy them. This usually means that the flesh is damaged and it’s going bad.
Lychee is a delicate fruit that requires gentle handling to keep them fresh longer. Once you get home, always wash the fruit under running water first. This is to remove any contamination that may be on the fruit.
Once they are washed, gently place them in a basket or a container. Don’t put too much lychee fruit in a basket. Too much lychee in a single basket could put too much pressure on the lychee at the bottom and could cause them to crack. Around 20 to 30 pieces of lychee in a basket should be sufficient.
If they are going to be stored at room temperature, every hour or so, mist the lychee fruit with water. Another option would be to put them under running water for a few seconds. This will help maintain their skin color and to help them retain moisture.
If they are not going to be consumed or used within 6 hours or so, store them in a resealable plastic bag and store them in the fridge. Keep lychee fruit refrigerated at about 5°C or 41°F. Also, maintain humidity at 90-98% to retain moisture.
How To Tell When Lychee Is Bad
Lychee is one of those fruits that doesn’t continue to ripen once it’s harvested. Therefore, right after harvesting, the quality of the fruit will start to decrease slowly. When they go bad, there are signs to look out for.
- Appearance – Lychee that is spoiled or about to go bad will be soft. If you gently squeeze it, it will soften and the skin may break open. Good quality lychee should be firm and not break under gentle pressure. If you gently press on it, the skin will crack open. Good quality lychee will not crack under light pressure. Beside dried skin, if there are any blemishes on the skin, the lychee is spoiled or about to be spoiled.
- Smell – Bad lychee will have an acidity smell to it. Fresh lychee will have a sweet aroma to it. If it’s any other smell them that sweet aroma, the lychee is probably bad and should be thrown away.
- Taste – When lychee goes bad, it will be fermented with a sour taste to it. Fresh lychee is sweet and juicy. If the lychee is any other flavor than sweet, it’s probably bad and you should throw them out.
What fruit is similar to lychee?
Lychee and rambutan are similar as both are tropical fruits that are sweet tasting and have a similar appearance. Both have white flesh with a big seed in the center. It’s covered by a red and bumpy outer skin.
The only difference is the rambutan fruit has soft long hair growing on the outer skin, while lychee just has small bumps on the skin.
Can you eat lychee skin?
The skin of the lychee fruit is edible, but it will not taste good if you try to eat it. The skin is bitter and has no nutritional value so it’s best to peel it away and eat the flesh that’s inside.