Longan are small (2-3cm), spherical fruit with a light brown colouration. They grow on long stems in bunches on large trees. The trees are very sensitive to frost and grow best in moist tropical zones on sandy soils.
The fruit peel is slightly hairy and feels a little ‘dusty’ as a result. It is fairly thin and becomes a little brittle after harvest, so can be removed quite easily. The flesh is juicy, translucent with an opaque white appearance, and covers a single shiny black stone. The peel and stone are not eaten, but the flesh has a fragrant aroma and delicious sweetness and flavour, much prized in SE Asian countries. Longan are often compared to lychee and rambutan as there are similarities between the three, especially in the type of flesh: lychee is usually deemed to have the best flavour.
Origin: Southern China / northern Myanmar.
Family: Sapindaceae (also contains lychee and rambutan).
Names: Dimocarpus longan; Longan; Dragon-eye fruit.
Grown In: China, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia.
Why Eat Longan: The flavour of a good longan is wonderful, and most evocative of the humidity and heat of tropical SE Asia.
Longan have particularly high levels of vitamin C.
In Chinese herbal medicine, longan, particularly when dried, is believed to help with relaxation.
Quality & Buying: Longan should ideally be bought in bunches without the individual fruit being removed from the stems. Removal from the stems increases deterioration of the fruit. The fruit should be firm and dry, and without obvious soft spots or signs of leaking juice.
In far flung markets such as Europe, the fruit are often removed from the stems to be sold in punnets or boxes. This means that shelf-life is reduced, so it is better to consume the fruit within a day or two of purchase, otherwise they become soft and flavour can be adversely affected. As longan are tropical fruit, they are best kept out of the fridge.
Nutrition (1 serving = 100g):
- Very high vitamin C: 140% dv (cell health: skin, blood vessel, bone, cartilage; wound healing)
- High riboflavin: 8% dv (help the body build red blood cells; support cellular functions that provide energy, including the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates)
- Low calories: 3.0% dv (60 kcal/100g)
- Low Glycaemic Load: 6 (less than 10 = low effect on blood sugars)
- Sugars: 14% of longans are sugar carbohydrates
(Daily Value (dv) % of a 2000 kcal per day diet from 100g of longan)(Source: USDA SR-21)
Harvest & Availability: On sale in UK:
- May: Vietnam
- June: Vietnam
©Good Fruit Guide 2017. Information and data published on www.goodfruitguide.co.uk must not be reproduced or copied without permission of the editor. Recommendations on fruit varieties and types with the very best taste are personal to the editor of Good Fruit Guide, and do not attempt to be exhaustive or supported by verifiable consumer research. The highlighting of fruit with the very best taste in the opinion of the editor is not intended as a judgement on the taste of varieties and types of fruit not mentioned.