Litchi, one of those fruits that maybe you know by reputation, that you cross at the market or in some shop but that you don't have the "courage" to take, not knowing in depth its characteristics and properties. Let's find out what it tastes like, how it is eaten and why it can be useful at the table.
Comes from China this exotic fruit also called litchis, and belongs to the Sapindaceae family. It grows on a tree that can measure up to ten meters, decorated with evergreen long leaves. The lychees then appears in clusters and towards the end of autumn it is ripe and ready to be enjoyed, then we will find out how and why.
For those unfamiliar with this fruit, it is difficult to distinguish the varieties in circulation, but there are also more than 40, you can see it by looking the color, both of the peel and of the pulp.
Sowing is a sore point in the case of Litchi because once done, before we can reap the fruits of our work, up to 10 years may pass, moreover the first fruits will be rather bad and only with time, autumn after autumn, they will become tasty.
It is therefore a plant that requires patience and optimism, a shortcut is that of the grafting technique. Once we have the first Litchi in hand, also called Chinese grape or Chinese cherry, we can caress the thin green crust, if it is still unripe, and which gradually blushes, inside there is a rather large core, around which is the pulp, white.
China, from which it originates, together with India, is the largest producer of Litchi in the world, we in Italy are only at the beginning and there are some crops only in the South, of the species "Bengali Mauritius".
Litchi: how to eat it
We cannot judge a Litchi if we pick it and eat it unripe, only at the top of its maturation does it take on its true and pleasant flavor, first we will feel it instead gelatinous and it will seem tasteless to us. If the timing is wrong, the harvested fruit will not continue to ripen, if it is still on the plant we are careful not to expose it to too cold temperatures.
Detached from the plant, the Litchi remains consumable a week, until the shell becomes exaggeratedly dark: if it still is fresh and smells of pink, let's engrave it, cutting it in half to eat it. Directly, or in a fruit salad, or after making a sorbet or a base for rum cocktails.
Litchi can be eaten peacefully in modest quantities without having to worry about side effects, however, those who need to be more careful are people suffering from diabetes. Feasting on these fruits can bring you down nosebleeds and sore throat.
Imagine eating a special grape, if you have a Litchi in your hands, a fruit with a delicate and slightly acidic flavor. Red or pink, rough on the outside with More brown protruding "pimples", this fruit hides a particularly fleshy, white, translucent, succulent and sweet pulp but be careful because there is also the stone and it is not edible.
The first to stay bewitched by the goodness of Litchi it was the Chinese emperors, in ancient times, including Kao Tsu, who lived in 200 BC, who used these fruits as a currency to get local taxes paid. The themes were not yet known but today we know they contain 82% of water, 0.8% protein, 1.3% dietary fiber, 15.2% sugar, 0.4% fat and 0.4% ash.
As mineral salts, we find a lot of potassium and then copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, zinc, manganese and selenium, such as vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, K and J.
From antioxidants to anticancer ones, the Litchi it sports properties that we would not imagine contained in its ugly shell. I would like to start with the benefits to the circulatory system, thanks to vitamin B3 which facilitates the blood purification is prevents atherosclerosis. At the same time potassium and magnesium make it great for the heart, copper for blood circulation. There C vitamin in addition to protecting us from influences, it also acts as an anticancer and strengthens the immune system.
L'high digestibility and digestive properties of Litchi they are linked to the dietary fibers it contains, capable of stimulating the production of gastric juices, then there is potassium which contributes to the prevention of hypertension. Polyphenols and proanthocyanidins contained in this fruit, combined with vitamin C, they have an antitumor power.
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