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The longan is a succulent fruit that is fragrant, extremely juicy, easy to eat, and consistently outranks other varieties in taste tests. The smooth thin leathery brown skin varies from light brown when most fresh, then begins to turn darker brown with age and/or environmental changes. Once the skin has been easily peeled off, the translucent grape-like fruit is exposed. Longans are mostly eaten fresh by themselves and in salads. Refrigerated longans taste very refreshing.
The longan tree (Euphoria longana, syn. Dimocarpus longan) is a member of the unusual and diverse Soapberry Family (Sapindaceae), which are species of evergreen tropical fruit trees that even includes the magnolia. This species was once placed in the genus Nephelium, along with its close cousins the litchi or lychee (N. litchi, syn. Litchi chinensis) and the rambutan (N. lappaceum).
Longan is called "mamoncillo chino" in Cuba , and has been referred to as the "little brother of the Lichi", it is closely allied to the glamorous fruit lichi. Botanically, though, longan is placed in a separate genus. Generally speaking, longan is less important than lichi to the Chinese as an edible fruit, but more widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, particularly its fruit pulp, or the aril.
Selection & Storage
Longans should be preferably selected while still brown in color. If possible, wrap the longans in paper towel or thin tissue paper before storing them in recommended humid environment at 34-40F, this will help prevent the longan skin from deteriorating and help maintain the light brown color longer as opposed to turning dark brown. Place in the crisper of the refrigerator; they may be frozen with its pericarp in a sealed container. Peeled and seeded, they can be canned or poached in syrup or simply dried
Display with other tropical fruits such as Starfruit, Mangos, Pummelo, Mangosteen, Cherimoyas, Baby Pineapples, Papaya, Rambutan, and Lychees.
Types of Longan
'Kohala' - Large size, sweet, good flavor, often has an abortive small
seed, most widely planted in California and Florida.
Some varieties originating in southeast Asia have not been as well documented and varietal names have sometimes been lost. Three such Thai varieties that are seteemed in their homeland are 'Baidum', 'Biew Kiew', and 'Chompoo'.
Longan thrives best on rich sandy loam or organic sand. They need adequate water, can stand flooding; but not prolonged drought. Longan trees need 20 ft to properly produce full growth in the dooryard; however containerized trees only need 5-6 ft. They are relatively free of pests and diseases but can show signs of mineral deficiency. Fertilization, including the addition of nitrogen and minor elements, should take place after fruit harvest and during blooming season.
Loon Ngan (Cantonese), Litchi ponceau: (French), Lengkleng: (Malaysia)
Nutritional and Health Facts
Longans are rich in glucose. sucrose, coarse fibers, VA, VBª1, VBª2, VC, niacin, tartaric acid, protein, fat and many kinds of minerals. Used to beautify the skin and eyes. In China, this fruit has been known to be eaten by beautiful women. Believed to be a great sex tonic for Women, especially when combined with other herbs such as Ginseng and Codonopsis. Medical uses of longan include stoma chic, insomnia, and as an antidote for poison. Dried leaves and flowers are sold in Chinese herb markets. The seeds, because of their saponin content, are used like soapberries (Sapindus saponaria L.) for shampooing the hair. The seeds and the rind are burned for fuel and are part of the payment of the Chinese women who attend to the drying operation.
Nutritional values per 100 g -
Calories: 38; Carbohydrates: 10 g; Fat: 0.0 g; Protein: 1 g; Rich in vitamin C
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference:
Longans are much eaten fresh, out-of-hand, but some have maintained that the fruit is improved by cooking. In China, the majority are canned in syrup or dried. The canned fruits were regularly shipped from Shanghai to the United States in the past. Today, they are exported from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Plain, peeled and seeded,
It is used often like the lychee and is excellent for flavouring fruit salad or a savoury salad.
enjoy them poached in syrup, with rose water (1 spoonful per 300 ml water).
for veal sweetbreads with longans and grapes - Reduce 125 ml maple syrup until lightly caramelized; add 1 tbsp. butter and a minced shallot; sauté the sweetbreads (previously blanched) until they begin to colour; deglaze the pan with rice vinegar; place the sweetbreads in the oven for 10 minutes; brown the peeled and seeded longans and grapes in the pan with the cooking liquid; strain and set aside; finish the sauce off with a reduction of veal stock
The flesh of the fruit is administered as a stoma chic, febrifuge and vermifuge, and is regarded as an antidote for poison. A decoction of the dried flesh is taken as a tonic and treatment for insomnia and neurasthenic neurosis. In both North and South Vietnam, the "eye" of the longan seed is pressed against a snakebite in the belief that it will absorb the venom. The dried flowers are often exported to Malaysia for medicinal purposes.
"Sweet in flavor, warm in nature," it is related to the heart and spleen channels and tonifies the heart and spleen, nourishes blood and calms the mind. Often indicated for insomnia and amnesia (forgetfulness) due to deficiency of the heart and spleen and insufficiency of qi and blood. It is used for deficiency of both the heart and spleen, insufficiency of both qi and blood, anorexia (loss of appetite), fatigue, loose stool, palpitation, insomnia and amnesia:
also indications for anemia (the blood is deficient in red blood cells),
for dizziness, general weakness, for infirmity and postpartum weakness.
The fluid of Arillus Longan (1:2) has a bacteriostastic action on microsporum audouini.
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