Lychees are delicious tropical fruits that only have a fairly short season. Therefore, when they come into season and are plentiful in stores, it’s tempting to buy them in larger quantities. However, fresh lychees will only keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, so how do you store them for longer?
It’s actually possible to freeze lychees, and we’ll explain how. It’s also possible to dry your lychees outside, and these will store well in an airtight container in the pantry. Lastly, you can dehydrate your lychees in pieces in a food dehydrator and store them in the pantry for up to one year.
1. Store Lychees In The Refrigerator
As lychees are fully ripe when you buy them, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep quite well for up to 1 week.
It’s best to put your lychees in a plastic bag or an open container before placing them in the fridge. Don’t be tempted to put the lychees in an airtight container because this will trap moisture and make them go moldy fairly quickly.
To keep your lychees nice and fresh and stop them from going brown, you should mist them with water on a daily basis to keep them moist. Make sure that you don’t soak the lychees but just give them a nice light spritz.
If the crisper drawer in your fridge has humidity control, you should set the humidity level to between 90 and 98 percent.
2. Store Your Lychees In The Freezer
It is possible to freeze lychees while they’re still in their shells, so there’s no need to peel them before freezing. However, you can peel them if you wish.
Here’s how to freeze unpeeled lychees:
- Place the lychees in a single layer onto a baking sheet that has a rim. This will stop them from rolling off.
- Put the tray with the lychees into the freezer for around 2 hours. This method allows the fruit to freeze individually so that they don’t all stick together into a frozen clump.
- Once the lychees are frozen, take them out of the freezer and place them into a ziplock bag. Seal the bag after expelling as much air as possible.
- Label the bag with the date and put it into the freezer.
Frozen lychees can be kept in the freezer for up to one year. When you want to enjoy some fresh lychees, take a few out of the bag and put them into a bowl in the refrigerator to let them thaw out.
Once they’re thawed, you can peel and enjoy them just like fresh ones. If the skins of the lychees have turned brown, don’t be too concerned because this is a normal part of the freezing process.
3. Dry Whole Lychees Outside
It is possible to dry your lychees outside without having to peel them first or having to remove the flesh from the seeds. Here’s how to do this:
- Blanch your lychees in boiling water for around 5 minutes. This helps to preserve their color and flavor.
- Put the lychees into a colander to drain off all the water.
- Place a wire rack onto a large baking tray.
- Place the lychees onto the rack in a single layer. Make sure that you space the fruits apart for good airflow. You want around half an inch (1.3 cm) between each fruit. This will help them to dry better. The wire rack also allows some air flow beneath the fruit.
- Place a piece of cheesecloth or muslin over the fruit. This will protect them from insects and other pests. Because the cheesecloth is quite thin, it will not impede airflow around the fruit.
- Find a shaded spot outside to position your tray. The outdoor temperature should be at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). Plus, the humidity should be below 60 percent. Keep your lychees in the shade for 2 days, and don’t expose them to direct sunlight, as this will make them turn bitter.
- Bring the tray inside overnight and also if it starts to rain. You want to keep your lychees as dry as possible during the entire process.
- After the second day in the shade, you can now place your tray of lychees in the sun. You want to select a spot that receives at least 8 hours of sun daily. Continue to bring the tray in overnight and take it out again in the morning. The entire drying process should take around 2 weeks.
- The lychees will be completely dry when they have a leathery texture.
Once the fruits are completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container in your pantry for up to 1 year. If you prefer your lychees cold, you could also store them in the fridge for the same length of time.
It’s also possible to freeze-dried lychees, and these should store well for up to 18 months.
4. Dehydrate Your Lychees Using A Food Dehydrator
A quicker way to dry your lychees is to use a food dehydrator. However, for this method, you’re going to have to peel the lychees and remove the stone. Here’s what to do:
- Once you’ve peeled and removed the stones from the lychees, cut them into ½ inch pieces. Try to make the pieces as even as possible, as this will help with the drying process.
- Place the lychee pieces onto the trays from the dehydrator. You might want to line the trays with parchment paper to make the dried fruits easier to remove.
- Make sure the fruits are in a single layer and that there’s a little space between each piece.
- Set the temperature of the dehydrator to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) and the timer to around 24 hours.
- Once the dehydrator has finished its cycle, check the fruit to see if it’s completely dry. If it’s not completely dry, let the dehydrator run for another hour or so and check the fruit again.
- When the lychees are completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container or a ziplock bag in the pantry for up to one year.