Longans look like lychees but taste more like grapes. They have thin brown skin and their flesh is white or rosy, with a translucent sweet jelly encasing the seed. The flavor has been described as "a mix between a grape and sapote." Longan's common English name derives from the fact that it was first imported through the port of Da Nang (Vietnam) in the early 19th century. The Vietnamese name for the fruit is Tr sen, and longanisa (Philippine sausage) typically contains ground longan meat. Longans and rambutans are often confused by consumers because both fruits look similar and have sweet/tart flavors; however, rambutans are much larger.
Ripe longans will be firm, plump, and have a honey-like fragrance. If they are hard or wrinkled, the fruit is unripe. The fruit's shell (pericarp) should be shiny and crisp; if it is dull or has brown patches, the longans are past their prime.
Longan arils should not be too sweet but should be tart and full-bodied. The fruit is ripe when the kernel inside the shell is brown or yellowish in color. When black, they are too soft to be eaten fresh.
The longan is not related to the lychee, despite sharing part of its name; it is believed that Europeans confused these two fruits during their early history and that this is where the similarities stem from. Longans are grown in China, where it was first recorded, Japan, and Southeast Asia. They were introduced to Hawaii in the mid-19th century and to California in 1908.
Longans are usually eaten fresh, like a grape; they are very juicy and have a sweet flavor with slight tartness as well as floral notes. The jelly surrounding the seed has an extra sweet flavor and is often enjoyed as a delicacy of its own. In China, Timur is known as "Dragon's Eye" fruit, where the longan is sweet and moist with a thick layer of flesh surrounding the seed.
In Thailand it is known as "lamyai", meaning 'from Lop Buri'. It has been one of the main exports from Lop Buri Province since the 18th century, which are welcomed in many countries.
Modern Longan fruit production
Longan is a tropical fruit that is native to China. The name longan means “dragon eye” in Chinese, referring to the small black seeds that are visible in the center of the fruit. Longan fruits are oval-shaped and have a thin, brown skin. The flesh of the fruit is white and juicy, with a sweet taste.
Longan fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and iron. They also contain antioxidants and polyphenols, which have been linked to health benefits such as reducing inflammation and protecting against chronic diseases.
The production of longan fruit has increased rapidly in recent years, due to the growing demand from both domestic and international markets. In 2016, the global production of longan fruit was estimated to be 1.3 million tons. The majority of longan fruits are produced in China, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.
China is the leading producer of longan fruit in the world, accounting for approximately 60% of global production. Longan fruits are an important export crop for China, with the majority of exports going to Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
Thailand is the second-largest producer of longan fruit in the world, accounting for approximately 20% of global production. The majority of Thai longan exports are destined for markets in Europe and North America.
Vietnam is the third-largest producer of longan fruit in the world, accounting for approximately 10% of global production. The majority of Vietnamese longan exports are destined for markets in China and Thailand.
India is the fourth-largest producer of longan fruit in the world, accounting for approximately 5% of global production. The majority of Indian longan exports are destined for markets in the Middle East and Africa.
The global demand for longan fruit is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, driven by the growing popularity of healthy snacks and the increasing preference for fresh fruits over processed foods.
Longan fruits are commonly used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. They can be eaten fresh, canned, dried, or used as an ingredient in juices, jams, and desserts. Longan fruits are also a popular ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.
Global longan production
In 2015, longan production reached 1.6 million metric tons (MT), with China accounting for over 80% of the total global output. Other top-producing countries include Thailand (200,000 MT), Vietnam (170,000 MT), India (140,000 MT) and Laos (130,000 MT).
Longans are grown in tropical and sub-tropical climates. The trees require high temperatures and ample rainfall or irrigation for optimum growth. Longans can be grown on a variety of soils, but well-drained loamy soils are ideal.
The longan tree is an evergreen with a spreading canopy that can reach up to 20 meters in diameter. The tree produces small, white flowers that yield round fruits with thin, brownish-yellow skin. The flesh of the fruit is translucent and sweet, with a large, black seed in the center.
Longans are typically harvested by hand when they reach maturity. The fruits are then sorted and graded according to size and quality before being packed and shipped to market.
The longan is a popular fruit in Asia and is increasingly being exported to other parts of the world. It is often used in desserts or as decoration due to its attractive appearance. The fruit can be eaten fresh, canned, or dried. It is also used to make juices, wines, and flavored syrups.
The global longan market is expected to continue growing in the coming years as demand for fruit increases. The Asia-Pacific region is projected to be the major driver of growth, followed by North America and Europe.