I waited with high expectation and great anticipation as the pallet of Israel Lychee (or Litchi) was pulled out of the cold truck, and lowered onto the ground. I can’t wait to lay my hands on the lychees, and to taste them.
In this market, we have only tried lychees from China, and Taiwan. Lychees from Israel? You mean Israel grows lychees? We didn’t even know about it then. Yes, Israel has been cultivating the Mauritius lychee variety since the 1930s. Most of the Israel Lychee crop comes from the seaside orchards near the Mediterranean coast and Sea of Galilee.
When the carton was opened, I caught sight of the rose Red Lychee appearing under the carton covers. It did not look familiar to me, and the size of the lychee was not something I have expected as in my mind, as I was only familiar with the Chinese varieties. My heart sank a little, and in my heart, I was hoping that at least the taste will be superior to the Chinese ones. I quickly grabbed one of the pink heart shaped fruit, peeled it, and put it into my mouth.
First reactions…. is this lychee? Somehow my palette sensors did not send lychee to my brain…. I had impressions of longan infused with rose syrup. I passed some of the lychees out to my agritech trainees who were with me. They too, eagerly peeled, and sunk their teeth into the Lychees.
I looked at the faces for their reaction…. The feedback on their faces was like a star that does not beam. Immediately, my heart sank as I had expected this star to shine brightly. I grabbed a few more to try, and they all taste the same ho-hum to me:
1. Fragrance and taste Rose syrup flavour
2. Flesh medium sweet and firm
3. Seed is not small
4. Skin is pink red
This is something out of my Lychee fruit vocabulary. The familiar China ones are sweet (sometimes sour!), soft flesh (sometimes a brownish layer between seed and fruit called the endocarp), brownish red skin (most likely due to the long period of time spent shipping to Singapore), and the right variety (eg Hak Ip) comes with smaller seeds.
Judging from all my Agritech trainees’ confused reactions, I sensed that this Israel Lychee is not something we Singaporeans are familiar with. This feeling I had with the Lychee is the exact replay of when we brought in Maya Mangoes from Israel three years ago. We were unsure how to define the taste as we are used to the Thai, and Australian Mango varieties.
So it took me some time to internalise, and appreciate the taste of fruits that are freshly harvested, and air-flown to Singapore. From tree to taste (in my mouth) is less than one week! We are used to eating fruits that has come to use which have been harvested at least one month before it even reaches our supermarket shelves.
As I slowly pick the Lychee to try 5 to 6 a day, every day, I began to appreciate the thinness of the fruit skin, the firmness of the flesh (imagine baby skin vs mature skin). The subtle sweetness began to grow on me. It is like a soft gentle bouquet that is not ‘in your face’ type of sweetness. As I slowly savour, I began to enjoy the subtle fragrance, and it is quite addictive as they Lychees are so fresh.
Hence my conclusion to fruits is, our brain and taste buds take time to add new varieties of fruits into our ‘taste vocabulary’. Each variety of fruit is different because of the different climates, soil conditions, harvesting times and techniques.
Slowly, the Lychees that were sitting in my fridge started to taste more like the Lychees I was used to. The sweetness became more pronounced, and the fruit was also juicier. I googled, and found that Lychees do not continue to ripe after harvest and why do they taste sweeter and juicier?
I pondered for a while, and then came to the ‘Ah Ha’ moment. It is due to the fact that water excretes from the flesh when the fruit is older. The fruit then loses its firmness and becomes softer. However, the fruit also then tastes sweeter due to water excretion.
I am glad that CrowdFarmX had decided to give them free to our community to taste together so that we all learn and have a chance to understand the real taste of freshest produce. At CrowdfarmX, we will continue to farm the best and bring in the best, using superior cold chain so that we can enjoy the freshest fruits and vegetables.
Let's explore together the freshest which Nature has given us.