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Lychees are a delicious tropical fruit that come into season during the summertime. When they are fresh, the pink-shelled fruits can be found in the produce aisle at most well-stocked grocery stores. During the off-season, canned versions can be found packed in syrup. Lychees have a delicate perfume-like flavor with notes of melon and flowers when they are fresh, but these subtle notes are almost always lost during the canning process, leaving an overly sweet syrup that tastes vaguely tropical, but contains none of the subtleties of the fresh lychee. What this all boils down to is that, though lychees are delicious, lychee-flavored things are often disappointing.
The solution is to make your own lychee syrup with fresh fruit and then use it to make drinks that have a true lychee flavor.
We started with a container of fresh lychees, then peeled and seeded the whole whole batch. We ate a few, but added the rest to a simple mixture of water and sugar. We brought the mixture to a boil, then simmered it to draw the flavor out of the fruit. A short time later, our syrup was well-infused and ready to use. The syrup captures the floral-melon flavor of the lychees, intensifying it with a honeyed sweetness. Perfect for flavoring cocktails or making your next batch of lemonade a little more exotic.
Homemade Lychee Syrup
1 1/4 cups peeled, seeded lychees (approx 8 oz whole fruit)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until fruit is tender. Remove from heat, then place a lid on the saucepan and let mixture stand for 10-15 minutes. Strain out out the pieces of fruit and transfer syrup to a resealable container.
Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Makes about 1 cup.