October 27, 2009

Lichi Fruits

lichi,  fruits and health, dailyfruits.blogspot.com
Lichi fruit is also spelled as Litchi, Lichee, Leechee, Lychee fruit. The lichi fruit is from the lichi tree that originates from China and is cultivated for its sweet fruits all over the world in warm climates. Lichi was imported to Hawaii in 1873, and Florida in 1883, and to California in 1897. Lichi fruit pericarp extract contains significant amounts of polyphenolic compounds and exhibits powerful antioxidative activity against fat oxidation in vitro. Lichi is a subtropical fruit that, once harvested, loses its red pericarp color because of browning reactions probably involving polyphenols.

Availability of Lichi Fruit

Lichi is available as the fruit in certain grocery stores, as lichi liquor, lichi juice and canned lichi. A lichi martini is popular in certain parts of the world.

Lichi Fruit and Lichi Nut

The lichi fruit often measures 3 to 4 cm long and about 3 cm in diameter. The outside of the lichi fruit is covered by a red, roughly-textured rind. I tis easily to peal the rind since it is not eaten. The inside of thy lichi fruit consists of a layer of sweet white flesh with a texture somewhat similar to that of a grape. The centre of the lichi fruit contains a single glossy brown nut-like seed, about 2 cm long and 1 cm in diameter. The lichi nut is not consumed since it is poisonous.

Lichi Fruit Research

Anticancer activity of lichi fruit pericarp extract against human breast cancer in vitro and in vivo.

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006 Mar 21; Division of Experimental Oncology, National Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, P.R. China.

The purpose of this study is to confirm the anticancer activity of lichi fruit pericarp extract on human breast cancer in vitro and in vivo, and to elucidate the mechanism of its activity. Human breast cancer cells were tested in vitro for cytotoxicity, colony formation inhibition, BrdU incorporation, and gene expression profiling after treatment with lichi fruit pericarp extract.

The findings in this study suggested that lichi fruit pericarp extract might have potential anticancer activity on both ER positive and negative breast cancers, which could be attributed, in part, to its DNA damage effect, proliferating inhibition and apoptosis induction of cancer cells through up-regulation and down-regulation of multiple genes involved in cell cycle regulation and cell proliferation, apoptosis, signal transduction and transcriptional regulation, motility and invasiveness of cancer cells.

Anaphylactic reaction to lichi fruit: evidence for sensitization to profilin.
Clin Exp Allergy. 1995 Oct;25(10):1018-23. Department of Dermatology University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.

Due to the increasing popularity of exotic fruits in the Western diet, allergologists are confronted with allergic reactions to substances in these plants. The present report describes an anaphylactic reaction after the consumption of lichi fruit (lichi sinensis). The atopic patient also suffers from rhinoconjunctivitis due to a sensitization against pollen of the Compositae family, as well as from dyspnoea after eating sunflower seeds. Our goals were to determine crossreactivity between antibodies against lichi fruit and other plants and to characterize the allergen. Specific IgE against lichi fruits were detected by an EAST assay.

The allergen was characterized by immunoblot, immunoblot inhibition and EAST inhibition assays. Broad crossreactivity between lichi fruit and other plants was found and profilin identified as the protein responsible for the patient's complex allergy syndrome.

CONCLUSION: lichi fruit contains a significant amount of profilin. Consumption of this exotic fruit can cause severe anaphylactic reactions in patients being sensitized against the plant pan-allergen profilin.(raysahelian.com)

October 21, 2009

Litchi

litchi, fruits and health, dailyfruits.blogspot.comAt first glance, the litchi is a fruit that looks like a strawberry with alligator skin, which is why some folks call them alligator strawberries in the South. The fruit is red like a strawberry, but the exterior is rough and tough. You must peel the litchi to get to the edible interior. Once peeled, the litchi looks like a peeled grape, and has a similar pearly grape-like texture. The tasty litchi flesh surrounds a large inedible seed. Its delicious sweet flavor is likened to a fusion of strawberries, watermelon, and grapes.

Litchis (also known as lychee and litchi nut) are native to Asia and have been a prized fruit in China for more than 2,000 years. They are grown in tropical climates, particularly Florida and Hawaii. Prime season for fresh litchis is June and July, but they are also available canned and dried. When dried, they are referred to as litchi nuts.

The litchi must be peeled to get to the edible flesh. The outer leathery skin also has a thin inner membrane that must be removed before eating, much like a pomegranate. As the ripened fruit ages, the skin and inner membrane lose water and become tougher, fusing together. If the skin comes off easily with the inner membrane, the storage time is greatly shortened.

Many folks simply use their fingernail to dig into the stem end and peeloff the skin from the lychee. If you're peeling a large quantity for a recipe, use a serrated knife to cut through the skin lengthwise all around the seed. If the litchi is very fresh, you'll need to gently peel away the skin and inner membrane much like peeling an orange. If the lychees have been stored for awhile, the skin and membrane will peel away easily, usually in whole halves after scoring around the seed.

If the lychees are very ripe, you can simply tear off one end of the skin, then pinch toward the opposite end to propel the fruit out of the skin and into your mouth or bowl.

Once the outer skin and inner membrane are removed, you'll find a fruit that looks much like a peeled green grape. The edible meat surrounds a large seed. Cut around the meat lengthwise to the seed, and pull the meat away from the pointed end of the seed. It should release from the seed fairly easily if the fruit is properly ripened.

Lychee / Litchi Selection and Storage

Select fruit with a bright coloring, light red to deep red, with no blemishes. The skin is naturally tough and leathery, but it should be pliable and not overly dull, dry or dark. If the fruit tastes bitter or sour, it is not ripe. Unfortunately, lychees cease ripening once picked. Avoid lychees that are cracked, leaking, or smell fermented.

Fresh litchis should be wrapped in a paper towel, placed in a perforated plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. They will begin to ferment as they age, so use them quickly.

Lychees may also be frozen. Simply place the fruit, skin on, in a zipper bag, suck out the air, and seal.

Canned litchis are also available. Litchi "nuts" are the dried form of the fruit which look and taste much like a raisin.

Lychee / Litchi Usage

Litchis are a natural addition to fruit salads and desserts. Add some to chicken salad or stir-fries for a sweet touch. They are also used in sweet-and-sour sauces as well as dessert sauces. (homecooking.about.com)

October 14, 2009

Lychee

Litchi chinensis Sonn.
Sapindaceae
Common Names: Lychee, Litchi, Leechee, Lichee, Lichi.

Distant Affinity: Akee (Blighia sapida), Longan (Dimocarpus longan), Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), Pulasan (N. mutabile), Fijian longan (Pometia pinnata).

Origin: The lychee is native to low elevations of the provinces of Kwangtung and Fukien in Southern China. Cultivation spread over the years through neighboring areas of southeastern Asia and offshore islands. It reached Hawaii in 1873, and Florida in 1883, and was conveyed from Florida to California in 1897.


Adaptation: Lychees require seasonal temperature variations for best flowering and fruiting, Warm, humid summers are best for flowering and fruit development, and a certain amount of winter chilling is necessary for flower bud development. Most varieties need between 100 and 200 hours of standard chilling (32° - 45° F). Cool winters with low rainfall are ideal for lychees. The trees become more hardy as they age. Mature trees have survived temperatures as low as 25° F when fully hardened off. Young trees may be killed by a light frost. Lychees can be successfully grown in frost-free coastal areas of California. There are trees in San Diego, California that are over 90 years old with no sign of decline in sight. It first fruited in Santa Barbara in 1914. They can be grown for a short period in a large container.

DESCRIPTION

Growth Habit: The lychee tree is handsome, dense, round-topped and slow-growing with smooth, gray, brittle trunk and limbs. Under ideal conditions they may reach 40 feet high, but they are usually much smaller The tree in full fruit is a stunning sight.

Foliage: The leathery, pinnate leaves are divided into four to eight leaflets. They are reddish when young, becoming shiny and bright green. Lychee trees have full foliage and branch to the ground.

Flowers: The tiny petalless, yellowish-green flowers are borne in in terminal clusters to 30 inches. Lychees are eye-catching in spring when the huge sprays of flowers adorn the tree. Flowering precedes fruit maturity by approximately 140 days.

Fruits: The fruit is covered by a leathery rind or pedicarp which is pink to strawberry-red in color and rough in texture. A greenish-yellow variety is not grown in California at present. Fruit shape is oval, heart-shaped or nearly round, 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length. The edible portion or aril is white, translucent, firm and juicy. The flavor is sweet, fragrant and delicious. Inside the aril is a seed that varies considerably in size. The most desirable varieties contain atrophied seeds which are called "chicken tongue". They are very small, up to 1/2 inch in length. Larger seeds vary between 1/2 to 1 inch in length and are plumper than the chicken tongues. There is also a distinction between the lychee that leaks juice when the skin is broken and the "dry and clean" varieties which are more desirable. In some areas lychees tend to be alternate bearers. Fruit splitting is usually caused by fluctuating soil moisture levels.

CULTURE

Location: Lychees need full sun, but young trees must be protected from heat, frost and high winds.

Soil: The tree needs a well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. A soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is acceptable, but plants grow much better in soils with a pH at the low end of this range. Apply a thick layer of organic mulch to the soil after planting.

Irrigation: The lychee will not tolerate standing water, but requires very moist soil, so water the tree regularly when it is growing actively. The trees are very sensitive to damage from salts in the soil or in water. Leach the soil regularly in the Southwest.

Fertilization: Young trees tend to grow slowly, and many gardeners tend to give them too much fertilizer in an attempt to push them along. Young trees should receive only light applications of a complete fertilizer. Mature trees are heavier feeders and should be fertilized regularly from spring to late summer. Use fertilizers formulated for acid-loving plants. Chelated iron and soil sulfur may be necessary in areas with alkaline soils.

Pruning: Prune young trees to establish a strong, permanent structure for easy harvest. After that, removing crossing or damaged branches is all this is necessary, although he trees can be pruned more heavily to control size. V-shaped crotches should be avoided because of the wood's brittle nature.

Frost Protection: Lychees need warmth and a frost-free environment, but can often withstand light freezes with some kind of overhead protection. When they are young, this can be provided by building a frame around the plants and covering it with bedding, plastic sheeting, etc. when frost threatens. Electric light bulbs can also be used for added warmth.

Propagation: Air-layering is the most common method of propagating lychees because grafting is difficult and seedlings are not reliable producers of quality fruit. To grow a plant from seed it is important to remember that seeds remain viable for no more than a day or two under dry conditions. Young seedlings grow vigorously until they reach 7 or 8 inches in height. They will stay at this height for up to two years without further noticeable growth. Wedge and bud grafts are possible, but seldom used.

When planting a Lychee, hole preparation is the same as for planting avocados. If planting marcots directly, most leaves should be removed. A round of hog wire covered with plastic gives excellent wind protection and also holds moisture in. In case of a freeze, one has only to throw a blanket over the top. The plastic should not touch the plant. This protection should be planned on and taken care of the day the plant goes into the ground.

Pests and Diseases: Mites, scale and aphids occasionally infest lychees. Birds are often attracted to lychees, eating both the immature and the ripe fruit. It may be necessary to cover the plants with a protective netting.

Harvest: The Fruit must be allowed to ripen fully on the tree. Overly mature fruit darken in color and lose their luster. The flavor lacks the richness associated with a certain amount of acidity. To harvest, snip off entire fruit clusters, keeping a short piece of the stem attached. Lychees can be stored for up five weeks in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen or dried. Lychees will begin to deteriorate within three days at room temperature. (crfg.org)

October 7, 2009

Lucuma Makes a Healthy Whole Fruit Sweetener

lucuma, fruits and health, dailyfruits.blogspot.comMany South American cultures enjoy traditional healthy foods and culinary treats. If you were to visit Peru, you may be surprised to find that lucuma flavored ice cream is more popular than vanilla or chocolate. Lucuma is a South American fruit that is gaining popularity as a healthy, whole fruit sweetener. It has a similar taste to a mango and has a beautiful golden yellow color. It adds a healthy sweetness to smoothies, raw chocolate and cakes.

The Incan Fruit

The lucuma tree was first seen and reported by Europeans in Ecuador in 1531. The lucuma tree is an evergreen that has been cultivated since ancient times and was once hailed the "Gold of the Incas." As a native fruit to Peru, Chile and Ecuador, it has been spiritually revered because of its taste and healing power. It has been found depicted on ceramics at burial sites of the indigenous people of Peru by archaeologists. Today it is still a prominent feature in celebrations and life.

Because the lucuma fruit is so precious to South American countries, it is actually not allowed to be exported as a whole fruit. Instead, the powder is being exported and used to create delicious recipes.

A Healthy Sweetener

Lucuma is an excellent source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals including plentiful concentrations of beta-carotene, which makes it a powerful immune system booster. It is rich in iron, B2 and B1. It`s also high in niacin, which makes it a cholesterol and triglyceride balancer.

The fruit has a slightly breast like appearance and has been associated with fertility and nourishment by the cultures who have enjoyed it. It is a great sweetener for women who are breastfeeding.

Naturally Sweet and Delicious

Lucuma has a uniquely sweet, fragrant and subtly maple-like taste that will bring your desserts to life without making your blood sugar levels skyrocket. This naturally occurring sweetener actually gives your body healing goodness, unlike many sweeteners which offer empty calories and nothing of any value. Its low sugar content makes it a healthy alternative to sugar for people who have diabetes and other illnesses, as well as those growing numbers of people who want to enjoy delicious delights while maintaining vibrant health.

Lucuma Ice Cream

As mentioned above, lucuma ice cream has been popular in South America for years. Now it is becoming increasingly popular among people who enjoy a raw food, sugar free diet. Here is a simple recipe for this healthy and delicious dessert.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups really raw cashews, soaked
1/2 cup coconut cream, coconut meat, or raw coconut butter
1/2 cup organic lucuma powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
1 whole vanilla bean
1 1/2 Tbs psyllium hulls
Approximately
1/2 cup best water available
1/4 cup maca powder
Celtic Sea salt to taste (or use any highly mineralized salt)

Directions

Put all the ingredients of 
lucuma ice cream in a blender or food processor and blend until it is a thick, creamy consistency. Put in a freeze proof container and freeze until it is ice cream. An ice cream maker is not required, but can be used. (naturalnews.com)

October 1, 2009

Loquat Fruit Facts

Eriobotrya japonica Lindl.
Rosaceae
Common Names: Loquat, Japanese medlar, Nispero.

Distant Affinity: Apples (Malus spp.), Medlar (Mispilus germanica), Stone Fruit (Prunus spp.), Pears (Pyrus spp.) and others.

Origin: The loquat is indigenous to southeastern China. It was introduced into Japan and became naturalized there in very early times. It has been cultivated in Japan for over 1,000 years. It has also become naturalized in India and many other areas. Chinese immigrants are presumed to have carried the loquat to Hawaii. It was common as a small-fruited ornamental in California in the 1870's, and the improved variety, Giant, was being sold there by 1887. Japan is the leading producer of loquats, followed by Israel and Brazil.

Adaption: The loquat is adapted to a subtropical to mild-temperature climate. Where the climate is too cool or excessively warm and moist, the tree is grown as an ornamental but will not bear fruit. Well established trees can tolerate a low temperature of 12° F. The killing temperature for the flower bud is about 19° F, and for the mature flower about 26° F. At 25° F the seed is killed, causing the fruit to fall. Extreme summer heat is also detrimental to the crop, and dry, hot winds cause leaf scorch. High heat and sunlight during the winter often results in sunburned fruit. The white-fleshed varieties are better adapted to cool coastal areas. In a large tub the loquat makes a good container specimen.

DESCRIPTION

Growth Habits: The loquat is a large evergreen shrub or small tree with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow 20 to 30 ft. high, but is usually much smaller than this--about 10 ft. Loquats are easy to grow and are often used as an ornamental. Their boldly textured foliage add a tropical look to the garden and contrast well with many other plants. Because of the shallow root system of the loquat, care should be taken in mechanical cultivation not to damage the roots.

Foliage: Loquat leaves are generally eliptical-lanceolate, 5 to 12 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. They are dark green and glossy on the upper surface, whitish or rusty-hairy beneath, thick and stiff, with conspicuous parallel, oblique veins. The new growth is sometimes tinged with red. The leaves are narrow in some cultivars and broad in others.

Flowers: Small, white, sweetly fragrant flowers are borne in fall or early winter in panicles at the ends of the branches. Before they open, the flower clusters have an unusual rusty-wooly texture.

Fruit: Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 1 to 2 inches long with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to subacid or acid, depending on the cultivar. Each fruit contains three to five large brown seeds. The loquat is normally pollinated by bees. Some cultivars are self-infertile and others are only partially self-fertile. Flowers of the early and late flushes tend to have abnormal stamens and very little viable pollen. Thinning of flowers and young fruits in the cluster, or clipping off all or part of flower and fruit clusters is sometimes done to enhance fruit size. Under most conditions the loquat tends to develop an alternate-bearing pattern, which can be modified somewhat by cluster thinning in heavy production years. For the highest quality fruit the clusters are sometimes bagged to protect from sunburn and eliminate bird damage.

CULTURE

Location: Loquats are wind tolerant and grow best in full sun, but also do well in partial shade. The round headed trees can be used to shade a patio. Loquats also make attractive espaliers.

Soil: Loquats grow well on a variety of soils of moderate fertility, from light sandy loam to heavy clay and even limestone soils, but need good drainage.

Irrigation: Loquat trees are drought tolerant, but they will produce higher quality fruit with regular, deep watering. The trees should be watered at the swelling of blossoms and 2 to 3 waterings should be given during harvest time. The trees will not tolerate standing water.

Fertilizing: Loquats benefit from regular, light applications of nitrogen fertilizers, but too much nitrogen will reduce flowering. A good formula for applications of chemical fertilizer is 1 lb. of 6-6-6 NPK three times a year during the period of active growth for each tree 8 to 10 feet in height. To control excessive growth, other authorities recommend fertilizing only once a year in midwinter.

Pruning: Judicious pruning should be done just after harvest, otherwise terminal shoots become too numerous and cause a decline in vigor. The objective of pruning is a low head to facilitate fruit thinning and harvest. Prune also to remove crossing branches and thin dense growth to let light into the center of the tree. Loquats respond well to more severe pruning.

Propagation: Generally seeds are used for propagation only when the tree is grown for ornamental purposes or for use as rootstock. For rootstock the seed are washed and planted in flats or pots soon after removal from the fruit and the seedlings are transplanted when 6 to 7 inches high. When the stem is 1/2 inch thick at the base, the seedlings are ready to be top-worked. Loquats can be propagated by various grafting methods, including shield-budding or side-veneer grafting and cleft-grafting. The use of loquat seedling rootstock usually results in a comparatively large tree with a high canopy. Cultivars grown on quince rootstock produce a dwarfed tree of early bearing character. The smaller tree has no effect on fruit size and gives adequate fruit production with the advantage of easier picking. Loquat cuttings are not easy to root. Grafted trees will begin to bear fruit in 2 to 3 years, compared to 8 to 10 years in seedling trees.

Pests and Diseases: In California there are few pests that bother loquats. Occasionally infestations of black scale may appear. Fruit flies are a serious pests in areas where they are problem. Birds will also peck at the ripe fruit and damage it, and deer will browse on the foliage.

Fire blight caused by Erwinia amylovora is a major enemy of the loquat in California, particularly in areas with late spring and summer rains or high humidity. The disease is spread by bees during flowering. Fire blight can be controlled somewhat by the use of preventive fungicides or bactericides and by removal of the the scorched-looking branches, cutting well into live wood. The prunings should be burned or or sealed in a plastic bag before disposal. Crown rot caused by Phytophthora and cankers caused by Pseudomonas Eriobotrya are also occasional problems.

Harvest: Loquat fruits should be allowed to ripen fully before harvesting. They reach maturity in about 90 days from full flower opening. When ripe the fruit develops a distinctive color, depending on the cultivar, and begins to soften. Unripe fruits do not ripen properly off the tree and are excessively acid. Harvest time in California is from March to June. The fruit is difficult to separate from the cluster stems without tearing and must be carefully clipped individually or the whole cluster removed and the fruit then snipped off. Ripe fruit may be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks.

The loquat is comparable to the apple in many aspects, with a high sugar, acid and pectin content. It is eaten as a fresh fruit and mixes well with other fruits in fresh fruit salads or fruit cups. Firm, slightly immature fruits are best for making pies or tarts. The fruits are also commonly used to make jam, jelly and chutney, and are delicious poached in light syrup. Loquats can also be used to make wine.

Commercial Potential: In California, only in the coastal areas from Santa Barbara to San Diego counties is the fruit produced regularly in quantity and of sufficiently good quality to make commercial production feasible. Harvesting is somewhat labor intensive and the difficulty of handling the fragile fruit in addition to the relatively short self life and storage ability, limit the loquat as a major commercial fruit. Even so, the availability of loquats when few or no other local fruits are in the market is a factor in their favor. The fruit is also popular in ethnic markets and is offered in limited amounts in specialty fruit stores and through Farmer's Markets in many communities.(crfg.org)