Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan--Achievements-Innovative techniques

Innovative techniques

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Preservation of Natural Bright Red in Dried Lychee
In-shell dried lychees processed with conventional means (left) and new technology (right).
In-shell dried lychees processed with conventional means (left) and new technology (right).
The in-shell dried lychees retain the reddish rind color, taste and aroma of the fresh fruit, and have improved economic value.
The in-shell dried lychees retain the reddish rind color, taste and aroma of the fresh fruit, and have improved economic value.

    Lychee (or litchi) has a short harvesting period of 30-40 days. Also being highly perishable, fresh lychee fruit has a short shelf life, usually not more than three days without refrigeration. But during the peak harvesting period, the effects of supply exceeding demand occur. To counter these effects, a range of processed products is produced that includes: whole in-shell and peeled dried fruit, processed and canned fruit, purees, and drinks.

    Currently for the whole in-shell dried fruit, when they are dried with the conventional means the rind turns brown and brittle. This renders the in-shell dried lychee fruit not so appealing for consumers. To overcome this drawback, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute has recently developed an innovative in-shell drying technology that preserves the reddish rind color, taste and aroma of the fresh fruit of cultivar “Black Leaf”, a major lychee cultivar in Taiwan. The whole in-shell dried fruit produced with this new processing technology can be kept for six months under ambient temperature or one year under controlled storing conditions.

    This new technology increases the time margins of the window of marketing opportunities for the whole in-shell dried lychee fruit. And the technology is now in the process of technology transfer and licensing for commercial applications. A large-scale production of in-shell dried lychees by employing this technology in the future is expected to ease the glut and raise the prices of Taiwan fresh lychees during the peak season. Also it will add value to lychee, increase consumption volume in the domestic market, and create export potential of this delicious sub-tropical fruit.