Lychee Sorbet with Mint


Bartenders all over the city have been loving the lychee, so why can’t I? Especially in the summer months, when cool, juicy and sweet flavors rule. And especially when Sugar High Friday, the dessert food-blogging event created by The Domestic Goddess, is calling this month’s challenge theme “Shades of White”, hosted by Seven Spoons. I’m not sure exactly what shade of white the lychee is. It begins much more white fresh than it looks canned, which is a slight shell-pink or peach hue.

But since fresh lychees don’t travel too easily, and they’re imported from China, they’re relatively expensive and a pain to have to purchase only in the summertime only in Chinatown. Canned lychees, on the other hand, are much more democratic. They can be found year-round, and I even grabbed a couple of cans of them at my local grocery in Brooklyn. This is probably the only kind bartenders use, too (I know this because I’ve recently been drinking far too many lychee martinis, and they’re always studded with a little canned lychee). So what happens, I thought, when you crush a can of lychees still in their syrup, to a watery sort of fruit puree, and throw it into the ice cream/sorbet/frozen yogurt churner? Sorbet. An exotic frozen treat of the most democratic order.

Certainly, the mint is not necessary to the sorbet, but I thought the combination gave it a nice fresh contrast — without damaging the oh-so-chaste and pure whiteness of the dessert too much. I’m excited to see what other white desserts are rounded up this Friday at Seven Spoons, and am hoping that mine is among the fairest of them all.


Lychee Sorbet with Mint
(makes about 1 quart of sorbet)

2 16-oz cans of lychees in syrup — one with the syrup and one drained
4-5 fresh mint leaves
Juice of half a lemon

In a food processor or blender, blend lychees with the syrup from just one can, mint, and lemon juice to a smooth consistency, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to an ice cream/sorbet maker and follow directions for making sorbet.

Cost Calculator

2 16-oz cans of lychees (at $1.99/each): $3.98
4-5 mint leaves (from my friend’s plant): $0.00 (I know, that’s not really fair… so let’s say): $0.25
1/2 lemon (at $0.33/each): $0.17

Total: $4.40 (note: had I puchased cans of lychees in Chinatown, it probably would cost half as much)

Health Calculator

Six brownie points: Lychees are fruits, not nuts, and as such they’re a good source of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Even packed in syrup, they’re relatively low in calories, though the syrup had enough sugar for me to omit it completely for the sorbet recipe (sorbet usually calls for cupfuls of sugar along with fruit). Either way, with homemade sorbet rather than store-bought, you can be sure you’re at least eating cupfuls of sugar and not its evil twin, high fructose corn syrup.

14 Responses

  1. Chewy

    This sounds wonderful! I’m going to make it. How do you think fresh lychees would fair? How much sugar would I need? Could I use raw sugar?

  2. cathy

    I think it would probably taste even better! Might be a good idea to just add more sugar to your mixture as you blend it to your taste (fresh fruits can differ so). Let me know how it turns out, maybe you can share your own recipe! Oh, and raw sugar sounds fine to me…

  3. Wendy

    Excellent recipe! I just made it with a dash of Lichido liquor, which made it a bit pink but added just a little zing of guava and really aromatic lychee and peach goodness. I think the mint and lemons make the perfect tart contrast to the sweetness, and I added a drop of lemon extract to provide that lemon peel scent. Heavenly. Thank you.

  4. Sue

    Wow – This looks amazing, am freezing the bowl part of my icecream maker as soon as I stop typing. I have been thinking of trying to make something similar with cherimoya, as they have such a creamy texture – have you ever done anything with them? I love lychee anything for some reason, but I agree with the abve post about needing something tart. Cool idea altogether!

  5. Yvo

    Mmm, a couple months ago I bought lychee in cans and saved the juice… been wondering what I could do with it… ooh (for some reason marinating pork chops in it sounded good… making a glaze..) but anyway I can almost taste that slushy ice…. argh! You suck 🙂

    BTW, I’m not sure how much the canned lychees were (bought at HKS in Elmhurst) but I feel like it would be the same price… I feel like I’ve paid $2 for a can of lychees at an Asian market before, but years ago, maybe they’re cheaper now?

    PS Have you ever been to the place in the tunnel in Chinatown- the tunnel that runs from Bowery through to Elizabeth St.? It’s called Coluck (the restaurant in the tunnel) or that’s what it was called when I was in HS, erm, like 10 years ago, and they sell ice drinks. I couldn’t place what I liked about them from other places until I realized … they use a slurpee like machine stocked with a white/clear mixture, I think it’s just slushed ice with a simple syrup (maybe the syrup from the cans of lychee- but then they use this for everything, not just lychee ice) mixed in, and if you order longan or a lychee ice, they plop some longans or lychees on the bottom of a plastic cup, then turn the machine on and put some of that slush mixture on top? Then you take a spoon and a straw and slurp it up… or you can order a mixed fruit one, they put fruit cocktail in it and squirt red syrup on top… I always liked this place better than the other places for “red bean ice” drinks… I can’t quite picture how other places do those though now… it’s been too long. Sorry but yeah, that place used to be like $1.50 for an ice drink… no idea about now- god your post brought back some good memories!!! Thanks!

  6. Erak

    Great improvisation. I once wanted to make an acai sorbet, but acai rots so fast, you can’t get it fresh in the states. Instead, I made a blueberry dark chocolate chip sorbet and it emulated the flavor perfectly.

  7. tara

    The mint sounds a perfect flavour to offset the lychees. Thank you so much for this clean and refreshing contribution to this month’s SHF!

  8. alex

    I once made lychee froyo in much the same way – a tub of thick unsweetened yogurt combined with canned lychees in a blender… I didn’t add any mint, but I am a lychee/rambutan/longan fiend so I was perfectly happy

  9. BlogDog

    I made this sorbet (using Trader Joe’s canned lychees) and would suggest a couple of things: add 1/2 cup of sugar and some alcohol (I used triple sec – 1/2 cup) to help the texture.
    I suppose just using creme de menthe instead of the mint leaves could kill two birds with one stone. But that’s a bit of a guess.

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  11. Jubilee

    Was skimming through your blog when I came across this recipe. Was wondering if I could do the same but with can peaches? Whatcha think?

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    Lychee Sorbet with Mint » Not Eating Out in New York

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