The origin of the longan (also spelled lungan or longyan) is disputed. It may be native to the west of Burma or alongside the lychee in China. It is in these regions that it is planted on a large scale, although it has recently become an important commercial crop in Florida as well. Longan is a prolific bearer and thrives in monsoonal regions with pronounced rainy and dry seasons. Longan is by a wide margin Thailand's greatest fruit export, beating pineapple, durian, and pummelo in money value.
Longan are usually available for purchase in bundles, with the fruit still remaining on the stem, as plucking the fruit during harvest results in skin tears and fruit left on the stem also keeps better. Longan can be distinguished from the lycee by its smooth, beige-brown, leathery skin, while lycees tend to be slightly larger and reddish-brown in color, and have a bumpier skin. Longan are round or oval and slightly larger than the size of an olive.
Longan are usually eaten fresh, although it is also available canned, which makes a good dessert over ice. A protein-rich fruit, it is similar in taste to the lycee, a little sweeter but less juicy. Longan, however, may sometimes may have a musky flavor, which is an acquired taste. Longans and may be opened by tearing the skin at the stem end, squeezing the fruit at the lower end, and popping it into the mouth. Eat the clear to white-colored "meat" around the hard dark brown seed. (Don't eat the seed! Well, you can if you want to, but I don't think it will be very good).
Nonetheless the fruit is highly perishable unless fruit temperature is reduced immediately after harvest. They keep better under refrigeration, and when wrapped in plastic. They may also be frozen, but both texture and taste suffer with the length of storage, especially if the freezer temperature is minimal. After thawing, fruit may be used as if fresh.
and, of course, personal experience