The longan (literally ‘dragon eye’) is a close relative of the lychee, and is one of the most well known and well used of the medicinal fruits in Chinese Medicine. It’s forte is in treating Blood Deficiency, especially in the realm of calming the spirit.
The longan fruits strengthen both the digestive system and also the Heart. As the Heart is the abode of the Spirit in Chinese medicine, this means that the longan is especially indicated for Blood deficiency symptoms involving the mind or emotions – it is one of the favoured medicinal foods for insomnia, poor memory, stress, and palpitations – especially if there are other signs of Blood deficiency (dry skin, floaters in the vision, feeling dizzy when standing)
The Longan fruit is available fresh or tinned in syrup in Chinese supermarkets, or occasionally in the tropical fruit sections of large Western supermarkets. It is also often available dried, in which case it should be a very dark brown / black colour. Avoid dried fruits that are light in colour as they have probably been sulphured to keep them that way.
I really enjoy the taste of Longan and also turn to them at times when I need to unwind, or am missing my sleep.
Having found some fresh ones recently, the next goal is to try and get some of the pips to grow!
Here’s an idea for keeping you going through the cold of winter: Porridge with a difference!
I love porridge and generally prefer it with some sweetening. As an alternative to melting brown sugar on the top, I’ve started cooking it with a handful of raisins and some Longans. If you give it a reasonable time (say at least 8-10 mins in a pan, or in the microwave on the lowest setting) the fruit swells up and releases its natural sugars.
The other important ingredient is a little spice. If you have some Cinnamon stick, add a piece (say an inch, to taste) at the start. If you’ve only got ground cinnamon, add it near the end.
Each person’s tastes are slightly different, so feel free to treat these as a starting point and adjust as required! If you’re using a microwave and have sussed the settings needed so it doesn’t “boil over”, this is a nice thing to leave cooking whilst you do your morning Qijong, Yoga or T’ai Chi. You’ve then got a treat waiting for you at the end 🙂