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Mackay monster lychees ap-peel to festive fruit lovers

The giant lychees Brian Camilleri will sell from next week can grow up to four times the size of regular ones.
The giant lychees Brian Camilleri will sell from next week can grow up to four times the size of regular ones. Tony Martin

FOR Brian Camilleri, the best way to eat lychees is "like lollies" - and the veteran fruiterer is excited that a new monster variety will hit his fruit market shelves early next week.

"We get them from a friend of ours, Tibby Dixon, he's been growing lychees forever," Mr Camilleri said.

"He originally imported the variety from China, with these Erdon Lee lychees growing up to about 100 grams, and they're extremely popular."

 

Looking at them hanging off the tree, they look almost like a small custard apple - but Mr Camilleri offers assurances they taste just as sweet as a normal lychee.

"I eat them all the time and they're beautiful.

"People love 'em.

"You just eat them straight, just eat them like lollies," he said.

"We've been getting asked about them, they go off... last year was the first year they were available, and people responded well to them so we're stocking them again. We'll have a limited supply though; last year we sold about one or two tonnes."

Where you can buy them

  • Camilleri's Farm Market, Macs Truckstop, Balberra (south of Mackay)
  • Mackay Showground Markets on Saturday, December 16 (starts at 6.30am)
  • Sarina Markets at the Sarina Showgrounds on Sunday, December 17 (starts at 7.30am) 

 

Brian Camilleri with the giant lychees that can grow four times the size of regular ones.
Brian Camilleri with the giant lychees that can grow four times the size of regular ones. Tony Martin

Mr Camilleri said lychees were a popular fruit leading in to Christmas.

"All the lychees are popular - but because of the size they're certainly unique," he said.

Mr Dixon said the Erdon Lee lychees were the biggest that grew in the world, with a normal size lychee weighing about 25grams.

"I introduced these from China 17 years ago to our farm and we've been experimenting since," Mr Dixon said.

"Everybody thinks they're a wow factor because of their size. They're a great eating lychee, so next week they'll be on the market."

Of Australia's lychee production, 74 per cent are grown in Queensland, a recent Horticulture Innovation Australia report says.

The report also talks about the new Chinese variety, Erdon Lee, which "is showing promise".

"There is an equal balance of scepticism and optimism in the anecdotal evidence of growers about the unusually large fruit," the report says.

"Erdon Lee was privately introduced to Australia and it will take between five and eight years to determine if it can be developed commercially."

Topics:  camilleri christmas fruit erdon lee lychees giant lychees market tibby dixon


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