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"smells like hell taste's like heaven" and healthy!

Southeast Asian cultivators and connoisseurs will swear that the durian is a fruit without compare. Durian is called King of Fruits inSoutheast Asian countries where it is widely abundant.

People who have just seen and smell it are immediately turned off by its strong, pungent odor, while for the brave, who manage to taste the fruit itself, the offensiveness of the smell quickly wanes. Some people describe the odor of durian as strong and pervasive that the best hotels refuse to allow their guests to bring durians into their room. But the proof is in the eating, and most people who have tasted it become lifelong addicts.

Durians are not plucked but allowed to fall, which is when they are best for eating. In rural areas, villagers clear the ground beneath the durian tree. They build grass huts nearby at harvest time and camp there for 6 or 8 weeks in order to be ready to collect each fruit as soon as it falls. Caution is necessary when approaching a durian tree during the ripening season, for the falling fruits can cause serious injury. Durians are highly perishable. They are fully ripe 2 to 4 days after falling and lose eating quality in 5 or 6 days.

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust and has been described variously as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine and gym socks. The odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

The durian, native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years. The 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace famously described its flesh as "a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds". The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked.

There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. There are hundreds of durian cultivars; many consumers express preferences for specific cultivars, which fetch higher prices in the market.

Only slowly, durians are catching on in other parts of the world. They aren't grown yet commercially on other continents, though the climate would be ideal in the Northern parts of South America, as well as sub-Saharan Africa. (I have been informed by a reader that there are a few durian trees on Zanzibar.)

Durians are catching on in other parts of the world primarily because Thailand now produces, on a large scale, exportable durian fruit of the Mon Thong variety. Mon Thong is the only durian variety that is suitable to be shipped (usually by plane) to far-away destinations because Mon Thong durian can be harvested weeks before they have fully ripened, can be stored for weeks, and have no tendency to rot prematurely.

Classical durian varieties as they are common in Indonesia (mainly Sumatra and Borneo) have to ripen on the tree and are harvested only once they have fallen off on their own. They are then best eaten within some 6 hours, or, at least, within a day. They will lose flavor and texture beginning on the second day after having fallen off the tree.

Thai agriculturists have also succeeded in minimizing the typical offensive durian smell. On Thai durian plantations, transplantation surgery on this cash crop is a common occurrence. By transplanting branches of grown trees onto newly growing trees of less than 70 cm in height, they keep the trees of their plantations low… a precondition for making the harvesting of unripe fruit an easy task. Naturally growing durian trees can reach an impressive height of up to 30 meters.

As a result of the efforts of Thai agriculturists, durian fruit now is exported to North America, with Western Canada a major destination (as Western Canada, particularly Vancouver, has a substantial population of Asian, especially Southern Chinese, origin).

Commercial Mon Thong durians are the most digestion-friendly sub-species. By this, I don't mean that in general, durians would be hard to digest. No stomach cramps and no excessive winds as with cabbage, and no discharge pain as with chilies. But with non-Mon Thong durians, there will be burping, and burps do smell like the durian fruit... socially not acceptable even in counties where durians are grown. Mon Thong is clearly the mildest kind of durian fruit. (But even in Thailand, durians are usually banned in offices and hospitals.)

However, Mon Thong durians are like Del Monte bananas. They are a neat agricultural product: they look good (no wrinkles, no age spots) on supermarket shelves, they stay young and can be stored with ease for quite some time, produce little odor, are of predictable, standardized quality. But they no longer have quite the original taste. OK, I don't mind what they do with bananas. But for the durian, it's a loss.

Durians are like grapes and wine, or like cheese. They are a food for gourmets, for connoisseurs. For genuine durian lovers, differentiating tastes in accordance to variety and region can be a true science.

durianClassic durians, as they are found on Sumatra and Borneo, come in as wide a variety and shades of taste as does wine, or cheese. Though there isn't a durian culture yet as there is a wine culture, there would be a good foundation for it. It's probably only a matter of Southeast Asia becoming sufficiently developed in economic terms to support food culture on a Western level. 

Gourmet durian culture will have to be centered on Sumatra and Borneo, just as wine and cheese culture is centered on France.

When the meat is not wrinkled upon opening of the fruit, the taste will be less creamy, and rather fruity.

You are less likely to find bitter-sweet durians with yellow meat, but occasionally you will come across that combination, too.

Yellow-meat durians are usually just sweet, not bitter-sweet. They also are less likely to have a nutty flavor.

"Durian", by the way, is an Indonesian word. "Duri" translates as thorn, and "durian" means thorny. Therefore durian, by name, is the thorny fruit. Which indeed, it is. You can kill a person by throwing a durian at his head. It's just like a ball of spikes. (There is another Southeast Asian fruit, known by an Indonesian name: Rambutan, the "hair fruit", "rambut" being the Indonesian word for "hair".)

Indonesia has the best climate for durians (highly tropical), and in the chief Indonesian durian-growing area of North Sumatra, durians are available year round. Incidentally, during the Thai durian season of mid-April to mid-June, there is the least output on North Sumatra, and prices rise to threefold their peak season's level.

Health Benefits of Durian

Durian fruit contains a high amount of sugar, vitamin C, potassium, and the serotonergic amino acid tryptophan, and is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is recommended as a good source of raw fats by several raw food advocates, while others classify it as a high-glycemic or high-fat food, recommending to minimise its consumption. The rich estrogens of the durian may increase fertility.

In Malaysia, a decoction of the leaves and roots used to be prescribed as an antipyretic. The leaf juice is applied on the head of a fever patient. The most complete description of the medicinal use of the durian as remedies for fevers is a Malay prescription, collected by Burkill and Haniff in 1930. It instructs the reader to boil the roots of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis with the roots of Durio zibethinus, Nephelium longan, Nephelium mutabile and Artocarpus integrifolia, and drink the decoction or use it as a poultice.

In the 1920s, Durian Fruit Products, Inc., of New York City launched a product called "Dur-India" as a health food supplement, selling at US$9 for a dozen bottles, each containing 63 tablets. The tablets allegedly contained durian and a species of the genus Allium from India and vitamin E. The company promoted the supplement saying that it provides "more concentrated healthful energy in food form than any other product the world affords".

- Durian is extremely nutritious because it is rich in vitamin B, C and E and with high iron content. Eating durian is alleged to restore the health of ailing humans and animals.
- A preparation from its roots and leaves is prescribed by traditional doctors for fevers and jaundice.
- Decoctions of the leaves and fruits are applied to swellings and skin diseases.
- Durian fruit helps lower cholesterol.
- Durian is a strong blood cleanser.
- The ash of the burned rind is taken after childbirth.
- Durian contains high levels of the amino acid tryptophan, known to alleviate anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and create feelings of happiness, by raising levels of serotonin in the brain
- Durian contains high level of soft protein which makes it a good muscle builder.
- Durian has a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac.
- Durian is recommended as a good source of raw fats.

Nutritive Value per 100 g

Vitamin A: 20-30 I.U.
Ascorbic Acid: 23.9-25.0 mg
Vitamin E: "high"
Calcium: 7.6-9.0 mg
Phosphorus: 37.8-44.0 mg
Potassium: 436 mg
Thiamine: 0.24-0.352 mg
Riboflavin: 0.20 mg
Niacin0.6: 83-0.70 mg
Iron: 0.73-1.0 mg
Sugars(approx.) 12.0 g
Protein: 2.5-2.8 g
Fat: 5.33g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Total Carbohydrates: 30.4-34.1 g
Calories: 144

Customs and beliefs

durian_treeSoutheast Asian folk beliefs, as well as traditional Chinese medicine, consider the durian fruit to have warming properties liable to cause excessive sweating. The traditional method to counteract this is to pour water into the empty shell of the fruit after the pulp has been consumed and drink it. An alternative method is to eat the durian in accompaniment with mangosteen, which is considered to have cooling properties. Pregnant women or people with high blood pressure are traditionally advised not to consume durian.

Another common local belief is that the durian is harmful when eaten with coffee or alcoholic beverages. The latter belief can be traced back at least to the 18th century when Rumphius stated that one should not drink alcohol after eating durians as it will cause indigestion and bad breath. In 1929, J. D. Gimlette wrote in his Malay Poisons and Charm Cures that the durian fruit must not be eaten with brandy. In 1981, J. R. Croft wrote in his Bombacaceae: In Handbooks of the Flora of Papua New Guinea that "a feeling of morbidity" often follows the consumption of alcohol too soon after eating durian. Several medical investigations on the validity of this belief have been conducted with varying conclusions, though a study by the University of Tsukuba finds the fruit's high sulphur content caused the body to inhibit the activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase, causing a 70% reduction of the ability to clear toxins from the body.

The Javanese believe durian to have aphrodisiac qualities, and impose a set of rules on what may or may not be consumed with it or shortly thereafter. A saying in Indonesian, durian jatuh sarung naik, meaning "the durians fall and the sarongs come up", refers to this belief. The warnings against the supposed lecherous quality of this fruit soon spread to the West—the Swedenborgian philosopher Herman Vetterling commented on so-called "erotic properties" of the durian in the early 20th century.

A durian falling on a person's head can cause serious injuries because it is heavy, armed with sharp thorns, and can fall from a significant height. Wearing a hardhat is recommended when collecting the fruit. Alfred Russel Wallace writes that death rarely ensues from it, because the copious effusion of blood prevents the inflammation which might otherwise take place. A common saying is that a durian has eyes and can see where it is falling because the fruit allegedly never falls during daylight hours when people may be hurt. A saying in Indonesian, ketibaan durian runtuh, which translates to "getting a fallen durian", means receiving an unexpected luck or fortune. Nevertheless, signs warning people not to linger under durian trees are found in Indonesia.

A naturally spineless variety of durian growing wild in Davao, Philippines, was discovered in the 1960s; fruits borne from these seeds also lacked spines. Since the bases of the scales develop into spines as the fruit matures, sometimes spineless durians are produced artificially by scraping scales off immature fruits.[

Durian dishes
In Malaysia, durian fruit is used to flavour candy, cakes, mousse, chips, ice cream and milkshakes. There's a dish, pulut durian, of glutinousdurian-insiderice steamed with coconut milk and served with ripe durian (I think this is also available in Thailand). Sugared and salted preserves are also created from durian.
Sambal Tempoyak is a dish from Sumatra composed of fermented durian, coconut milk and the ultra-spicy sambal sauce.
Sometimes the seeds are roasted, boiled or fried and have a consistency that's reminiscent of yams. In Java, seeds are thinly sliced and cooked with sugar to eat as candy.
In parts of Indonesia, the young leaves of durian are sometimes cooked as vegetables and the petals of durian flowers are also eaten.

In Thailand, blocks of durian paste are sold in the markets, though much of the paste is adulterated with pumpkin. Unripe durians may be cooked as a vegetable, except in the Philippines, where all uses are sweet rather than savoury. Malaysians make both sugared and salted preserves from durian. When durian is minced with salt, onions and vinegar, it is called boder. The durian seeds, which are the size of chestnuts, can be eaten whether they are boiled, roasted or fried in coconut oil, with a texture that is similar to taro or yam, but stickier. In Java, the seeds are sliced thin and cooked with sugar as a confection. Uncooked durian seeds are toxic due to cyclopropene fatty acids and should not be ingested. Young leaves and shoots of the durian are occasionally cooked as greens. Sometimes the ash of the burned rind is added to special cakes. The petals of durian flowers are eaten in the North Sumatra province of Indonesia, while in the Moluccas islands the husk of the durian fruit is used as fuel to smoke fish. The nectar and pollen of the durian flower that honeybees collect is an important honey source, but the characteristics of the honey are unknown.

Durian tourism
The Boa Sheng Durian Farm on the island of Penang in Malaysia offers a full tourist experience of the King of Fruit. The farm has different species of the fruit and you are shown around the farm and given a tasting. Apparently several of its fruit have won top prizes.

And, if you're in Singapore, you should stop by the Four Seasons Dessert Shop (in the China Square Food Centre), which is a durian smorgasboard. Everything is made from durian: from cakes to puddings to crepes.

Culinary Uses: Durian fruit is best eaten fresh but is can also be used for making durian cake, dessert and paste. Seeds are also edible, it can be eaten after boiling, roasting or frying. The unripe fruit is boiled whole and eaten as a vegetable.

Yield: Durians mature in 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 months from the time of fruit-set. Well-grown, high-yielding cultivars can bear 6,000 lbs of fruit per acre (6,720 kg/ha).

Note: Durian fruit is highly nutritious it is not advisable to eat this fruit in excess. Pregnant women or people with high blood pressure are traditionally advised not to consume durian. The seeds are believed to possess a toxic property that causes shortness of breath.


Disclaimer: This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regime, it is advisible to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.


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