Durian (Durio zibethinus L./Murr)

The Durian Fruit
Durian is the name of the tree and the fruit. Durian is an expensive and exotic fruit from Asia and is referred to as “The king of all fruits”. The name is derived from the Malay word “duri” meaning thorn - due to its thick, tough and thorny husk. The durian fruit is either loved by durian aficionados with an almost cult like fervor or hated by those repelled by it’s smell. The rich, buttery smooth and luscious flesh of the durian fruit is delicious and is comparable to no other fruit. However, the disagreeable odor of the durian fruit gave birth to this often repeated phrase: “durian is a fruit that smells like hell but taste like heaven”. While almost everyone who has tasted the durian fruit agrees the taste is heavenly, no two ever describes the taste the same.

Durian belongs to the Bombacaceae family and is native of south and east Asia and is grown in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, southern Philippines and other Asian countries. It is believed to have originated in Borneo and Sumatra. The durian tree grows up to 50 meters high with oblong evergreen leaves 10 to 20 centimeters long and bears fruits after 4 to 5 years. The durian tree can live for centuries if not damaged by lightning, disease, soil erosion or other factors.

The fruit can grow from 20 to 40 centimeters (average size is comparable to a soccer ball) and weigh from 1 to 8 kilograms upon maturity which takes about 3 months after pollination of the flowers. There are hundreds of known cultivars of the durian but the Durio zibethinus is the specie most widely cultivated and sold commercially. The fruit bearing season of durian is from May to October.

Harvesting & Eating the Durian Fruit
The most common way to harvest the fruit is to wait until the fruit falls from the tree and waiting 2 to 4 days to fully ripen before eating. This is when the fruit is most tasteful and pungent. The durian fruit looses its eating quality in 5 or more days. An exception is in southern Thailand where many harvest the fruits before falling off the tree. Durian fruit harvested this way results in firmer flesh texture and milder flavor and odor.

When choosing a good quality durian fruit, look for big, fresh and solid stem. And when the fruit is shaken, there is a sound of seeds moving inside the fruit indicating ripeness.

Products Made from Durian
Aside from being eaten fresh, the durian fruit is made into durian flavored candies, cakes, biscuits, shakes, ice cream and (believe it or not) durian flavored condoms - due to it’s reputation as an aphrodisiac.

Durian Medicinal & Health Benefits
In folk medicine, the juice of the durian leaves is applied to the head on patients with fever. Boiling the leaves and roots in water (decoction) is also taken to lower the fever.

Eating durian is good for the heath. It is a good source of energy (high calorie), carbohydrates, dietary fiber and protein. The durian fruit has no cholesterol.

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