Durian – who doesn’t know this fruit? This is “the king of fruit”! But to some people, it’s simply “the smelliest fruit in the world”. Durian is commonly available in Southeast Asian countries. In the previous article, we have introduced durian as a seasonal, exotic Thai fruit. Now we will go deeper into Thai durian, including durian tree, the fruit, species as well as how durian can be processed into snacks and incorporated into desserts.
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Durian trees tend to grow big. Depending on the species and environment, the tree may be as short as 10m or as tall as 50m. It does take time to grow durian trees. The earliest harvest would be at around 4-5 years – however the durian tree lifespan is very long as durian trees tend to last 10+ years. We have also seen news of durian tree lifespan of 100 years or longer.
The Durian tree will bear fruit every year, however as a seasonal fruit, the tree will only bear fruit once or at most twice a year. It could take up to 3-4 months between the tree bearing flower and fruits being ready to harvest, but one tree usually bears many fruits per harvest season.
Durian fruit and the Thai durian species
Durian fruit is characterized by its green spiky shell. The fruit itself is quite large and typically weighs anywhere between 1 to 3 kg depending on the species. The edible part of durian fruit is yellow in colour, it has a deep sweet creamy taste with a hint of bitterness when not fully ripe. The fruit has a strong smell, some would describe it as fragrant while others would describe it as stinky!
While the smell of durian is concentrated around its yellow produce, you can smell fully ripe durian even before you peel its green spiky shell.
There are many species of Thai durian, however the 2 most famous species are:
- Monthong durian: Monthong means “golden pillow” in Thai. Monthong durian is known to be largest among Thai durian species so they are suited for people who love sweet, meaty durian
- Gaan Yao durian: Gaan Yao means “long stem” in Thai – and this perfectly describes the Gaan Yao durians as they tend to be smaller in size but attached to the tree by long stems. While Gaan Yao durian is smaller and less meaty – the fruits are richer in taste and are more fragrant
You can read more about Thai durian at Michelin guide.
How to enjoy Thai durian
Unlike other tropical Thai fruits like mangosteen or rambutan, durian has hard, thick skin. Hence, the best way to enjoy fresh durian is to purchase peeled durian, commonly found in packages at fruit stalls or supermarkets. However, if you have purchased a whole durian, you will need to peel the green spiky shell out first (hard glove and knife are recommended here) – from there you will find durian produce hidden in many “packets” within the shell. We have put together some photos of this process after purchasing a whole durian just last week. As you enjoy the durian fruit, the last thing to keep in mind is that durian has seeds within them so be mindful as you bite through those yellow meat (the seed is really bitter)!
Durian snacks and desserts
Our top picks include:
- Thai durian chips: fried sliced durian into chips! On the surface they look like a more yellow version of potato chips but the Thai durian chips are sweet and slightly salty! Turning fresh durian into chips will let you keep durian for a longer period, and at the same time, reduce the smell as well
- Durian sticky rice: while durian sticky rice is not as common and as famous as mango sticky rice, this dessert is delicious! Durian sticky rice is made up of sticky rice, a lot of coconut milk and ripe durian
- Thai durian ice cream: this is one of the more modern and highly commercialized product in Thailand during durian season. It basically is ice-cream with rich durian flavor, and sometimes texture
You can now order durian chips online from Thailand Post Mart and have them delivered directly to your home!
Step-by-step guide by pictures on how to make durian sticky rice.
Durian: it's a love OR hate relationship
You either love or hate durian, we have yet to find someone who falls in the middle or is neutral. While the fruit shape and appearance may look intimidating, durian is naturally sweet and “fragrant” (haters will disagree and say it’s “smelly”).
The one that we talked a lot about in this post is Thai durian. Apart from Thai durian, there are other famous variants like Mao Shan Wang durian (usually coming from Malaysia). The taste and texture of the flesh might be different from the Thai durians.
Have you ever tried Thai durian before? (and they are not to be confused with jackfruits!) If not, we strongly suggest you at least give it a try when you are next in Thailand. And if you’ve tried it before, how do you like the durian?
Visit our other blog posts for more info on Thailand: