One of the most controversial foods in the world is durian. Some people love this tropical fruit, while others hate it. You can eat it raw or cook it. Durian is mostly grown in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Still, the strange fruit has become popular all over Asia and can be found in Asian markets in the United States.
People have called it the “king of fruits” because it is big (about 1 foot long), heavy, and has a lot of flesh that can be eaten. Most people either love durian at the first taste or hate it right away. It has sweet, buttery fruit that doesn’t have much juice and might remind you of a Creamsicle. You can eat fresh durian or use it to make different kinds of desserts. The most strange thing about the durian is that it smells so bad that most public places in Southeast Asia, like hospitals and trains, don’t let you bring it in.
What is Durian?
Durian is a large, spikey, greenish-brown fruit popular in Southeast Asia’s home country. It is known as the “king of fruits.” When the fruit is ready, it has a strong smell that can differ for each type of durian. Many people don’t like the smell, and some public places and public transportation have even banned fresh fruit. When the durian is ready, it usually splits open, making it easy to get at the meat inside (while also distributing that famous aroma). You can also use a large knife or cleaver. The white, yellow, or red flesh can be eaten raw or cooked, and many people like it for its custard-like texture and unique taste. The short season and shelf life of durian and rising demand make the fruit expensive, especially when it has to be imported.
How to Cook with Durian?
Taste is the best way to tell if a durian is ready to eat and when to cook it. Some people like to eat durian that isn’t quite ripe yet before it has its strong smell and the flesh is still firm. Many people like to eat ripe durian when the smell is strong, but the fruit isn’t too ripe yet. Split durians that are ready to eat should be eaten immediately, or they will start to go bad. Sometimes, overripe fruit is cooked and added to savoury dishes like curries.
Cut the fruit, but the durian on a clean cutting board with the stem side down. Make a cut about 3 to 4 inches long through the thick skin on top of the durian with a large, sharp knife. Be careful when you touch the fruit because its skin is sharp and can hurt you. As you cut, use your other hand to pull the skin back. Pull the skin back with your hands. It should come off pretty easily.
Place the two halves on the cutting board and use a spoon or your hands to remove the large “pods” of fruit. Get a plate and put the fruit on it. Cut along the seam in the middle of the inside “shell” with your knife to find more pieces of fruit. You can use a spoon or your fingers to take out these pieces of fruit and put them on the plate. Remove the big, non-edible seeds before eating or serving.
Your hands can smell like durian all day when you work with durian. Run hot water through the durian skin to help get rid of the smell. This will make a very mild lye solution that helps eliminate the smell when mixed with soap. People often eat durian straight from the fruit, but it is also used to make candies, sauces, curries, baked goods, drinks, desserts, and more.
Durian Fruit Uses for Skin & Hair:
Boosts Collagen Synthesis
Regularly eating durian fruit is a great way to make your skin look better. Collagen is an essential amino acid that helps give skin tissues, bones, and joints their shape and structure. This is mostly because durian has antioxidants like vitamin C and compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, flavonoids, etc. These protect skin cells and tissues from the damage that free radicals cause when they react with oxygen. They also help the body make more collagen.
Treats Skin Pigmentation
Durian is great for bringing out the skin’s natural glow and helping to get rid of skin spots. The skin cells are cleaned up by antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids. Also, the durian fruit has a lot of minerals that work together to lighten dark spots and scars, even out skin tone, get rid of sun tans, and reduce signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines.
Promotes Hair Growth
The durian fruit is full of powerful antioxidants that improve blood flow on the scalp. Healthy blood flow ensures that hair follicles get the nutrients they need inside the body, which is good for the health of your scalp and helps new hair follicles grow. Other nutrients in the durian, like vitamin B complex, zinc, and iron, also help treat dandruff and split ends and make hair look silky and long.
What does Durian Taste Like?
Some journalists, travellers, and writers have used words that don’t seem to go together to describe durian. Many people in Southeast Asia live and eat this fruit a lot, but the smell alone has turned off many newcomers. People have said that the smell of durian is like that of dirty gym socks, a rotten egg, cut onions, manure, or roadkill.
Some say the flesh tastes the same, but people who like the fruit say it has almond notes and feels like custard. When it’s ready, the flesh is very soft and creamy. It is not too sour, too sweet, or too juicy. Depending on the type of durian, the smell, taste, and colour can differ.
- Laotian Sticky Rice with Durian
- Durian Ice Cream
How to Eat Durian Fruit?
Make a Cut in the Top of the Durian
To cut the fruit, put the stem end of the durian on a clean cutting board. Make a cut about 3 to 4 inches long through the thick skin on top of the durian with a large, sharp knife. As you cut, use your other hand to pull the skin back, as shown.
Pull-Apart the Skin
To open the durian, use your hands. The skin is pretty easy to tear, so watch out not to get poked by the spikes. Now, you should be able to open the durian fully. Place each half on your cutting board.
Remove the Fruit
Using a spoon (or your hands), remove the large “pods” of fruit. Place the fruit on a plate.
Remove Stones from Fruit
Before you eat or serve the fruit, you should take out the stones. Some people in Southeast Asian countries boil or roast these stones and eat them.
Cut Open the Other Sections
Cut along the seam in the middle of the inside “shell” with your knife to find more fruit sections.
Removing Additional Sections
Use a spoon or your fingers to take out the extra pieces of fruit and put them on the plate.
Washing your Hands
Your hands can smell like durian all day when you work with durian. This is a hint: Running hot water through (or around) the durian skin makes very mild lye water that, when mixed with soap, helps eliminate the smell.
Where to Buy Durian?
Many Asian markets in the U.S. sell durian. The fruit is in season from June to August, when it is most likely to be sold fresh. Look for spikes that are light in colour and don’t have any dark brown spots or white bits in between them. These are signs that the fruit is too ripe.
If the durian rattles when you shake it, it is too dry and no longer safe to eat. Stems that are dry and shrivelled should be avoided. Durian also keeps well when frozen or canned, which is how it is often exported and sold. Asian markets have frozen and canned durian all year long.
How to Store Durian?
Durians ripen quickly, so you shouldn’t have to leave them out for more than a couple of days before you can eat them. To slow the ripening process, you can put the whole fruit in the fridge for up to two days, wrapped in paper or plastic. But be warned: it will make your fridge smell (and everything in it). Cooked durian can be kept in the fridge for a few days in a container that keeps air out. Durian can also be frozen for up to three months in a bag with a zip-top and no air.
Durian Fruit Benefits for Health:
Improves Digestive Health
The fibre in durian makes it easier to go to the bathroom, which helps keep you from getting constipated and keeps your digestive system healthy. The thiamin in the fruit may help the elderly eat more and feel better in general. The fibre in durian fruit also speeds up the peristaltic movement in the intestines, which makes digestion easier. It can also help with problems like bloating, gas, and heartburn.
Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases
The organosulfur in durians may help to control the enzymes that cause inflammation and lower the risk of heart diseases. Studies have shown that eating fruits high in soluble dietary fibre may help lower LDL-C levels and the risk of coronary heart disease. Durian fruit is good for your heart and has a lot of fibre.
Maintains Blood Sugar Levels
Manganese in durian may help keep blood sugar at a healthy level. Diabetes patients who eat durian also have a better insulin response when they do so. The antioxidants in durian also help reduce oxidative stress, which can make diabetes symptoms worse if it isn’t taken care of. Durian is a great fruit that is good for you and has a low glycemic index (GI). So, the fruit would not cause a rise in blood sugar.
Regulates Blood Pressure Levels
Potassium can be found in the durian, and researchers have found that eating more potassium can help lower blood pressure. The fruit’s potassium also helps open up blood vessels, and it can help keep the right amount of fluid and salt in the body’s cells. The mineral may help reduce stress on the blood vessels and lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Helps in Weight Gain
People who want to gain weight without eating fake calories should eat durian fruit regularly and in moderation. The high number of calories in durian fruit is the main reason it is good for you. When you eat 100 grams of durian, you get about 147 calories. It’s also a good source of carbohydrates, which give our bodies energy in a steady stream and the energy we need to do things every day. It has a lot of healthy fats that are good for our health and help us gain weight.
Bolsters Immunity and Metabolism
Our immune system is our body’s defence system, which plays a big role in ensuring we stay healthy. Our body’s defence system keeps bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that can make us sick from getting inside and making us sick. It is important to keep your immune system in good shape; durian fruit can help you do that. When we eat durian fruit regularly and in small amounts, it helps our immune systems a lot. Most of the benefit of durian fruit comes from the fact that it has vitamin C.
Lowers Cancer Risk
People say that durians have antioxidant properties that may help lower cancer risk. Polyphenols in the fruit slow cancer growth and even kill cancer cells. It is known that free radicals kill healthy cells and help cancer spread. Since durians’ antioxidants fight free radicals, they may also help lower cancer risk.
Strengthens Bones and Joints
The calcium, potassium, and magnesium in durian fruits are in high amounts. These minerals help keep bones healthy by increasing bone density, making joints more flexible, and making collagen fibres stronger. Both men and women can improve their bone mineral density by eating durian fruit regularly, but only in small amounts.
Thailand is the biggest exporter of durian in the world. Here in the U.S., you can buy durian at Asian markets or Asian grocery stores. Look for spikes that are light in colour and don’t have any dark brown spots or bits of white in between them. These are signs that the fruit is too ripe. Because durian fruit freezes well, it is often shipped overseas and sold frozen. Keep your durian in the fridge or somewhere cool until you’re ready to eat it.