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Durian

Durian

It's fair to say that durian is the most polarizing fruit in the world. Many people adore its creamy, custardy taste, while others are put off by its unusual scent.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Durian is an excellent source of vitamin C. About 2/3 cup of this fruit, or 140 grams, delivers one-third of your Daily Value. Vitamin C helps repair body tissue and heal wounds, and it enhances the absorption of iron, zinc and copper.
  • Likewise, durian is a good source of potassium. According to the USDA, a diet rich in potassium can help to counterbalance some of the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
  • And if you're looking for an excellent source of thiamin, riboflavin or vitamin B6, durian has all three! This trio of nutrients aids your body's energy metabolism.

History

This large, spiky fruit is certainly a conversation-starter. Durian probably comes from Borneo or Sumatra, originally. It was introduced to the West about 600 years ago, and its rich flavor and powerful aroma have been dividing connoisseurs and critics ever since.

In 1856, British naturalist Alfred Russell Whitehead, an early proponent of durian, said of the fruit, "the more you eat of it, the less you feel inclined to stop." Of its aroma, he explained that, "to those not used to it, it seems at first to smell like rotten onions, but immediately after they have tasted it they prefer it to all other food." Other foodies agree. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, a noted durian enthusiast, said that durian's flavor is "something you will either love or despise," warning durian eaters to watch out for halitosis afterwards.

Varieties

There are nine edible varieties of durian, but just one or two can typically be found in the U.S.

When is Durian in Season?

Durian is not cultivated in the U.S., but in Malaya it matures in March and April, and in Ceylon between July and October. Durian is in season only briefly, making it a hot commodity in the summertime. Look for it in Asian fruit markets.

How to Choose Durian

To choose a good, ripe durian, you can try sniffing the base of its stem. If it gives off a strong odor, it's ripe. You can also heft it in your hand (be careful, its husk is very spiky) and thump it with the dull end of a butter knife. If it makes a deep thunk, then it's probably ready to eat.

How to store Durian

Wrap the inner, edible fruit in plastic and refrigerate it or—to make it last longer and reduce the aroma—freeze it.

How to Prepare and Enjoy Durian

Opening a durian takes some muscle and a large knife. Try laying down newspaper and using a cleaver to cut the fruit in half. Then, pick out the soft, yellow, fleshy lobes and discard the spiny husk.

Key Measurements

Durian can be measured in cups (sliced) or in individual lobes.

Substitutions

Honestly, for flavor or aroma, no other fruit or veggie comes close to durian. If you'd like to reproduce something of the texture and color, ripe avocados are your best bet.

Flavor Profile of Durian

Durian is usually enjoyed fresh and raw. Whitehead gave a much quoted description of durian's flavor: "A rich custard highly flavored with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavor that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy."

This fruit's taste is sui generis: sweet, creamy and slightly nutty. It can be served with sweet or savory foods, cheeses or rice, and is occasionally paired with cognac.

Durian in Recipes

Get adventurous! Since its flavor is nutty and somewhat custardy, durian can be added to ice creams, smoothies or custards. Just taste it raw first to make sure you like it.

Try replacing avocado with durian in these Creamy Avocado Smoothies, or using durian in place of maple or vanilla to flavor Maple Custard or Healthified Creamy Custards.

Reviews & Comments

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