If you’ve been to Southeast Asia, chances are you have seen a fresh durian fruit. After all, they’re pretty hard to miss, with their large size and thorny exterior. Durians are a healthy fruit, but they’re also pretty divisive thanks to their distinct, pungent smell that not everyone can manage. Are you looking to give it a try for yourself? When can you get a fresh durian?
There are two durian seasons each year. The main season runs during the rainy season from June to September. A second “minor“ Durian season starts in December and ends in February. A ripe durian has tender, soft flesh and a somewhat stinky smell.
Read on to discover more about this controversial fruit, including when to find it, its health benefits, and why it’s banned in some places.
What Is Durian?
Durian is a slightly oval fruit that’s covered in spikes and can be about a foot wide. The fruit weighs between two and six pounds. If you have to pick up a durian, hold it by the stem so it won’t pierce your skin!
The primary thing about the durian that causes controversy is the smell. Some people believe the smell of this fruit is pleasant. However, most agree the smell is putrid. And the smell tends to linger, even after you extract the fruit within.
You’ll see cottony flesh and big seeds when you finally cut open a durian. The flesh of durians can vary in color. It’s usually white or yellow, but it can also be green or red.
This fruit grows in tropical regions, most notably in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia in Southeast Asia.
Durians are usually used in both savory and sweet dishes. The silky flesh and large seeds are both edible. However, it’s best to cook the seeds before eating them. This polarizing fruit can be boiled, roasted, used as a side dish, and even with desserts.
Generally, people describe the durian’s flavor as a combination of almonds, cheese, caramel, and garlic. Sound tasty?
What Are the Health Benefits of Durian?
Durians offer a number of medicinal benefits. Durian has been common in traditional Malaysian medicine. All parts of the durian, including the husk, leaves, roots, and fruit, can treat various illnesses, such as jaundice and other skin conditions.
Furthermore, studies show that durians can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Moreover, this fruit contains compounds that may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
On top of that, the rind in durians has anti-yeast and antibacterial properties to combat infections.
When Is Durian Season?
The weather heavily influences the durian season. Durian trees need lots of rain to bear fruit. Furthermore, they only produce fruit once or twice every year. As a result, there are two durian seasons in Southeast Asia.
The main season runs from June to September. Then, a shorter season comes along from December to February. If you’re looking for a particularly tasty durian, it’s best to wait for the main season; that’s when the fruits are at their best.
In order to pick out a ripe durian, look for a fruit that’s relatively light and whose stem is large and solid. Shake the fruit a bit; the seeds should move around inside. You can also insert a knife into the fruit. If it comes out sticky, you’re good to go!
If you’re craving the unique flavor during the off season, you can try a handful of popular durian-based products, such as freeze-dried durian chips (on Amazon) or durian flavor mung bean cakes (also on Amazon).
Why Is Durian Banned?
Remember the smell we talked about? Well, the smell is pretty bothersome to a lot of people. The odor led to durians being banned from all forms of transportation and hotels in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore. It’s so intense that taxis in Singapore have a sign telling passengers not to carry the fruit.