Durian

From Academic Kids

Durian

Durian
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Malvales
Family:Malvaceae (Bombacaceae)
Genus:Durio
Species

Durio dulcis
Durio graveolens
Durio kutejensis
Durio oxlevanus
Durio zibethinus

The Durian (Durio) is a plant and genus of 25-30 species of tropical trees native to southeast Asia. They are large trees, able to grow up to 40 meters in height. The leaves are evergreen, opposite, elliptic to oblong and 10-18 cm long. The flowers are produced in clusters of 3-30 together on large branches and the trunk, each flower having a calyx and 5 (rarely 4 or 6) petals.

The durian fruit matures in about 3 months after pollination. It can grow up to 30 cm long and 20 cm in diameter, and typically weighs 1-5 kg. The fruit can hang from any branch. A typical durian tree can bear fruit after 4-5 years. The color of the fruit ranges from green to brown, the shape oblong to round. Its distinctive features are a hard outer husk which is covered with sharp, prickly thorns, and a strong, distinctive odour which emits from the flesh within. Some regard this odour as fragrant, while the uninitiated may find it overpowering or even offensive. The edible portion of the fruit is the yellowish, curd-like flesh which surrounds a hard seed. The seeds, which are the size of chestnuts, can be eaten if roasted, fried, or boiled. Some Westerners have described the experience of eating the durian as "like eating custard in a public lavatory". The fruit also looks quite similar to the jackfruit, even though they are not particularly related.

A durian falling on a person's head can cause serious injuries or death due to the fact that it is heavy, spiky, and may fall from high up, so a hardhat is essential when collecting the fruit. Because of this, the durian is sometimes called the most dangerous fruit in the world.

The scientific name for the commercial durian is Durio zibethinus. Other edible durian species are sometimes available in the local markets of Southeast Asia.

The durian is known as the king of the fruits, whilst the mangosteen is the queen of fruits. Its name comes from the Malay word "duri", which means "spike" or "thorn".

There are many cultivars of the durian, each having a name and also a code number starting with "D". For example, some popular clones are D24, D99, D158 and D159 (or 'Mon Thong'). Since the durian is the topic of study in certain agricultural institutions, certain commercialized strains are given a D number to distinguish them from "standard" wild varieties.

Contents

Availability and ripeness

The durian is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, although it can grow in any similar climate. The center of ecological diversity for durians is the island of Borneo. Thailand is a major exporter of durians. Other places where durians are grown include Mindanao in the Philippines, Queensland in Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, and parts of Hawaii.

In the Philippines, the center of durian production is the Davao Region in Mindanao. The Kadayawan festival is an annual celebration featuring the durian in Davao City.

In the Western world, durians are available from supermarkets catering to Eastern Asian communities.

The exact state of ripeness for a durian to be enjoyed varies from country to country in Southeast Asia. As a general rule of thumb, the Thais like their durians relatively young, that is to say the fruit has to be plucked from the tree. Eaten in this state, the clusters of fruit within the shell are still crisp in texture and mild in both flavour and aroma.

In Malaysia and Singapore however, durian aficionados prefer the fruit to fall from the tree and may even risk allowing the fruit to continue ripening before opening it. Eaten in this state, the flesh becomes richly creamy, the aroma more pronounced and the flavour highly complex. It is often said amongst the Malaysians and Singaporeans that a balance between the bitter and sweet flavours signifies the perfect state of ripeness but to the Thais, this level of ripeness can be excessive. What is agreed however, is that when the flesh starts to ferment and becomes alcoholic, the point of ripeness has been exceeded and the fruit should not be eaten.

What is known about the durian is that the ripe flesh is a complex hybrid of volatile sulfurous compounds, not all of which have been identified. These compounds oxidise upon exposure to air and are responsible for the complex flavours that develop.

Durians forbidden sign in Malaysia
Enlarge
Durians forbidden sign in Malaysia

Due to the fruit's strong odour, it is forbidden to bring durians as hand luggage onto aircraft belonging to some airlines, to carry them on the Singapore public transit system, or to store or eat them in many hotels.

Selection

Many regular durian-eaters have their own methods of selecting the best fruit from a given pile. In the past such methods were important given that the durian is a seasonal fruit which used to be harvested once a year. Nowadays it is harvested about twice a year and it is not so important to always be able to choose the best fruit available. Due to increased supply the retailers have become more competitive in their approach.

Knowing how to pick the right fruit was imperative when retailers sold the fruit "as is", without dissection. Today resellers usually dissect the fruit and sell only the edible parts inside. This has made it much easier for the customer to discern the quality of the fruit he is buying.

Selection of durians on a farm is simpler. Fruit from the same tree will generally have the same properties, and fruit is generally allowed to ripen and fall from the tree so the ripeness of the fruit is not a matter of concern.

Selection of fruit outside of a farm setting is slightly trickier. The following are some of the basic methods used:

Missing image
Durian_stall.JPG
A durian stall in Singapore

1) Generally the freshness of a fruit can be ascertained from the stalk. Once a fruit has been removed from the tree the stalk starts to dry off. Unscrupulous merchants may seek to wrap or paint the stalk to prevent easy detection. Other merchants may even remove the stalks.

2) Most customers enjoy the fruit when the pulp is dry and mature. An easy way to tell if the pulp is dry without opening the fruit is to shake the fruit and listen for a slight rattling. Moist pulp sticks to the inside of the fruit, while dry pulp tends to be separate from the inside walls of the fruit. Care must be taken that one is not injured by the thorns of the fruit in this operation.

3) Durians may be attacked by insect pests which lay eggs in the fruit. These develop into worm-like larvae, which burrow into the flesh of the fruit. It is important in purchasing whole fruit to avoid buying fruit with any holes in them, as this indicates the presence of insect infestation. On the other hand, some customers knowingly buy durians with "worms" present, in the belief that the presence of worms is a sign that the fruit will be sweet and tasty.

Opening

It is recommended that beginners purchase durians which have been already been opened as opening the fruit is somewhat tricky. Usually it is possible to find stalls where the edible pulp is sold packed in boxes, sans the shell. Most merchants will open the fruit as a service once the buyer has agreed to purchase it. However, a durian once opened has to be consumed within a few hours as opened fruit will quickly begin to exude moisture. This will cause the fruit to lose much of its flavour and become rather tasteless.

The fruit can be opened with a combination of experience, technique and commonly available tools. Inspection of the outside of the fruit will reveal "lines" where the thorns grow in straight rows as opposed to the seemingly random distribution on the rest of the surface. In general it is possible to find up to 5 such "lines".

If the stalk is seen to be the upper end of the durian, turn the fruit upside down and the lines should converge at a point somewhere near the bottom of the fruit. Gently insert a sharp object into this point. An awl, the corner of a meat cleaver or even a screwdriver will serve well. Next slide the sharp object along one of the aformentioned "lines". It may be a good idea to support the fruit with a glove or a thick rag with the other hand while attempting this.

Once the fruit has been separated into two parts, the flesh inside may be consumed. The parts can be segmented further by using the base of the palms to push on the rim on opposite sides.

Properties

In some countries, durian is considered to have "heaty" properties, liable to cause sweating. The traditional method to counteract this is to pour saltwater from the empty shell of the fruit, after the pulp has been entirely consumed, and drink it. Another method is to eat the durian in accompaniment with mangosteens, considered to have cooling properties.

People with high blood pressure are traditionally advised to avoid durian due to its richness.

Thornless durians

Some durian are sold "thornless". These fruits have the thorns sheared off when young rather than being naturally thornless.

External links

de:Durian fr:Durion id:Durian ms:Durian ja:ドリアン zh:榴槤

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