The ripe durian is best known for its terrible smell of over-ripe cheese, rotten onions, turpentine and drains. Hotels in Thailand often display signboards that Durians are not allowed inside the building. Despite this, it is highly appreciated by many for its special sweet and aromatic taste. Durian is also known as the "king of fruits".
Basic information and facts
Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia
South-East Asia, West-Indies, Madagascar. Highest production is in Chanthaburi, a province in Thailand about 240 km east of Bangkok.
Evergreen or deciduous:
Large yellowish green feathery flowers, which produce a lot of nectar. Flowers have a heavy, sour and buttery odor.
Elliptic to oblong leaves, 10-18 cm long, 3-7 cm wide. The leaves are smooth with a light or dark green color/ The underside of the leaves has a golden sheen.
Durian has spiky fruits with a hard, brownish-green peel. Fruits vary in size but can be larger as a human head (30-40 cm). Weight from 1 to 5 kilos. Fruits hang from the branches. Fruits are filled with an edible, cream-colored, custard-like pulp. Embedded in the pulp are one to five chestnut-sized seeds. Durian fuits have a mild sweet flavor but a very pungent bad smelling odor. The flesh is widely believed to act as an aphrodisiac.
Climate and weather:
Needs a tropical climate with abundant rainfall.
Pollination mainly by fruit bats. Human hand-pollination increases fruit set.
Big trees often 25 meter tall. Some even up to 40 meter.
Durian trees have one or two flowering and fruiting periods each year. The timing depends on species and locality. In East Thailand the main blooming period is December to February.
Type of soil:
Prefers rich, deep, well-drained sandy clay or clay loam (deep alluvial or loamy soil), high in organic matter.
pH range of 6-7
Spacing (close range)
Spacing (wide range)
Seedlings or vegetative propagation.
Durian fruit borer: Conogethes punctiferalis, Durian seed borer: Mudaria luteileprosa, Durian Psyllid: Allocaridara malayensis , African red mite: Eutetranychus africanus
Root and stem rot: Phytophthora palmivora, Fruit rot: Phytophthora palmivora
After pollination of the flowers fruit development takes about 3 months.
Wait until the fruit falls from the tree and wait 2 to 4 days for the fruit to fully ripen before eating it. If fruits are harvested while still on the tree, the flesh will have a firmer texture and flavor and odor will be milder.
Eat as fruit. It is believed to have aphrodisiac properties (= stimulating sexual desire).
Proverbs and Quotes
- Encountering a fallen Durian. (= good luck)
- Like a cucumber versus a durian. (This refers to the
struggle between the weak and the strong. The strong (i.e. the
durian) will always win.).
- Durian: tastes like heaven … smells like hell.
- When the durians fall down the sarongs go up. (This saying refers to the aphrodisiac effects of durians)
Did you know that?
- Durians are said to have aphrodisiac effects. But that’s not the reason that this fruit is forbidden in many Asian hotels. The reason for this ban is its very strong smell.
- While apple is known as "the forbidden fruit" it is actually the durian that should (sometimes) be called the forbidden fruit.
- Breadfruit (very ripe)
- Mamey sapote
Separate flesh of durian and breadfruit from shell and seeds, placing edible parts into one large serving bowl. Scoop out the flesh of the canistel and mamey and blend these two together with some water for a reasonably runny consistency. Pour blend onto durian and breadfruit and mix together all ingredients well. Serve to your guests, allowing them to savor each and every rich mouthful of what is truly Heaven’s Delight!
Crème de la Cuke
Separate durian flesh from seeds and rind and place it into a bowl. Slice cucumbers into thin discs. Place some durian flesh (separate large pods if necessary) onto each piece of cucumber, then place these on serving platters. Treat your guests to this entrée – see if they can resist!
The Billionaire’s Salad
- Sprouted coconut
- Iceberg lettuce
Chop lettuce into fine pieces and place in a very large salad bowl. Put celery through a food processor so it has a texture similar to rice, then add this to the salad. Chop sprouted coconut in half, cracking open the hard shell (you may need someone with some experience (and a sharp machete). Take out sponge-like coconut flesh and place on a cutting board. Chop the “sponge” into small cubes and add this to the salad. Prepare durian pods for blending – blend until creamy. Dress this luxurious, lavish salad with the durian-cream. Your guests will be astounded by the taste of this plant food.
These three recipes were contributed by a reader who added that "even with the most fancy recipes you could think of with durian, the fruit is best eaten by itself in all its glory".