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Durian (in Thai "turien") is considered to be the "king of fruits" of Southeast Asia.
Its name, apparently is derived from the Malay word "duri", which means "thorn." Indeed, the fruit is covered with a tough skin with very sharp thorns on the entire surface (in some cases, you wont be able to pick it up without gloves).
The birthplace of this exotic fruit is considered to be the island of Borneo and Sumatra (in other words - Malaysia and Indonesia). Some time later durian appeared in other countries in the region: Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam, New Guinea.

In Thailand, they started cultivating the fruit in the South - where the natural conditions are consistent with the place of its origin and only then it has spread over the whole country. In 1687 the Thai government ordered to pay the owners of durian plantations 1/2 baht for each tree per year, and in 1854 the price rose up to one baht, whereas the cultivating of mango orchards, jackfruit and mangosteen has only been encouraged by 1 / 3 baht per tree. Interestingly, in case of death of a durian tree its owner was obliged to grow a new one.

Durian trees begin to bear fruit on the 4-5th year of life, can reach a height of 40-50 meters, and under favorable environmental conditions can live more than a hundred years. By the way, it is believed that the older the tree, the more tasty the pulp of the fruit. Trees are propagated by grafting and seedlings. Fruits usually have a size of 15 to 30 cm in diameter, weighing between 1 to 4 kg and consist of five segments, each contains several large seeds covered in creamy flesh. It is this flesh that is the subject of all the fuss of having to endure an unusual smell, overcoming restrictions on appearance with durians in public, opening the fruit on your own, etc..

Thanks to the constant breeding in the central provinces new varieties appeared, valued above traditional southern ones, by the way Chanthaburi province hosts the annual (in May) World Festival of Durians.

Durian season in Thailand is from May to October.
Most often the process of collecting durians is very original – people are simply waiting for them to fall down by themselves. Then within 2-4 days the fruit is ready to eat. And only in the south of Thailand the fruits are being taken off, without waiting for them to fall from a tree.
Incidentally, Thailand is the largest exporter and manufacturer of durians in the world! And, for example, in 1999, Thailand has grown 781,000 tons of fruit, considering the world production of 1 400 000 tonnes per year.

You can mark the begining of the season by the appearance on the market of the original and incomparable flavor, described by many travelers who have tried it but never came to a consensus. The smell would remind them of rotten onions, someone would remember dirty worn socks, some would think of a smell of decaying flesh ... Br-rr! I wonder what kind of durians all these people smelled? Obviously not the one I was sniffing :)

Why there are so many opinions about the aroma and taste of durian?
There are two theories on this subject.
First: the local population as "advanced and experienced tasters" often prefers to eat already overripe (in my subjective opinion) fruit - that "smells" for sure
Second: newcomers who do not know how and where to buy a durian, not knowing what it should be like, but obviously having heard about the vile taste and smell, finaly after having found it in the supermarket (and that is where you should NOT buy durians), buy it and courageously, choking and hiccuping eat it. Only to proudly say, "Yes, I ate that stuff. Indeed, taste like rotten onions. "

In my opinion, the fruit is the most ripe when a slice has a yellowish-cream color and springs just a little bit, (that is when the flesh is not unripe anymore, and not yet totally gruel), so the smell is not repulsive and the fruit has the most appealing taste.

Speaking about the taste, there are differences in opinion: someone is talking about custard or cream cheese flavored with banana, mango, pineapple, papaya and vanilla, taken together, someone might think of cream eggs and milk, some find it tastes like dried apricots, mixed with cream and chocolate. These comparisons are far from the epithets of those who tasted the overripe fruit. I usually compare durian with walnut cream cheese with a hint of fresh pineapple and strawberries.

The right moment of ripeness is very easy to miss, so when buying a durian in the store, which has been previously transported, stored, without taking into account the maturity of the fruit, most likely, you will be disappointed.
It is way better to buy durian in the market where the salesman, armed with a special wooden stick and gently tapping the fruit with a greenish-brown color and a strong stem, will pick up a fruit with no alterations of the skin and firm spikes. While shaking it you should be hearing the sound of the seeds inside.

The durian is sold, as a rule, already opened, on a polystyrene plate, packed in plastic. That way it is more convenient to pick the right one (through the film one can easily understand the degree of maturity, its flavor and texture) without having to bother cutting the strong barbed peel. In this case, the price per kilogram will be three times higher than the sale price of the whole, unopened fruit.

Note: Strongly NOT recommended having a fresh durian with alcohol - it can result in a strong food poisoning!

There are some designations with a capital letter D and a number in the classification of durians.
Here are some varieties that grow in Thailand (Photos taken from http://teakdoor.com):

Durian Cha Nee or Gibbon (D123)
Named so because of the location of fruit on the very tip of the branches, they also resemble a gibbon hanging on a tree.

Durian Mon Thong or Gold Pillow (D159)
In Thai, Mon means «cushion» and Thong means «gold», it is named so because of the resemblance of the yellow slices of fruit with a pillow.

Durian Kan Yao or Long Leg (D158)
Kan means «peduncle», Yao means «long». And indeed, this kind of durian has a longer leg than the other kinds.

Durian Kradum Thong or Golden Button
In Thai Kradum means «Button», Thong means «gold», the fruit has wedges of round shape, look almost like the buttons on the ancient Chinese shirts.

Different sorts has different taste and smell and the period of maturation:   Cha Nee 90-100 days, Kan Yao 120-135 days, Mon Thong  125-135 days and Kradum Thong 90-100 days.

Durian is widely used in cooking (candy, chips, cookies, ice cream, cakes, milk shakes).
It can be used as a replacement in the famous dessert of mango with sticky rice, cooked in coconut milk, in which case the dish is called Khao Niew Numgati Thurian.
Besides the pulp the seeds are also being used in cooking. They can be boiled, fried in a pan and deep-fried (Note: in the raw form the seeds are toxic to the body!).
The young leaves and shoots of the durian are used as greens for salads.
The flower petals are eaten in Sumatra, and in the Moluccas durians rind is used as a fuel for fish smoking.

In addition to its pure taste, the durian fruit is also very good for health.
It includes vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, folic acid, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, copper and zinc. Durian is the world's only edible fruit containing organic sulfur (sulfur is part of some amino acids, hormones, including insulin, enzymes, antioxidants, is an indispensable part of cells, tissues, organs, nerves, cartilage and bone, skin, hair, and nails). In Malaysia, a decoction of durian leaves and roots is used as an antipyretic and leaf juice is rubbed into one’s head in case of fever.

Bon Appetit and Cheers!

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