The tropical fruit durian (tu-rian), found in Southeast Asia and plentiful in Thailand, is a most peculiar fruit. Its undesirable smell and appearance are in contradiction to its flavour and nutritional benefits. The expression “take the good with the bad” comes to mind when considering this popular fruit.
Durians resemble a jackfruit, but with spines. It is not the most attractive fruit, resembling a medieval weapon, and would not be a natural choice for a delicious delicacy. But to the contrary, it is delicious and quite nutritious.
It has a greenish brown husk with a white fleshy creamy fruit inside, which some say tastes like a multitude of flavors ranging from onion and garlic to butterscotch. It is not your typical fruity taste,
Thailand produces several varieties of the durian, most notably the odorless variety recently created by a Thai government scientist in 2007. Since most of the conversation surrounding the durian fruit is about its usual distinctive odor, it seemed only fitting to modify the fruit genetically.
It may be the only fruit to have been banned in public places, including some mass transit systems.
Although Chantaburi No. 1 was the first odorless variety, there have been a few additional varieties developed in order to satisfy consumers that rather prefer the odor. These later versions allow for odorless transport for a few days after they are picked, only to return to the usual stench of what some describe to be a mixture of paint remover, spoiled onions and raw sewage.
By breaking down aroma extract from Thai durians, a group of scientists were recently able to figure out that the unusual odor of the durian stems from the combination of fifty compounds in the fruit.
Of the compounds found, four were unknown to science until the study was performed. We can thank the stench of the durian for this.
Durians are a bit of a scientific wonder for another reason that can be deadly. In 2009, the durian extract was found to inhibit the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, or ALDH. This is the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the liver.
It would be safe to say that a person would be wise not to drink alcohol and eat a durian at the same time. Most of Asian culture knows this to be dangerous and possibly life threatening.
For the most part, durians are consumed in traditional Asian recipes and can be a nice main ingredient to cheesecake, ice cream and Thai desserts. If eating it raw, just break into the husk, similar to a nut, with a knife. Open up the fruit to the flesh inside and remove the seeds, as they are inedible.
On the other hand, durians are an excellent source of fat and calories and one of the most nutritious fruits on earth.
Health Benefits of Durian
High in fiber, protein, vitamin C, thiamine, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, and riboflavin, just to list a few, the durian is a definite superfruit.
Enjoy and remember to wash your hands, because the durian’s revenge may linger on them all day.