Durian Diaries: How to Choose a Durian
Not all durians are created equal. Some are better than others. The big question is: How to choose a durian that stands out from the rest? You want a durian with flesh that’s and creamy, not dry and rubbery. Many durian aficionados also prefer flavours that are complex and rich.
Much like wine, the terroir matters, as well as the altitude and age of the durian tree. Trees at a higher altitude often produce better durians. Older trees produce fruits with more complex flavours; sometimes you’d even get fruits that induce an interesting tingling sensation on tongue.
Need some help with picking the perfect durian? Here are some useful tips.
The rounder a durian is, the more chambers it has. However, perfectly round durians tend to taste more bland than irregularly-shaped ones. The best shape for a durian is usually oblong.
A thick stalk could indicate that a durian received a lot of nutrients from its tree, and therefore has fleshier pulp.
The colour of the spikes could tell you how ripe a durian is. Bright green spikes indicate an underripe durian, whereas dry brown spikes point to an overripe one. For the perfect ripeness, look for green spikes with brown tips.
The rounded base of the durian where the husk is thickest, so you’ll not be able to smell much. Instead, sniff around the “seams” of the durian, where the spikes run parallel. If there is no fragrance, or if the fragrance is very faint, the durian isn’t ripe. If the smell is overly strong and putrid, then it’s overripe – especially if the stalk looks dry and withered. The ideal aroma should have notes of honey and butterscotch.
Grasp the durian firmly and give it a shake. If it rattles, it means that the flesh is dry and scant. If there’s no noise, the fruit may be underripe or overripe. When a durian is underripe, its flesh would be hard and bland. On the other hand, an overripe durian would feel heavy and have waterlogged flesh. A durian with ideal ripeness would make a crisp, clear, and slightly squishy sound when shaken.
There are good and bad times to buy durians during a durian season. Prices and demand would be sky-high at the start of the season, while quality would be lower at the end of the season. The best time to get your durian fix would be about three weeks into a durian season.