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When do I crack open my Durian?

I realize from searching that durian has been discussed extensively on Chow, but I can't find the answer to my question. Any help is appreciated!

I had durian many years ago at a friends house, and I thought it was heavenly. Superb. Unforgettable. Awesome.

Then yesterday I was in Denver, and located an awesome Asian market, even bought my groceries for a month there (this year's holiday menu will be REALLY interesting!).

And I bought a fresh durian, "flying horse' brand in a yellow plastic mesh bag with a green tag. I tried all the usual internet tips for selecting, like shaking it (no sound or rattle that I could hear), and smelling it near the stem. Smells like strawberries and bananas, very pleasant. They were not refrigerated in the bin.

It now sits there evilly on my countertop, injuring friends who try to pick it up. It glares at me. My cats are terrified of it. The aroma has increased a bit in 24 hours, but is still very pleasant.

My question is, when do I crack this bad boy open? How long do I wait? How can I tell when it's ready? Do durians even ripen sitting on the counter? I'd hate to open it to early and miss out on the wonderful taste and texture.

Any help appreciated.


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  1. The durian will tell you when it is ready to be eaten.

    When the durian fruit is ripe the husk begins to crack open on its own. This means it is ready to be split open (either with a cleaver or by hands of steel) and consumed. Some people let it ripen beyond that until the flesh is creamy, slightly alcoholic, and strongly aromatic. Yes, even more "aromatic" than normal, ripe durian.


    (By the way, isn't it past durian season (June-August)? Are you sure you did not buy one that was previously frozen?)

    11 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit


      I just don't know on the previously frozen part. They didn't speak much english at the market. It *looks* fresh, anyway. They were all in a big non-refrigerated wire mesh bin in individual plastic mesh bags.

      I guess I'll find out!


      1. re: ipsedixit

        Yeah, I was thinking they're probably durians that were frozen and defrosted, especially since you're in Colorado. Unless you're in Hawaii or Guam, or possibly California, it's a 99% chance that it's previously frozen and you can pretty much open it right now.

        To be safe, I wouldn't wait more than 3 days after you bought it to eat it. Maybe put it in the fridge to help it last another day or two, but that depends on how scared you are of the smell permeating all the other food in your fridge/freezer.

        1. re: yfunk3

          Some would say it is better to eat durian after it's been sitting around rotting. Nothing is finer than rotten durian, some would argue.

          But, of course, this raises the question of whether the term "rotten durian" is sort of a misnomer like "ATM machine" because, y'know, the acronym ATM stands for Automatic Teller Machine, right? :-)

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Yeah, you're right the argument about durian preference, but I was thinking that since the durian has already been frozen and defrosted, it's not gonna "ripen" anymore than it already has, and would actually just get rotten for real instead of "maturing". Durian isn't exactly cheap, so I was thinking it's better safe than sorry to eat it sooner.

            I'm no botanist, though! :o)

            1. re: yfunk3

              "get rotten for real instead of "maturing"."

              For durina, I really think "gett[ing] rotten for real" is the same as "maturing"

              If I recall what my uncle told me, even defrosted durian will crack open on its own if left around for long enough. Something about the gases that develop deep within the heart of darkness...

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Ah, gotcha. It's bound to be a little slimier-than-usual anyway due to being frozen and defrosted, so the thought of letting the durian sit for a while is sort of unappetizing to a huge durian fan like me! Heh.

                1. re: yfunk3

                  Most people are sort of afraid to leave durian on the counter (as opposed to the fridge or freezer) for fear of upsetting their neighbors. Not careful and they might call the cops thinking you're harboring a dead, decomposing body or animal, or something even more grotesque ...

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Or someone has a horrible flatulence problem. :o)

                    I always just mainly got the fart scent from durian, not any dead or decomposing anything. But maybe I've been experiencing a different kind of durian!

                    It definitely is strong, that's for damn sure. Heh.

                    1. re: yfunk3

                      I describe it as used diapers left in the sun for a day or two. And I *like* durian!

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        A friend who went to Malaysia in the Peace Corps describes her durian-eating experiences as "like eating peach custard in an outhouse"

        2. re: ipsedixit

          Funny coming across this thread. I was in HK2 supermarket (Rowland Heights, CA) over the weekend and saw probably the saddest excuse for a durian fruit I'd ever seen.

          It sat in the corner, wrinkled and pale, in the corner of the refrigerated fruit section, exuding hardly any odor (even when I pressed my nose to it). And here's the kicker.... the spiky, medieval weapon-like husk was soft! It actually gave way when I pressed on it. I came away very curious as to what happened to this durian to put it in such a sad state.

          Since fresh, never-frozen durian has an odor that knocks you on your tuchus, I assumed it had been previously frozen, and had been left out past it's prime. There was no splitting of the skin that I detected.

          Mr Taster

        3. take it to your workplace and open it up at your desk for a mid morning snack! Make sure everyone gets a taste.

          4 Replies
          1. re: DukeOfSuffolk

            Make sure everyone gets a taste.


            Actually it tastes rather pedestrian (sort of like a canteloupe mango blend). It's getting past the odor to get close enough so that you can actually convince yourself to bring it to one of your orifices and ingest something so malodorous. For newbies, really have to channel your inner Jedi and use the Force.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Tastes pedestrian? Maybe a pedestrian rotten onion.

            2. re: DukeOfSuffolk

              ahh we had a durian at work (I work at a hotel) and we cracked that baby open and I left the half that we did not eat in my bosses office....

              Hours later, I walked by and all the office doors were open with fans trying to air out the office....I still laugh about it!

              1. Okay -- so for those who have had fresh durian, is it worth it?

                I've read all the horror stories, and the story about not being able to take them on public buses because of the odor.

                I've talked to people who wax rhapsodic about them, others who detest them, and still others who shrug and murmur 'meh'.

                i can buy them fresh here from an Asian market (sitting out at room temperature with stems and leaves...no doubt in my mind they're fresh and not frozen (because they have frozen ones in the freezer compartments on the other side of the store)

                But they're not cheap, and I haven't the vaguest clue what to do with one (but Google is my friend, so I'm not worried about that)....but I also don't want some stinky thing sitting in the trash making the neighbors wonder who/what I've killed because the flavor doesn't live up to the hype.

                19 Replies
                1. re: sunshine842

                  The time to open the durian is when your family is out of the house.....
                  I for one love durian, but I have never had it fresh. I like the frozen, cleaned durian. No mess...eat it when its still slightly frozen. Just like custard. Or as my neice screamed when I gave her a taste- "Onion ice cream!"

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    This time of the year, I doubt you're see fresh durian. The ones you see laying around the produce aisle simply have been defrosted for your convenience.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      the leaves attached to the green stems are viable, not frozen.

                      They're fresh.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        I don't think I have ever seen leaves attached to a durian stem...are you sure they were durian?

                        1. re: akq

                          I don't know of too much else that's the size of a basketball, covered in spines, and labeled "durian".

                          I'm not in the US...so I see lots of things on a regular basis that I don't ever see in a US grocery.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Other than the "durian" label I can think of a few things that may look similar. Maybe they are a different species, but I thought durians grow on a long stem from the branch of the tree and there are no leaves on the stem or branch. I didn't know it was even possible to have leaves on the durians. Interesting.


                            1. re: akq

                              "Other than the "durian" label I can think of a few things that may look similar."

                              How about a small jackfruit?

                              Incidentally, there is one fairly infallible way to tell if the Durian is frozen (it won't help you with the durian you just bought, but it will tell you if future durians of that label are frozen or not) when you are done with the fruit, get some soil, stick a few of the pits in it and put it on your radiator, watering as neccary. If after a few weeks, the pits grow you know the durian was fresh and therefore have a good clue that other durians of that label, prucased at that store are likey also not frozen. As a bonus if you live somewhere warm, or have a VERY big greenhouse, in 10-15 years you'll have a tree of your own, and all the durians you can eat, with some left over!

                              1. re: jumpingmonk

                                LIterally less than a week away from the official start of Winter, I find it hard to believe anyone can find fresh durian anywhere in the world.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Well, probably not here. Durians are of course native to the tropics, which don't really have a winter as we would understand it, so whether or not they coud be obtained fresh there I don't know. Durians are supposed to fruit once to twice a year (though this can vary by cultivar and species), so whether or not this is one of those times I do not know. I was more speaking in hyopthetical terms. At this time of year even a durian that was fresh when it was sent out would likey be basically frozen by the time it got here, unless it was sent over in a heated plane (way too expensive to do with fruit, probably) During the summer it may be another matter.

                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                    In their native SE Asia, their season is June-August.


                                    From Wiki:

                                    The durian is a seasonal fruit, unlike some other non-seasonal tropical fruits such as the papaya, which are available throughout the year. In Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, the season for durians is typically from June to August, which coincides with that of the mangosteen.[4] Prices of durians are relatively high as compared with other fruits. For example, in Singapore, the strong demand for high quality cultivars such as the D24, Sultan, and Mao Shan Wang has resulted in typical retail prices of between S$8 to S$15 (US$5 to US$10) per kilogram of whole fruit.[11] With an average weight of about 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb), a durian fruit would therefore cost about S$12 to S$22 (US$8 to US$15).[11] The edible portion of the fruit, known as the aril and usually referred to as the "flesh" or "pulp", only accounts for about 15-30% of the mass of the entire fruit.[4] Many consumers in Singapore are nevertheless quite willing to spend up to around S$75 (US$50) in a single purchase of about half a dozen of the favoured fruit to be shared by family members.[11]



                                    I'm not calling out sunshine842, but it just baffles my mind how there could be fresh durian anywhere in the world RIGHT NOW.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      It's Dec 17 here in Singapore and the tree outside my window is dropping a fruit every couple of hours. They are very much in season now.

                                      1. re: martinsin

                                        It's a bit late already for the second durian season of this year. You have a durian tree outside your house?!

                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                          Two actually one about 3 stories high, the other one about 4 stories. They easily carry a combined 250+ fruit.

                                          The trees carry fruit only once a year, typically around this time - from late November to mid-January.

                                          Durians are being sold everywhere at the moment I believe the season would still have to be in full swing.

                                          1. re: martinsin

                                            It's the tail-end of the season already - I'm planning a family trip to Penang on Wed, but was told by the folks in Balik Pulau that we are already too late. Durians sold in Penang at the moment are 'leftover' from Kedah.

                                            As you would be aware, most durians we get in Singapore are from Johore & Pahang, where the peak season is sometime around Aug/Sep.

                                            Your durians seemed to be a hybrid from their shape & stem-size - did you inter-breed your trees with Thai Chanee or Karnyao? BTW. whereabouts in S'pore do you live? :-)

                    2. re: sunshine842

                      Impossible to answer. I love durian, as do many others...but clearly others hate it or don't care much either way. Will you love it? Who knows. If you just want to try some durian, you might try buying some frozen pieces - that way the smell is contained, and you don't have to deal with opening it or with eating an entire durian (they are big and it's rich...). Defrost them, or eat them semi-frozen (I loved semi-frozen durian as a child).

                      Good fresh durian is better than frozen, but good frozen durian is better than bad fresh. Not sure how far your fresh durian will travel, but I'd bet that the farther it travels, the less impressive the fresh will be next to a good frozen product.

                      I think it's weird how much angst the idea of whether and how to try durian seems to cause on CH.

                      1. re: akq

                        my biggest hesitation was that I was standing right next to them and smelled nothing...Picked one up (gingerly) and sniffed it. Nothing.

                        Given its reputation, the lack of any aroma at all added to my confusion.

                      2. re: sunshine842

                        To be honest, as a true durian lover (I will defend it to the ends of the earth! LOL), if you've never had room temperature "fresh, previously-frozen" durian before, go to the store where they are displayed at room temperature. Take one of the room temp durian and sniff it deeply. If you are not offended by the smell, then you probably won't be made sick by it when you open one.

                        Wait until the weather is nicer outside, buy one (defrosted, of course), and cut it open and eat it outside. If you can stand the smell outside of a defrosted "fresh" durian, then chances are you won't mind it TOO much inside your house.

                        I don't think the defrosted stuff is that bad inside the house, but then again, I'm very biased. On the other hand, I wouldn't exactly eat them inside the house when there are people visiting whom I don't know well/don't love or aren't familiar with durian/I am trying to impress in some way. :o) If it makes you feel any better, open windows/a good fan and a bit of subtle air freshener (Febreze brand, maybe) will clear things up in less than 12 hours.

                        Haven't had a truly fresh durian since I moved out of the tropic region at the age of 5, but I did see and smell them in Honolulu in a semi-outdoor market last year, and I personally did not find it bad at all. Again, I am a durian freak. Take that however you will.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          From what I understand durian freezes extremely well, so i don't think it's necessary to seek out the fresh stuff unless you're THAT into durian.

                          1. re: joonjoon

                            There is a WORLD of difference between frozen (or previously frozen) and fresh durian. The pungency of fresh durian is unmistakable.

                            In addition, fresh is sometimes double the price (and frozen durian is already an expensive fruit). People who love durian will have no problem paying for fresh, in-season fruit.

                            Mr Taster

                        2. Q: When do you crack open a Durian?

                          A: When no one else is around.

                          1. Thanks for your help, Chowhounds!

                            I cracked it open yesterday afternoon with some friends present. Some of them are still friends, some are not.

                            I'm quite sure it was previously frozen; the seeds inside were quite soft, and it was very easy to tear open by hand.

                            It was YUMMY.


                            1. Q: How do you know when a durian is bad?
                              A: It's never good.

                              1. How can you not like a garlicky ice creamy fruit? Durian ice cream, durian shakes, durian cakes, durian straight up, I love em all.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Evilbanana11

                                  I've tried durian cookies, duriansicles, and durian paste. The paste had no flavor or smell at all, the duriansicles were sweet and nice but not very durianey, and the cookes were awesome in my opinion but DH hated them. I need to find another durian-curious person or two to experiment with. I have a couple of coworkers who might go for it, but then we need to figure out a place to do the tasting because it's not going to be well-accepted at work.
                                  I read somewhere here that durian is now being grown in tropical Mexico- does anybody have any info on whether they've aqdvanced the trade any?

                                2. Durian FAIL!

                                  I and my husband are both ardent fans of Durian. My husband got this sudden craving and we bought one at a local supermarket. We had asked the lady at the supermarket and she said when its ready it cracks and the smell comes out. Dissapointed, because we couldnt eat it then we came home. And after that every day my husband before leaving to office he talks to the durian saying," please ripen fast, i cant stand it any longer." As soon as he gets back from office he runs to the Durian and checks on it. LOL.
                                  After 5 days of patient wait, to our delight we started to see Cracks! Wohooo, time for some fun, but as for the SMELL- None. We dint want to open it because what if the fruit is unripe, it will not be worth the wait. But at the same time, we saw moss like greenish stuff along the cracks.
                                  Clueless at to when to crack it open, we stumbled across your thread. :D
                                  And as you had mentioned that its ready when the cracks are visible, we finally decided to open it!
                                  TO our dismay, the fruit was unripe and some of the fruit were not even formed. I dont know where we went wrong. But one thing for sure,its 100% frozen and exported. Is it why there wasnt any smell? And whats with the rotting greenish moss like thing on the surface :( On the whole a great dissapointment ! :(

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: faz87

                                    Sounds like you got a beat fruit faz...even if you crack it open the same day the fruit should still be there! It should look something like this when you split it open: http://www.google.com/images?q=durian...

                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                      Yes it was like these. But one or two of them werent completely formed. And the rest were so unripe,that it wasnt creamy and soft,we had to throw it all. :( Now my heart achesto even think about it.:( Maybe we opened them out just too fast,because it had several cracks and the spiny skin started to rot with a greenish moss. And having a look at your picture you have shared below which looks like a total disaster,it was Nothing comparatively.LOL.I feel the more rotten it gets the more creamier it tastes. Whatever, we are thinking of buying another fruit and trying it all over again. And by the way we live in Dubai,UAE. :)

                                      1. re: faz87

                                        I think you just got a dud. It really shouldn't be hard, but sometimes, they don't ripen enough before they pick it that no amount of leaving it out will help.

                                  2. Is this ripe enough? http://www.miklas.org/images/sweet_du...

                                    Talk about perfect timing. My roommate had a durian wrapped in a plastic bag somewhere in the kitchen that he forgot about for a couple weeks. Today we cracked it open. The outside looked like a NIGHTMARE but the inside...man was it sweet and creamy. It was actually the best durian I've had. I'm generally not a fan of the skunky onioniness of durian but this one for some reason was really mild and smooth. It tasted mostly of creamy goodness with just a hint of the rotten onion funk. Actually I think my roommate was a little disappointed that the funkiness wasn't overwhelming enough...

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                      I am sorry but that picture makes me wonder how very very hungry and near death the first human had to be to decide that might be a food.

                                      I have no experience with them. I've seen them whole in Chinatown and at the Hong Kong Supermarket, come close, touch and even hazarded a sniff (caught no scent yea or nay) ut looking at the inside of one, er no.

                                      So now that makes it to my bucket list. Will it be like my first experience of Uni or my second experience?

                                      1. re: Quine

                                        Now that I think about it, if Uni was a fruit it might be Durian. I remember the first time I had Uni, it was horrifying in my mouth and I came really close to throwing up. Now Uni's one of my favorite things, ever. Not quite there with the Durian but this was the first one I had where I felt like going back for seconds...next time you see one, try it!

                                      2. re: joonjoon

                                        Hey joonjoon, please see my coconut crab post and please tell me there is no durian crabs! :-)

                                        1. re: joonjoon

                                          I must say that durian looks really gross to me. I'm also curious why you hacked it in two with that parang/machete; was it not "splittable" from the end (opposite the stem)?

                                          I used to eat fresh durians while growing up in SE Asia, going around with my folks from durian stand to durian stand sometimes... and none of them ever looked like that in my recollection even after leaving around for a good while, certainly not with that icky exterior and dirty red-colored fibrous casing. There are red-fleshed durians (see: http://mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog... for example) but yours do not look like it from the flesh color. We got duds sometimes - if technically ripe, it would be one with unsatisfactory taste/smell/texture; if unripe, they would never ripen properly further. The images from googling "durian" are representative of what durians should look like...

                                          I guess your roommate's durian was a frozen one? I don't have experience with those, but as other posters say here the frozen ones may well be underripe or even badly unripe when picked - maybe they really need to decompose/semi-rot before the flesh develops odor/flavor...

                                          1. re: huiray

                                            Hey Huiray,

                                            The durian was wrapped in a plastic bag and put away somewhere for weeks, and the outside of it basically started rotting. All that nastyness you see is literally fungus growing on it. I'm honestly not sure if this affected the inside of the durian at all, but it sure tasted good! And no, this isn't red durian, it's just the standard green kind you can get at asian markets here (NJ). I'm pretty sure they're all frozen products - I hear it's very hard to get them fresh.

                                            As for splitting the durian - I didn't know you could do that!

                                            1. re: joonjoon

                                              Even in Los Angeles it is difficult to find durian fresh (of course that's during the narrow time when they're in season), but it is possible. Fresh ones are also considerably more expensive than the already expensive frozen ones (at least double the price per lb.) And in case you were curious, there should never be a question as to whether durian are frozen or not because you can smell the fresh ones well before they're in visible range!

                                              And huiray, thanks for posting the link to the red durian photos! I spent well over half a year traveling through SE Asia (but never to Indonesia) and never saw that. Now I have yet another reason to go back :)

                                              Mr Taster

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                I've seen fresh durian once in Seattle I think - the price was prohibitively expensive though. I want to say it was close to 10$/lb.

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  Well, there are numerous species of "durian" (I am using durian here for mere conviencience, the other fruits may very well have thier own names) that are found and eaten throughout SE Asia, the big green one just happens to be the most common, and hence, the one most often exported. It's a bit like the "rambutan" situation, where there are in fact somthing on the order of two dozen species which produce fruit of some degree of edibility, but where you are unlikey to find any but strains of the commonest one in commerce.

                                          2. I just opened up my durian and it's not ripe. Only 1 segment is cut. Will it ripen if I leave it out on the counter or is it too late once it's been cut open?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: winlui

                                              Wow- sorry. What does it taste/smell like not quite ripe?

                                              1. re: winlui

                                                I've always understood that a ripe durian falls off the tree by itself. Once it's off the tree, the fruit continues to mature or ripen for a couple days more, but that's it.

                                                As for durians that were being exported to the West, I often wondered if they were being plucked off the trees - if that's so, the durians won't ever ripen. On the other hand, if fallen, ripe durians were frozen almost immediately after they were picked off the ground, you can crack them open the moment you buy them from the store or defrost them.

                                                In which case, winlui, your remaining durian will not ripen, unfortunately. Considering the high price we pay for durians, it's often a gamble on whether we're going to get a nice, ripe durian, or end up with a dud. That's why over here in Singapore and Malaysia, we often get the durian vendor to crack open all the durians on the spot, before we even pay for them. And we often buy 4, 5 or more durians at one go, as the flavor and texture of each durian can vary quite significantly.

                                                BTW, winlui, don't waste any of those unripened durian. Over here in Singapore/Malaysia/Thailand, we often cook unripened durian pulp in coconut creme, add some sugar, and serve it over steamed glutinous rice as a dessert:


                                              2. A couple of pics for you that might be of use (and interest) in helping you to see what durians look like when they are offered for sale, when they are ripe enough to be sold to the public for eating, usually for immediate or very-near-future eating. :-)
                                                p.s. those bundles of dark round fruits hanging on the smaller stall are mangosteens.