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Dec 8, 2010 05:08 PM

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 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 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 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.