The Portuguese introduced Durio ziebethuinus to Ceylon in the 16th century. Many new types were also introduced later. In late 1800, Southeast Asian countries that were first familiarized with the plant started to grow it commercially in 20th century. Edmund James Banfield, a naturalist of Australian origin, got a durian seed in 2000 from one of his Singaporean friends and planted it in Queensland first introducing durian to Australians.
Habitats of Durian Fruit
Durian is a native plant of Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia but some highlight that it is native to Philippines as well. Thailand is one of the main countries that export durian to the international market. Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, West Indies, India, Hawaii, Polynesian Islands, Madagascar, China, Singapore, Northern Australia, and Malaysia as well as some parts of America are also well known as habitats for the durian tree.
Appearance of Durian
Nick named ‘King of Fruits’; durian is highly valued in Southeast Asian countries. Durian has a very distinguished smell and its skin is thorny and hard. The dimension of a durian fruit is about 30 – 15 cm and its weight is about three Kgs. Durian flowers bloom in a cluster and there are about three to thirty identical clusters borne on its trunk and large branches. Every flower has sepals and about five to six petals. Durian is round although the oblong shape is not irregular. The shells are green or brown while its flesh is a luminous yellowish or reddish color.
The odor of the edible parts of durian is so penetrating; it spreads a long distance even without removing the shell. Some like the aroma of durian very much while some others highly despise its scent. Durian trees yield two harvests per year, but it may vary in keeping with the various climates, cultivars and places. Durian trees bear fruit after 4 -5 years and they take about three months to ripe. From a great variety of durian, only the Durio ziebethinus variety is marketed internationally.
Benefits of Durian Fruit and Nutritional Value
Durian is rich in sugar. It is also rich in vitamin C, tryptophan, potassium, carbohydrates, fats as well as proteins. Health professionals frequently recommend it as an effective source for taking in raw fats. However, some point out that as the durian contains a high amount of fatty acids it is advised to limit its consumption. Malaysians use its leaves as well as roots to produce a decoction for fever. A research from University of Tsukuba reveals that durian fruit has significant powers to detoxify the body. Javanese people think that durian is a good aphrodisiac.
How to Eat Durian Fruit
The durian fruit is quite large. Its size is not a great problem as ripe ones fall in time. They may slightly crack when falling. By inserting a knife or a fair sized cleaver to such a crack, it can be opened very easily. Within, are about five parts and in each one of these, several seeds can be seen covered with an aril identical to custard. When durian is eaten immediately on falling, the pungent smell is bearable and the taste is also favorable. Durian fruit can be mixed with many flavors to increase its taste. Its seed can also be eaten after it’s cooked.
The Durian is a plant which is in the same family as the hibiscus, okra, and cotton tree family. This fruit is widely known and used in Southeast Asia. The Asians consider this to be the King of Fruits because of its distinctive size, odour, and husk. You may be surprised to learn that the Durian was named to mean thorny fruit. There are actually thirty species of the Durio in Southeast Asia although only nine of these species are edible. The Durian is a nutty sweet fruit and the outer portion of the fruit is a thorny husk with a meaty inside.
The Durian is rich with history and legends. Part of the history of this fruit includes a quote from Alfred Russell Wallace, a British naturalist in 1856. He said the fruit was custard in colour with an almond flavour. If you go back even further you will find that during prehistoric times in Southeast Asia this fruit to be consumed by the native people. From the prehistoric age references in the 15th century on through to the 1700’s it is possible to tell that there has been interest in this particular fruit. A German botanist provided some of the most accurate descriptions of the fruit and its tastes. He also created the taxonomy of the genius Durio for later generations.
We now see this fruit mostly in Southeast Asia or in botanical gardens where the genus has been introduced for education purposes. In fact the first seedlings to arrive in England came in 1884 to the Botanic Gardens.
Some common uses of the Durian fruit include milkshakes, Yule Logs, cappuccinos, rice, and other Asian dishes. It will depend upon the type of Durio that is used for the different items listed. Some are not available to eat, but others can be used to make dishes like Tempoyak.
Some nutritional and medical information demonstrates that the fruit contains a high amount of sugar, vitamin C, potassium, and tryptophan. It is considered a great rave food. In Malaysia the leaves and roots have been used as antipyretic and the leaf juice is often applied to the head of a fever patient to reduce the fever and help the patient return to normal health again. Other uses and impressions come from Chinese medicine. The Durian fruit is considered to have warming properties and cause sweating. Those who have high blood pressure or are pregnant are not supposed to have the Durian fruit as it is supposed to be hazardous to their health due to these warming effects. Another belief is that Durian is harmful when you eat it with coffee or alcoholic beverages. In other words the Chinese legend says that you should never have those things combined. An 18th century theory is that indigestion and bad breath will result from eating this type of fruit. Another legend tells you not to eat the Durian fruit when consuming brandy as it can be poisonous to your health.
The Japanese believe that the Durian fruit is actually an aphrodisiac. They have even gone so far as to create rules on when Durian may be consumed and when it may not.
There are many different theories on what may or may not occur as a result of eating the fruit. Of the studies conducted in the past, and those to dissuade the thoughts of today, the studies have been found to be inconclusive.
Recommendations for collecting the fruit are considered to have the person wear a hard hat. This is because the actual casing of the fruit is very hard and can cause a head injury if it falls from the tree at a great height. It is much like a coconut falling from a tree where they can actually dent a car.
Durian fruit is still not widely known in the western hemisphere, especially America. While it is a popular item of Southeast Asia and has made its way to Europe we have yet to see Durian fruit in the local markets. Perhaps this is because the fruit has many legends behind it or maybe it is just that there is no demand for it. Either way it is an interesting fruit when you consider its history and legends. After all the fruit has been known to be consumed in the prehistoric era and even today has made a showing in the dishes of Southeast Asia. The legends may be unsubstantiated, but we know that there are rich vitamins and other properties contained in the fruit to make it worthy of a diet, even if it is high in carbohydrates.