Jackfruits and Durians are both the prominent king of fruits in South/South East Asia and have similarities as in: thorny outer rinds, overpowering scents, strong & bold flavor… But which truly is the best in term of flavor and nutrition, how to differentiate them or how to pick the best of them?
When I say differentiate them, I literally mean it. A couple years back when I was working in a social media company branched in Vietnam, my boss called me from his trip that he’d be sending in his hand-pick souvenir: a case of fresh durians, which is my most favorite fruit of all time. He sounded so exciting, and to my surprise after opening, it’s actually was a whole pack of the small variety Jackfruit. We’re all had a good laugh about it, honestly!
See, it’s confusing if whether you haven’t eat them before or you have but never touch/see the fruits in as a whole in their rinds. Okay, let’s first start on their differences.
Appearance: Jackfruit & Durian at a glance
Both Jackfruits and Durian are ported originally in South/South East Asia with lots of varieties. Their colors are ranging from green to golden, brown, ….
From the outside look, both Jackfruit and Durian’s rinds are covered with thorny spikes (big and small) with Durian’s thorns are definitely larger, sharper and pointier.
Jackfruits’ tend to be more flat/shorter, “safer” – meaning you can easily carry it around by the rind with your bare hands. You won’t be able to that with durian though. There’s used to be an old jokes going about a husband kneeling on durian rind for punishment though. So you know how hard and strong the spikes of Durian are compared to Jackfruit.
Durian tend to be smaller (compare to Jackfruit), mature at 2 to 7 lbs on average with 6-12 inches in diameter.
Jackfruit, though has some specially small varieties, are known to be one of the largest fruits on the planet. It can reach anywhere near 120lbs with 35 inches lengthwise. As mention above Jackfruit varieties are naturally smaller to about Durian size, not to mention the popularity of young Jackfruit (immature/unripen ones) which is where most the confusion attributed from.
Dive-in to Jack: not just a fruit on the table
Jackfruit is more familiar than you think. Aside from wheat, gluten,… young Jackfruit’s pod, rag and all are often used in vegetarian’s meat substituted products. This is due to the fibrous texture and mildly sweet with resemblance that of meat.
In addition, Jack fruit is full of nutrition and can help in feeling full longer after consuming due to high content of Potassium, Calcium and Iron. 10 bulbs are all you need for a meal per say. Its seeds are also edible after boiling, steaming or similar, the seeds’ outer shell/skin can also be consumed in some varieties.
Aroma-wise, Jackfruit has a really sweet fruity scent, though not oppressive is far spread and lingering as well. Yes, note on the lingering, it’s like eating one ripe bulb and you can smell it 3 days later. Not that much, but you got the idea.
There are many varieties of Jackfruit, but it’s mainly into two types, one with larger fruits, mildly sweet yet firm and dry bulb. The other kind bears smaller fruits, probably the size of a football, with its flesh is soft, mushy, high fragrant and extremely sweet.
The firmer kind are usually what used in making Jackfruit chips, freeze-drying product while the latter’s immature fruit is as culinary product such as meat/bread replacement.
Young Jackfruit has a latex that keep oozing out of the core once being cut. This latex is kind of annoying to get rid off, which is deter most people to try Jackfruit for the first time. To enjoy fresh Jackfruit, it’s best to find a ripen one which is determined by its heavy flowing scent, darker outer rind and the stem freshness. The ripen Jackfruit always has little to none of those latex.
Wipe your hand against the rag of ripen Jackfruit is a way to get off latex, another is to rub your hands with some rice/grains, the powder from them do help latex to come off.
How to open Jackfruit? With the larger Jackfruit kind, just cut its in halves or quarters, then remove the core. Note to keep your knife clean during this process, wipe it against wet/damp kitchen towels. After the core is removed, just apply some pressure to help separate the pods from nearby rag. This would help it easier to extract Jackfruit meat with a pointy paring knife.
For the smaller, wet pod type of fruit, it’s actually simpler to open than you thin. Use a pointy paring knife to slightly make a groove around the fruit. Now use your hands to pull the rind off. All the pods should stuck onto the core, which can be pull off easily without any latex to worry about if the fruit is ripen enough.
Inside a Durian: the King of fruits
When talking about durian, the most popular yet also controversial about it is the scent or “stench”. It’s the kind of “totally love or truly despite” it.
Durian’s Scent vs. Stench ?!
Strong, bold, intensive, potent, etc are some of the words you may heard about it. Even in their shell/husk, covered, wrapped-up… the smell still get around, you can’t hide it, simply. In regard to the smell of durian, you can dive deeper here, just ignore their comments though, lots of war on good haters.
If one love durian, its smell to them is like heaven. Back in the old days, I know they used to dry the shell of durian (after emptying out the flesh) and leave them under their beds. I slept on one too, gosh, so many memories there.
With such divination, This is why we’re all divided about durian and why it is banned on most airplane, train or public transportation in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia…
So if you’re traveling to those countries, most places that sell durian will have seats to eat on-site. If you have to carry out, make sure that your hotel/lodging allow durian inside.
Durian Flavor, Texture, Taste & varieties
Okay, so let’s say you pass the scent test, are you pondering if its taste worth all the trouble? If you’re like me you’d have know, cause my other half’s literally on the “other half” side of Durian. It’s like war every time I try to sneak one in. Did I just say that I love Durian? Double that, it’s my guilty pleasure so I’ll only speak for this side of the good half.
Durian’s texture is a bit like custard, depend on the variety, it can be ranging from runny yogurt to harden cream cheese. In general, they are sweet with hint and mix of other flavors. Durian can gone bad too, and when it does, it becomes sour and mushy, which is what turning back many first-time eaters since it’s harder for them to detect a good quality Durian.
Anyhow, here’s a list of some popular/common varieties grouped by destination:
Thailand: Monthong, Chanee & Kanyao
There are more than 200 varieties being found and cultivated in Thailand, however the top three mentioned are massively developed for commercially purposes.
Among them, Monthong Durian would be the most popular in the States, any place here that sells Durian would sell Monthong period. It’s the top commercially export Durian variety in Thailand. This is due to its seeds’ size on the smaller scale, which allow its flesh to be easily extracted and frozen. Aside from that, it has a soft meaty texture with creamy rich and mildly sweet taste. Its smell is less intensive compared to other species, thus more acceptable to the mass.
Chanee Durian on the other hand is more pungent with a hint of bitter behind its sweet and buttery texture. It’s definitely a better choice for serious durian lover who can stand against anything and love it.
Kanyao Durian is the most highly priced of the three and look more round with a long stem (imagine volleyball on a string). Its taste is super sweet and creamy but mostly prized for its long term of freshness. This mean you can left it there for a long time without worrying about discoloring, taste or odor changing.
Vietnam: Ri 6, Chuong bo, Cai Mon & Kho qua
Popular in Vietnam, especially in the South with 200 + varieties, Durian here often can be found for better price comparing to neighboring countries. There’s less restriction as to where you can take/handle Durian on public transportation and they’re even allow on plane if you have their box wrapped by the airport facility.
Ri 6 Durian was named after the man who successfully mutated its type from an imported one. This type is prized for its thinner rind, thicker flesh, small seeds to negligible, mild scent, large size and high production. The flesh or meat is very high quality, as in bright gold color, medium sweet, creamy yet still being dry to the touch and hold shape pretty well. It’s easy to eat and crack open this kind without getting your hands messy or hurt like other varieties.
Chuong bo Durian literally means Cow’s den, named after the 1st place this variety was found. Very….hmm virtual right? It’s funny cause the name match its scent quite well: strong, protruding and lingering so definitely not for first-timers. This type has flesh that is lighter yellow and soft to mushy texture. Its taste is mildly bitter – sweet but actually a lot creamier than most Durian. The fruit itself is smaller than Ri6 at definitely price on medium budget.
Cai Mon Durian is actually a town within Ben Tre city where lots of this Durian type developed. The fruit itself is small with thin rind, thick golden flesh and small seeds. To compare, its scent is strong but less intimidate like Chuong bo Durian. Its flesh is less creamy but a little sweeter than Ri6.
Kho qua (bittermelon) Durian is another type that mostly known for its super cheap pricing. Used to be widely grown in the wild with thick husk, little flesh and larger seeds, this variety’s quality is definitely nothing comparable the the 3 above. However if budget is the only consideration then there’s no match, it’s the cheapest type, thus is widely known and exchange between the common.
Malaysia: D13, XO and Musang King
D13 is the recommendation for first-timer, as its odor level is low, flesh is sweet and less fibrous. Its seeds are quite large though, but the texture is firm and easy to hold.
On contrary, XO is more for the experienced who love the bitter taste and fermented feeling. Of course, this variety’s texture is very soft, runny, and definitely overpower for any newcomers.
Musang King is probably the most popular in Malaysia, due to its super buttery taste and texture.
Of course there are many more varieties of durian, if you like to find out more, visit yearofthedurian. They even have tours on Durian tasting.
Jackfruit vs Durian: what’s good and who should avoid them?
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, both Durian and Jackfruits have an impressive amount of vitamin and minerals: vitamin A, B6, C, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, and phosphorus. Other nutrients such as protein, phytonutrients and beneficial dietary fats are also found in Durian. And of course, aside from fiber, there are parts of water in them too.
On contrary to many belief, Durian does not affect blood pressure levels nor increases heart rate. In fact, due to its splendid amount of potassium, it can help decreasing chances of heart attacks and strokes.
The fiber and dietary fat found in both made them the best in aiding digestion, reduce constipation, heartburn and cramps. Many other benefits includes anti-aging, boost memory/cognitive, reduce radical/mascular degeneration and improve mood.
While these fruits are good, you shouldn’t consume them too much at once. Due to the high amount of protein, they might make you full or stomach bloated, hard to digest with too many quantity.
Like any fruits, they contain sugar, with is of course, off-limit to people with diabetes.
There’s also a fore-warning due to the possibility of intoxicate while coupling alcohol drinking and consuming durian together. It would be dangerous for your body to workout and unable to break down chemicals in your drinks.
Eating Jackfruits and Durian both have their good and bad, but as long as you can control the amount in-take at once, you’d be good.
Now, the only problem is, where to find good source of Jackfruit or Durian…