First of all, let me just start by declaring that, yes, I'm a durian seller, and yes, I'm about to do an expose of the malpractices and the inner workings of the durian trade.
Well, you may think, "Chey, you also sell durian wat... Why should we trust what you say here?"
Because once upon a time, I was a consumer just like you. And I know the feeling of spending hundreds of dollars only to end up with sub par durians.
If you even bother to click into this article, then I'm assuming you take your durians seriously. Here in this article I will list 5 common types of cheating technique that dishonest durian sellers will deploy to squeeze that extra buck from you.
1. Passing off Grade B Mao Shan Wang as Grade A
At the commodity level, Mao Shan Wang and D24s are graded by shape and size. Grade A MSW are round in shape, and usually weigh at least 1.6kg.
Grade B MSW are usually oblong or irregularly shaped or may have one compartment being attacked by worms. As such, Grade B MSW usually does not contain as much flesh as compared to Grade A. (But that does not mean Grade B flesh is of poorer quality)
Dishonest sellers will usually mix in a percentage of Grade B MSW together with the Grade A MSW to squeeze out some extra profits.
Usually this will happen when you make a bulk purchase because it is easy to mask and hide a few pieces of Grade B MSW amongst a basket of durians.
2. Passing off other cultivars as Mao Shan Wang
I have been noticing for a while now. Every time when the Malaysian durian season is over, some unscrupulous sellers will import in Thai durian and pass it off as MSW. In the picture above, it is Chanee, a durian cultivar from Thailand.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Thai durians but to prey on the unknowing customers, now that's just evil la.
Once, my wife walked pass a durian shop and saw a signboard stating 猫王 $16 per kg. It was during the off-season. So she asked if it is Malaysia MSW, the seller was at least decent enough to point out that this is a slightly different breed than MSW, but close, claiming that the breed was from Kelantan and it is more sweet than bitter. Well, those durians were from Thailand... Period...
3. Cheating by weight
Using cement bag
Cheating the total weight of durians is also a common practice. Buyers should also check if the weight of the basket has been taken out.
Using cement bags - Do you know these cement bags weigh about 300 to 400 grams each? Bet you didn't know right?! Some sellers deliberately place the durians in the bag and weigh them together, now assuming a market price of $18 for MSW, then you are easily going to pay an extra $7.20 just for those cement bags.
So always demand the durians to be weighed separately before packing them into these cement bags.
4. Mixing in other cultivars in durian boxes
Pre-packed durians in supermarkets
To the uninitiated, all these durians basically do look the same. Even seasoned durian sellers may not be able to recognize the breed just by looking at its flesh. We usually can only recognize durians with the husk on.
Some vendors will deliberately add in cheaper Thai cultivars in the mix and pass it off as Malaysian durians.
The next time if you find that some of these seeds taste weird and if you suspect something is wrong, well it probably is.
Guys, this is not a myth, it is actually happening! I can say that only because I was told in my face by a worker working from inside for one of these vendors... (I'm risking my life to reveal this secret.... So if I'm not around tmr, please tell my family I love them... And I love you guys too...)
5. Slide of Hand
This cheating technique is a little less common. It requires the durian chopper to have a pair of quick hands.
How it works?
The chopper basically dehusk really fast and deliberately leaving a side unopened and throwing away into a basket. He will then retrieve it from the basket and either use it as a replacement for other customers or packing them into a styrofoam for sale.
Always request the chopper to dehusk fully in front of you and make sure every side is empty before dumping away the empty husk. Some sellers when get caught, will convince you that there is no flesh in the compartment, but take no chances, just request them to split open anyway. It's your money, don't be shy about it.
So here you go, the 5 common methods of cheating techniques to look out for when purchasing your beloved durians.
If you have encountered some other bizarre cheating method, please feel free to share with us to build more awareness in this otherwise little understood industry.