What are durians? When is the best time and how much should I budget for durians?
You may have heard of durians, but if you are not from Southeast Asia, you may not be too familiar with durians.
So what exactly are durians?
The name Durian, comes from the word, duri, which means "thorns" in the Malay language.
There are over 500 types of durian species all around the world.
Durians are spiky fruits that grow on Durian trees.
Durian is a highly prized fruit in Singapore. To put in perspective: to us, durian means to Singapore what cheese meas to France, and truffle means to Italy and what cavier means to Iran.
Scientifically, the durian species that are common sold in the markets are known as durio zibethinus.
To Southeast Asians, durians are commonly known as the King of Fruits! And that's because the smell and flavour easily overpower every other fruit there is on Earth!
Ask anyone what they know about durian, and they will almost certainly talk about its smell.
Durian is the most polarising fruit in the world. Durian lovers adore this fruit so much, they will be willing to shell out good for the best cultivars. But haters will find this fruit totally repulsive to a point that some will find it nauseating just by sniffing.
Durians are notorious for its odour. Comprising of hundreds of volatile sulphurous compounds, the durian smell will linger on in air conditioned environment for days - don't believe? Try putting some in your fridge.
Because of this, durians are banned in all public transport and in hotels.
When is the best time to get good Durians in Singapore?
In Singapore, there's usually 2 durian seasons in a year.
The main season usually begins sometime in May or June and will last about 2 months till August. The best durian harvest usually falls in this season. This is because June /July is the hottest months in this tropical region, and durian quality is typically the best if the harvest months coincides with a hot weather.
The second season is usually a smaller season which begins in late November and may last till January. The harvest tends to be smaller and of slightly lower quality as compared to the mid year season.
So if you're planning to visit Singapore for your vacation, durians are a MUST-TRY!
Time your holidays around June - July to coincide with the durian season.
During the durian season, you'll see many stalls around the heartland areas popping up - But beware of cheats! Be sure to do some basic research before you go on a durian hunt!
So how much should I budget if I like to try durian for the first time?
Well, that will really depend on the season. Prices of durians can be very volatile.
The price of the top grade durian (Mao Shan Wang aka Musang King), can range anywhere from $14 - $26 per kg depending on the harvest level.
The price on the left shows you an average price during pre-peak season.
As a rough guide, for 2 person, you may like to budget about $50 ($25 per person), if you like to try out the top grade durian.
But if it is your first try and you are really unsure, then my suggestion will be to get the cheapest durian to try out first. No point shelling out $50 and vomit after the first bite.
The cheapest durian will set you back at most $20 (so that's $10 per person, which is rather reasonable). So if durian really isn't your thing, then you can just spit out, and flee. No hard feelings, you don't burn a big hole in your pocket, nobody get hurt...