Black Thorn Durian Dethrones Billionaire’s Favored ‘King’ Durian

Editor’s Note: This post was made in partnership with the amazing people over at Weee! 

The controversial Southeast Asian “King of Fruits” is back and more expensive than ever.

Image via Benson Chou

Black Thorn takeover: Musang King durians date back to the ‘80s and held an unshakable position in Malaysia for ages, but the younger Black Thorn durians, having been on the market since 2010, are reportedly challenging the crown, according to Free Malaysia Today.

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  • Black Thorn durian’s mother tree emerged out of Penang, according to Lindsay Gasik, an American durian lover who tracked down 65 farms in Malaysia, in her book “The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Penang.”
  • Its peculiar name comes from a small black thorn at the bottom of the round fruit.
  • Its steep price, on the other hand, is from the skyrocketing demand over the past couple of years and its rarity.
  • As one durian stall manager said, “Just the other day we had a few Black Thorns arrive … and they sold out within an hour.”
Image via Benson Chou

Taste: To an unfamiliar fruit eater, Black Thorn durian may look like a yellow kidney slab encased in a pointy, lopsided football and smell like rotting death; but it’s an unequivocally bold fruit that demands attention and wholly embraces what it is.

  • “You will either be overcome, seduced by its powerful, declarative presence, or reject it outright. And run screaming,” former Guardian journalist Monica Tan said.
  • We received a Black Thorn durian and these are our thoughts:
    • It’s incredibly creamy and sweet. Within the first bite, the durian is like a thick custard and quickly coats the entire tongue. What looks like a thin layer of oil is the escaping juice, tasting like thin, syrupy honey. Compared to more common durians, this rendition is less fibrous and smooth. When enjoyed slowly, more concentrated nuggets of the durian release and it becomes savory — almost like a caramelized onion smothered in floral notes.
    • A downside is the large pits, where you might find yourself scraping off pieces in a bid to find more flavorful bits. If you’re not keen on the smell, place an air freshener, a scented candle, or open a window nearby, because it will stubbornly cling to the air to make sure all know that it was there.
Image via Benson Chou

Late contender: Bagi Kau, the mother tree’s owner, kept the mouth-watering fruit a secret and cropped up a waiting list of people eager to taste its coveted sweetness, according to Year of the Durian.

  • Eventually, he allowed his friend, Leow Cheok Keong to plant some seedlings in the mid-’80s, where the initial results were unremarkable.
  • Decades later in 2010, Leow and another durian farmer, Heng Mee Oo (Ah Heng), realized that the poignant fruit was worth investing in.
  • In the 2011 and 2012 Penang State Durian Competition, Leow took home first prize for his Black Thorn durians, beating past favored varieties.
  • In 2013, the Malaysian Agricultural and Research Development Institute (MARDI) certified the variation into its durian registration as D200 and listed Leow’s farm as the source.
  • Heng had struggled in what he called “15 years of failure” with cultivating a superior crop of durian, and it was only until he found Black Thorn that he realized it was exactly what he was searching for.
  • Heng advised against growing these durians with greed — the higher the yield count in a harvest, the lesser the quality in the meat inside.
  • To thoroughly enjoy it, Heng said to take your time as it melts in your mouth: “You have to eat it very slowly, not like ordinary durian…eat slowly and enjoy the taste.”
An annual durian festival (“Kenduren Wonosalam”) in Wonosalam Field, Jombang Regency, East Java, Indonesia. Farmers from nine villages in Wonosalam express gratitude for their bountiful harvests. Photo via Wikimedia Commons by Wahyu Wening (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Controversial King: Durians have long held the throne of being the most polarizing fruit for years in the Asian community. Whether it’s an extreme passion for the creamy and pungent fruit or a deep hatred for it, someone always has something to say, as compiled by Mental Floss.

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  • Stanley Ho, Macau’s late “King of Gambling,” would send a private jet to Singapore to secure a stash of Musang King durians as they were prohibited from commercial flights for their smell, Forbes reported.
  • The fruit is beloved in Southeast Asian countries where there were durian festivals held in its honor in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and exports to the U.S., Australia, and the rest of Asia.
  • On the other side of the spectrum, durian’s notoriety has also grounded planes and hospitalized people.
  • Yet, the fruit also holds many health benefits such as fighting cancer, helping to alleviate depression and improve sleep quality, aiding in digestion, and having anti-aging properties, according to a report from the UTM Institute of Bioproduct Development.
  • In 2019, a woman made Malaysian headlines for causing a scene online when she was charged 937 Malaysian Ringgit ($233) for two Black Thorn and one Musang King durians at a roadside stall. The domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry, however, declared that this pricing was “reasonable.”

Craving some durian or want to try this legendary fruit for yourself? Order your very own Musang King or Black Thorn durian from our brand partner Weee! Have a premium quality durian delivered right to your door. Offer: $10 off first order and free delivery on orders $35+.

This post was created by Weee! with NextShark.

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