Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Josie's Durian Farm

This has been such a looong holiday! And that's one nice thing about Malaysia--we get so many public holidays.

We were home playing Scrabble for the first time in don't-know-how-many years (tricked Hub and Wey to play with me, citing pre-dementia and the need for brain exercise), when Y called and said we better rush to her friend's durian farm if we want some King Of Fruits. The direction was to go up the hill in Bukit Padang, then down and turn right at the junction, then go on the road for about 5 minutes until a small road on the left with a sign that says Jalan Lomudu, I think, and Dog Training Kennel. Just opposite to Country Shangri-la (I think), a new housing. Go on the small sealed road, past the dog training center on the left, and after less than 2 minutes the road will fork left and right. Take the left road that goes downhill and you will soon see a sign that says "Private Property" on the barbed gate. That's where Josie, the owner, will meet you if she's there. Her mobile no is 019 820 7941. On week days she's a busy lawyer so call her on weekends. Her durians are expected to last until end of Oct but don't count on my estimation. Hurry there before the fruits are gone. It's crazy that we have a durian farm nearly at our doorstep--the drive to Bukit Padang is 10-15 minutes, from there to the farm is 5-7 minutes. Thank you Josie, for fulfilling our dreams.

As lovers of durians, it was exciting to be in a durian farm. It's like Japanese ladies in LV stores, I guess. Josie had some problem getting workers to pick up the fruits from the jungle floor so she roped in a couple of her nephews. We were given two durians to sample. The first was wet and bland but the second was very good, with medium-thick pulpy flesh and good fragrance. Wheelbarrows of durians kept arriving from the jungle and we were free to pick. The big ones, nearly 3 kgs, cost RM8/US$2 while the smaller ones are RM20/US$5.40 for 3. I'd say the big ones are a better deal. In KK, we pay about RM10/US$2.70 to RM18/US$4.90 per kg and a medium-sized durian is about 1.5 kg. However, different types of durian trees are grown in the orchard and they have no idea which tree is D24 or tembaga susu (milk durian), so you may not get what you like. Also, the trees were planted in the 80s, before the new species of grafted trees were available.

We walked a short distance into the orchard, which was hilly (durian trees thrive on hilly terrain), and came out fully appreciative of the work behind growing and harvesting these heavenly fruits. The durian is truly not an easy, ordinary fruit to grow and harvest. It's so grand and wild, it can't be farmed and has to be grown in its natural habitat, the jungle.The trees grow very tall (over 10 metres) by the time they fruit so it's not feasible to pick the fruits, leaving no option but to wait for them to drop. This means the fruits will roll into ravines and thick undergrowth (snakes!) from where workers will have to search and bring to a collecting area. This also means that at any time you may get killed or at least get your head busted by a falling durian. We heard a few fruits fall around us while we were there. We decided that we will not 1) haggle with durian sellers now that we know how hard it is to harvest these fruits 2) start that dream durian orchard; just too much work. On top of all that hard work, durians are bitten by bugs, eaten by squirrels, susceptible to jungle fires, thieves and diseases. And some trees can fruit twice a year, but most only once a year.

When you think of it, this fruit truly deserves to be the King of Fruits. It is a fruit like no other in looks and taste and to those who describe it as eating ice-cream in a filthy toilet, I hope they continue thinking that and leave durians to people like me. Just last week, Lily, who's from China, was initiated by us into eating the sukong jungle durian. She hesitatingly bit off the pulpy orange flesh, widened her eyes at the taste and flavor, then closed her eyes and went "Mmmmm...so good....soooo gooddd..this is too goooddd." Prior to this, her favorite fruit was China peaches, a subtly-flavored fruit compared to the intensely perfumed durian.

Btw, somebody please tell Anthony Bourdain (who also went, "Mmm..amazing.." when he ate durians on one of his recent shows. He seemed genuine about it) that durians are opened by splicing the cavity lines apart with a small knife and not chopped by a parang into two crosswise like a watermelon. Yes, the new grafted durians are harder to open as the join lines between each cavity section are not as pronounced as in old-fashioned durians. I have been tempted to chop my durians too. And please, Anthony, eat durians with your hands, don't use a spoon. That's like eating an apple with a fork.

Have you noticed that tropical fruits are usually big, multiple fruits while temperate fruits are usually small individual fruits? I think God made them according to the cultures of the people living in each place. In Asia, eating is very communal and large fruits like the nangka, tarap, durian, pineapple, cempedak, papaya are shared unlike an apple or a strawberry which can only feed one each. Wait. In Asia, fruits like apples, oranges, pears etc are sliced and shared too. Fruit for thought.

If you get your durians from Josie, remember that you need to keep them for a day or two because they are fresh off the tree. That's the hard part. I have to wait a couple of days to eat those 18 durians.

Fruits like berries have to look pretty and colorful to attract consumers but the durian is made to look menacing and smell 'odd' (although if you are a durian lover, it is heavenly) for a reason. Duri means thorns and all those thorns are needed to ward off jungle animals (and humans) who know what lies within that shell. So for those who have never eaten durians, just imagine how much better durians taste compared to berries!

Look at that!

Workers search for durians in ravines such as this.



Our pick.

The scenery is great too.

Wey has an alternative for mace sprays, but they are kind of bulky and biodegradable:



Anonymous said...

The next time when I am there during fruiting season, I will be sure to tell my partner about this place. I bet she will pitch a tent, camp there and won't leave until she oozes durian!

Shan said...

Ohmigosh I LOVE durians!!!

Just a bit difficult to a) Bring them back to my pad and b) Find a durian kaki/partner-in-crime to dig in with. Can't finish it myself :(

Katie said...

I must admit, when I was in Phuket I had some opportunities to try Durian but I was too chicken! How could something that smells so bad taste good? Maybe one day I will gather the courage!

Sonia said...

Hi, I have been follow thru your blog but never leave you a message, but I will do it from now onwards. I like to read your blog, I gonna to try the bitterguard dish in your old post, because i'm bitterguard lover. And your HKG posts will be my guide when I go to HKG this Nov. About the durian farm, I wish one day I have this kind of chance to visit this interesting place. Thanks for sharing.

Mina said...

Durian farm! OMG, I must go there! Thanks Terri, I am a long time reader too and I always learn something from your posts!

Rei said...

What a harvest! Compared to Thai durians, the ones in Malaysia are the best!

Lily Anette said...

Wah! I will gladly trade my apple picking with your durians! :)

Christine said...

Hmmm.... your pictures and write up make me want to jump up and fly all the way to Malaysia to have the durians.

ChopSuey said...

Hi Terri - I was thinking about making your cottage pie recipe, but am nervous about the temperature to bake it. You specify 250C which is 480F. I usually roast chicken at 450F and bake cakes, etc. at 350F so I am wondering if you meant a lower temp?

gerrie said...

I especially love the second pic!! So "prosperous"...can't get over it!!

Vivien said...

Kindly change my link in your sidebar "Malaysian Foodies". I have moved from blogspot(ho-jiak.blogspot.com) to



Matthew Perry said...

Playing scrabble is so stimulating for the mind. Well, smokers say that even Cuban Cigars are quite stimulating. Not surprsing, given the fact that there are so many cigar lovers who stand by this. If you don't believe me, why not ask them?

Mumto4Angels said...

Hi Terri,

I was so tempted to ask you if this Josie's durian farm are open to outsiders to go and get a pick of her durians and pay for it, or was it only meant for her circle of friends? I just love durians...hehe

terri@adailyobsession said...

creatingobjectives: no need to camp there, it's just 20-30 minutes from town!tt's what i love about kk:)

shan: yes, durians are best eaten with a group of friends

katie: durians don't taste bad, blue cheese does! but if u do get the courage, don't eat thai durians. thai durians are grown for overseas market n made to smell and taste bland. go for the real stuff, go for malaysian durians.trust me :)

sonia: hey, great to hear frm u, do stay around n keep me company with ur comments. about hk, i always tell anyone going there to eat at tai wing wah. check out my hk posts, pls try n eat there!

mina: thnx for commenting, now don't forget to comment often!

rei: high 5, rei! thai durians are breed to be odorless so tt they don't stink the airplanes n supermarkets. but we know they just taste like meaty potatoes ya?

lilyann: yes, it's apple time in the us. my friend was complaining about her 300 apples on the ground n more to fall n i'm like, send some over! hope u get some durians when u come back

terri@adailyobsession said...

christine: u must come one day. sept is a good time. lots of local fruits n some rain tt cools the place down

chopsuey: if you cook the meat until it's done n bake it straightaway, 15 minutes at 250 C will do, but if the meat is not done or u r baking the pie later, do give it 30 minutes at a lower temp, say 200 C.

gerrie: yes, i was astounded too. looked like giant spiky grapes!

vivien: ok ok

matthew: spammer

mum4angels: yes, the farm's open to the public. call josie n arrange with her:)

a.l.u.s said...

OMG!! Durians!!!
Tapun...should go and get some..hehehe

The farm belongs to Josie Bosi isit????

Anonymous said...

Terri, you took beautiful photo.
Malaysia durian is tree ripe unlike Thai, which is induce,(ie they tied a piece of zinc sheet around the tree stem, so that the water can not reach the branches.Tree will abort it's fruits first thinking it is dying).Josie's farm was not spray with chemical. Most farm in Sabah do not spray pesticide as they are only small farm.Most fruit can only keep for 2 days only. We alway have a fest when eating durians.

terri@adailyobsession said...

alus: yes, it is so.she's a very nice & friendly person.

anon: thnk u fo r telling us. malaysian durians forever!

terri@adailyobsession said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Wang said...

Terri, to all your durain friends, I have these to comment.
1. Freshly dropped durian is best eaten between 12 - 24 hours after dropping. This is to let the pulp to mature further and the sugar content to migrate to the pulp. The period, of course, also depends on the temperature in which it is kept. I have not exactly come across a serious durain eater who has shown us the perfect solution to this mistery for the perfect taste, that is why for the durian from the same tree or variety, we get different satisfaction.
2. Imported Thai durians are pick from tree when they are marure enough but not fully ripe. The reason why they lack in fragrant and taste. However, such variety requires drier climate compares to our local varieties.
3. Folk tales have it that durian 'ada mata'(got eyes) and they will not drop on a person. I have yet to confirm this and I do not hope so.
4. You are right in saying that such trees are susceptible to all kinds of dieases from fungus, insects and what not. Constance care must be given throughout their lifes. Any negligence will result in slow die-back until such time that it will not recover.
5. I was told durian tree produced good timber, same as the tropical wood of Suraya which Japanses & European sorted.
Thanks for allowing me to comment. Cheerio!

terri@adailyobsession said...

william: wow, thank you for telling us tt. i bet you have a durian farm! about no 3) i think tt's a big myth. i wouldn't picnic under a durian tree...

dana said...

durian durian you are so tastety. after looking at all the yummie durian, it makes me wanna have it rite now!!!

Nadia. said...

oh no.. please never ever tell my mother about this place. our house will smell like durian for the rest of the year!


Faith said...

Hey there. I found you on a Google image search about durians.

What a wonderful post. I've never had a durian, but I've seen one on TV.

If I were to ever be able to travel, it would be really fun to just try all the different foods God created in all the beautiful places.


Anonymous said...

Hi Terri. Pahang durian trees are fruiting heavily now and my parents back in KL are having a good time now getting daily supply from our regular stall. I went to Donggongon Tamu today following your advice. The elusive dalit is yet to be found in Sept. Hope I'll have better luck in Oct.

At Pahang, the grafting technology is so advanced that one old durian kampung tree (with sturdier trunk vs clones) can be a host to many types of clones? You could have D24, Musang, Chuk Keuk, udang merah etc fruiting in a single host tree.

So, instead of chopping down the old durian kampung trees and waiting for 15 years for the new clone trees to fruit, you can have clones in just a few years' time! That's why the production is very high at Pahang and making good quality durian affordable to more people.

I wonder why this technique did not spread over to Sabah.

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