Bitter or Sweet? Guide To Identifying Your Favourite Durian Types

The king of fruits’ season is here again. Every year, between June and August, is the best time to savour durians. However this year, after a prolonged dry spell, the peak season is delayed. Durian season this year could be later and longer as flowers are still blooming.

Nonetheless, you’ll still need to know how to choose the best durians before buying them. Believe it or not, there are more than 400 types of durians! Whether you like it sweet or bitter, we’ve got it all covered. Read on for our guide to identifying the best durian types.

1. Mao Shan Wang

Mao Shan Wang durian
Image credit: The Straits Times

There’s no doubt that all durian lovers love the Mao Shan Wang. Here’re some tips when choosing a Mao Shan Wang (also known as Cat Mountain King). Look for these distinct features altogether in one durian.

MSW base of stems johorkaki
Thorns converged at the base of the stem. Image credit: johorkaki
MSW thorns
Pointed thorns. Image credit: johorkaki
MSW bottom
Unique 5 arms “starfish” shaped bottom. Image credit: Flickr

Mao Shan Wang
Flesh colour:
 Bright royal yellow in colour
Flavour: Bittersweet, creamy, sticky. In the same durian, flesh could be bitter and/or sweet.
Thorns:
 V-shaped/pointed thorns
Crown: Thorns tend to converge at the base of the stem, forming a bald brownish ring around the stem
Shape: Oval 
Base:
 Brownish five-pointed star. A little bald.

2. Musang King

Musang King
Image credit: yearofthedurian

Musang King is currently regarded as the best durian in Malaysia. It’s the most sought after, desired and expensive of all durian varieties. It sells for more than twice the price of an above-average durian. To avoid being conned by unscrupulous durian vendors trying to sell you an average durian as the Musang King, here are some features you must not miss.

durian types

tips-to-pick-a-pure-breed-musang-king-durian-crown
Crown: Smooth with a gap between stem and thorns. Credit: yearofthedurian

Musang King
Shell: Yellow-brown to camo-green to tinged with purple
Flavour: Sweet, rich, and creamy, like a toasted marshmallow
Thorns:
Rather inconsistent. Either very far apart or close together, could be as thin as a needle, or rather pyramidical.
Crown: Smooth and brownish gap between the stem and thorns.
Shape: Bean-like, like a kidney or egg
Stem: Longer than other durian types 
Base:
 Brownish five-pointed star. Balder, broader and more pronounced than the Mao Shan Wang.

3. Golden Phoenix 

Golden Phoenix durian
Image credit: The Straits Times

The Golden Phoenix, also know as Jin Feng, is a pale-coloured durian type with very soft and wet flesh. More affordable than Mao Shan Wang, it is small in size and is very fleshy with tiny seeds and thin husk. The taste of the Golden Phoenix is sweet, bitter, creamy and slightly less pungent than the Mao Shan Wang. It’s considered a ‘value for money’ durian type as you get a good amount of tasty flesh at an affordable price.

Golden-Phoenix-Durian-Outer-fruit-view-bottom
Converging thorns at the bottom of the durian. Image credits: blog.alansoon

Golden Phoenix
Shell:
 Light green to greyish brown
Flavour: Bittersweet with a more watery texture
Thorns: Skinny and sharp
Shape:  Roundish and oval
Base: 
Tiny almost non-existent base formed by thorns converging towards the base, forming a tip.

4. XO

XO durian
Image credit: The Straits Times

XO-base2

If you like your durian strong and bitter, the XO is not to be missed. The XO durian is bitter with its famed alcohol taste – cultivated through an extended period of fermentation inside its shell. Its fruit is usually smaller and the husk is identified by its thin and brownish-green colour. Another point to look out for is its watery thick flesh.

XO
Shell:
Thin and brownish green in colour
Flesh colour: Very pale yellow
Flavour: Watery thick flesh, bitter with alcohol aftertaste
Shape:  Roundish, oval, or even starfruit-shaped
Base: 
Centre depression with thorns pointing inwards

5. D24

OX Durian

D24 is one of the more popular durian varieties. Its flesh tends to be pale yellow and tastes creamy and bitter. As D24 is a popular durian type that is widely cultivated, there are several grades and even sub-categories.

D24
Crown showing thorns growing all over. Image credit: sixthseal

D24
Shells:
 Homogeneous green/ greenish-yellow
Thorns:
 Tend to cluster together
Flavour: Neither overly sweet nor bitter, great starter durian for newbies
Flesh: Thick and creamy 
Stem: 
Relatively short stem with small brown ring around it

6. Red Prawn

ang hei
Image credit: The Straits Times

If you like sweet durian, Red Prawn (also known as Ang Hei or Udang Merah in Malay) is the right one for you. Its texture is beautifully creamy but often a bit too watery. This durian has a fruity sweet taste. Some varieties have tiny seeds, others have large ones. The red prawn durian shells are thick and hard to open. Though the durian looks large, there may not be a lot of fruit, as the core of the durian is wide.

red prawn
Dusky brown shell, short and widely spaced thorns. Image credit: yearofthendurian

Red Prawn
Shell:
Dusky Brown
Shape: Oval with a wider middle
Flavour: Sticky with sweet aftertaste
Thorns: 
Short and very widely spaced

7. Black Thorn

black thorn
Image credit: yearofthedurian

Black Thorn durians are the most prized durians of all – more expensive than Musang King. The flesh of the Black Thorn is nearly fiberless and has a bright orange colour.

how-to-tell-black-thorn-durian

Black Thorn
Shell:
 Grey-green
Shape:
 Round and small
Bottom: 
Bald bottom with a dark brown spot
Stem: 
Stubby, short stem
Flavour: Sweet with a bitter after taste
Flesh: Rich, creamy, fiberless, and sticky. Dark orange with reddish hue.

How can we resist these durians? After researching and going through this list, we’re having serious hunger pangs and cravings for durian! It’s time to hunt down the king of fruits and satisfy those cravings!

(Header image by Flickr, edited by writer)

Also, read Durian Lovers! The Best 5 Spots To Enjoy Your Favourite Fruit

 
 
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