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Durian Wine: Next Big Thing?

Durian Wine: Next Big Thing?


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The sweet, smelly fruit is getting a boozy makeover

Let's just say that durian isn't the most popular fruit, thanks to its pungent smell, described by the poetic Anthony Bourdain as the smell "if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."

So while some people might hate it, others love it, enough to try and turn it into wine.

Reuters reports that scientists in Singapore have figured out how to turn the smelly, sweet fruit into wine, scooping out the pulp to ferment it into a clear white wine.

The process? They scoop out the pulpy flesh, blend it into a liquid, and then add water to ferment the liquid. The resulting wine is sweet with 6 percent alcohol, relatively low for a wine.

Researchers hope that the wine will appeal to both durian lovers and haters, since, "after the fermentation, the pungent smell, the repulsive smell of durian is reduced," one of the scientists say. Plus, who wouldn't be curious to try a wine made from a fruit that's been banned on planes? Watch the report below.


Fresh Durian- at last.

Anyone with a taste for the truly exotic should head down to their nearest Asian fruiterer. Hot on the heel of my article last week about tropical fruit, the very first [ever] shipment of whole fresh durian has arrived from Thailand. They’re selling for a rather steep $15.95 per kilo [each fruit weighs at least 2 kilos]. I couldn’t resist and I’m now facing the deliciously daunting task of devouring an entire durian on my own [my best beloved won’t even have them in the same room as her]. Even if you can’t bring yourself to buy one its’ worth the trip just to breathe in that deliciously fetid aroma. If you’re in Auckland central head over to the fruit shop under the Rialto car park in Newmarket. Go on, I dare you…

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Pandemic economy inspires cousins to start ‘side hustle’ delivering fresh durian to O.C. and beyond

In 2018, after graduating from Cal State Long Beach, Chris Meechukant and his older brother Andy took over Bangkok Taste restaurant in Santa Ana.

Their parents Tammy and Paul, first-generation Thai immigrants, started Bangkok Taste in 2001, and in the last couple years, the sons had worked hard to grow the family restaurant. But when the pandemic hit, they had to furlough most of their workers and limit their services to takeout.

Up in San Francisco, their cousin Tou Meechukant was a bartender, dreaming of creating his own signature products from Thailand to use while mixing cocktails. For the last three years, he had been developing unique liquor-strength syrups, including a lotus syrup, and in January, he debuted them at a food show.

It was popular enough that he had gotten preorders from six states and was about to deliver. But the shipment came in mid-March, just as bars shut down.

“It was bad timing,” said Tou. “So I had to pivot. I had all these connections with suppliers in Thailand. And with nightclubs and restaurants closed, I had to think about what I could provide to customers through direct sales. What can’t people get during the pandemic, because they can’t go out?”

Tou asked Chris to help him with his new import business, Atipat Trading Co. At first, Tou started selling Thai boat noodle meal kits, but soon he began to believe there was an untapped demand for durian in the U.S.

In 2019, Thailand became the sixth largest exporter of fruits, according to the National New Bureau of Thailand. Though durians are thought to originate in Borneo and Sumatra, Thailand recently overtook Malaysia as the biggest exporter of durian, with an estimated $817 million USD in value sold mostly to China and countries in Southeast Asia.

Chris was initially skeptical. He remembered going back to Thailand with his parents when he was a kid and trying durian for the first time at a farm.

“It was mushy, and it smelled really weird,” he said of the pulpy yellow pods inside the spiky outer shell. “But once you get past the smell and you eat it, it tastes sweet and I liked it.”

Chris compared durian to stinky tofu, the fermented Taiwanese night market snack that also inspires a passionate following.

He laughed as he referred to viral videos showing cats reacting to durian’s strong, unmistakable odor that scientists recently attributed to the biosynthesis of volatile sulfur compounds.

Hey guys, I am taking orders for delicious durian fruits imported straight from Thailand. The smell is mild compared.

Posted by Chris Meechukant on Thursday, July 9, 2020

But in July, Chris posted on the Asian Hustle Network Facebook group, explaining that he had started “a small side hustle” delivering fresh durian to Orange County.

“The smell is mild compared to the ones you’d find in the market,” he wrote. “Why is this? Because it isn’t overly ripe and the fruits have never been frozen, therefore SUPER FRESH!”

He was immediately flooded with comments and orders.

“I didn’t believe it until I saw it,” he said of the demand.

Bonnie Sintuvat Lee of Buena Park ordered a box for her mother right away.

“Everyone from Thailand from my mom’s generation is completely obsessed with durian,” she said, explaining that her immigrant mother Mimi Sintuvat loves the type of durian grown in Thailand called monthong, which translates to “golden pillow.”

“But she’s from a generation where she doesn’t want to spend money, right? So she settles for the cheaper ones,” Bonnie said. “It may not be as good as she remembers, but she’ll settle for it.”

Durian is known for being more expensive than other fruits. Those who love it consider it a delicacy. Tou’s brand, called Uncle Tou’s, costs $35 for a box of two to three pods, depending on the net weight.

But in the U.S., if you buy durian from an Asian supermarket, often it’s frozen or thawed, so the texture is different, explain the cousins. And for an untrained eye, it can be gamble to pick a good one.

The pandemic had prevented the Sintuvat family from taking a trip back to Thailand this summer, so Bonnie wanted to bring Thailand to her mom. Mimi is the type that’s constantly taking care of — and worrying about — her kids and grandkids, Bonnie said.

“For me as her daughter, I just want to give her the best thing,” she said. “ Thirty-five dollars might be a lot to pay for a fruit, but it’s not a lot to pay for a gift for my mother to make her happy.”

Mimi likes the ones that are more yellow, ripe and sweet, said Bonnie.

Chris and Tou said many of their customers prefer the ones that are in the fleeting stage of durian where it’s not quite young but not quite ripe.

“That’s when the skin is a little dry and crispy, so you have a little crack and pop when you bite into it,” Chris said.

“It’s hard to come by, but that’s what we try to get for our customers,” Tou said.

It’s taken a lot of trial and error to map out the perfect timing to get their customers the freshest batches of fruit.

The durians are cracked at the farms, boxed up and shipped to San Francisco International Airport within 48 hours, after heavy negotiation with the farmers to only choose the best quality fruits that are available at the particular time in the season.

The Meechukants have learned that custom border patrol agricultural specialists only inspect incoming items a couple times a day, so if it comes in the late afternoon, it’s possible the package will sit there for too long for the gel ice packs to keep the fruit fresh.

Because of this, Tou and Chris are constantly at the airport in the early hours of morning, racing with the clock. When a shipment for Orange County comes in to San Francisco International Airport, Tou picks it up, replaces the old gel ice packs with new ones and immediately drives it over to the next airline so Chris can pick the shipment up from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana within a few hours.

And then Chris delivers them himself to those who have preordered in Orange County.

Since he started about a month ago, Chris has sold about 50 boxes a week, most often to customers who live in Little Saigon.

Tou also offers delivery across the nation, but he recommends customers pick up the cargo directly at the airport so they can control the timing.

So far, they’ve specialized in monthongs: from Monthong Chanthaburi (grown in east Thailand), Monthong Phu Kao Fai (grown in volcanic soil in Sri Saket in the northeast), Monthong Khiriwong (from the south) and Monthong Betong (from near the border of Thailand and Malaysia).

The connoisseurs take their durian really seriously, Tou said. They will pay in order to get the best quality, quickly, especially when they are craving it.

What Chris is often delivering is childhood memories, Bonnie said.

The Uncle Tou’s plastic boxes feature a cartoon rendition of Tou wearing his signature fedora and a durian on top of the hat.

“It’s so funny, I just ordered my mom another box of two,” she said. “She finished the first one in seconds. And she resisted and only ate about one third of the second piece so she could save the rest for the next day. But I know in the morning, when she wakes up, that’ll be the first thing she eats.”

Chris and Tou admit they aren’t as passionate about durian as their customers.

Calling himself a “bad Thai,” Tou said that the first time he transported 27 boxes of durian in his car, he had to pull over and roll down the window because he felt nauseated from the smell.

But they all understand its significance in their culture.

“The gateway to liking durian is eating durian chips,” Bonnie said. “My mom normally comes back from Thailand with durian chips. They’re 10 times better than kettle chips, they’re made with durian and taste like potato chips but more buttery.”

Similarly, while a large bag of potato chips might usually go for a few dollars, an equivalent-sized bag of durian chips could also cost the equivalent of $35.

“The difference between durian and durian chips is that there’s no smell,” she said. “So you just taste the flavor. We’ll go over to my mom’s house and slowly eat it. Try not to eat all of it at once.”

So Bonnie appreciates the Meechukants’ side hustle.

“This is a new generation that’s trying to think of different ways to bring money in [during COVID],” she said. “And they decided to sell durian because it makes people like my mom happy.”


Have You Tried Any of These Trendy Asian Snacks?

If you’re anything like us, you’re always on the hunt for the next greatest snack. And while Goldfish, pretzels, and popcorn are obviously delicious options, they’re beginning to lose their mid-afternoon luster. Next to the U.S., one area of the globe that absolutely loves to nosh…at all hours…any time of day…is Asia. Southeast Asia, in particular, has a drool-worthy array of sweets, treats, and bites to satisfy any unexpected hunger pang.

We sat down with the team at SiriusXM’s Wake Up with Taylor to sample a few authentic flavors that are slowly but surely making their way to the states.

Here’s a breakdown of what we tried, as well as our general thoughts. One thing’s for certain: “king of fruits” and notoriously stinky durian is an acquired taste.

Roasted seaweed snacks have become an American staple (thanks to an obsession with sushi), but you’ll be hard-pressed to find everyday indulgences like chips or crackers infused or flavored exclusively with seaweed flavor. Such is not the case in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia where seaweed is used as a seasoning for something as basic as Pringles. But once we popped, did the fun really not stop?

Our consensus: The “fishy” smell is really overwhelming at first, though it’s definitely subdued as you continue eating. These could benefit from wasabi, Thai chili, or some other Asian flavor to detract from the brininess of the sea.

If you’ve never heard of Durian, you’ve clearly never traveled to Asia. It is perhaps the most beloved fruit in the region, though its gym sock, rotten onion, dirty garbage smell can be quite off-putting to many (duh). In fact, the spiky delicacy is actually banned from public transportation and planes to prevent the scent bomb from infiltrating small spaces. Since it’s cooked in practically every way possible, both savory and sweet, we opted for the latter in the form of a green bean durian cake from Vietnam.

Our consensus: No real trace of the signature smell (which is a great thing), but the texture was super chalky, bland, and all-around unappetizing. Since durian is already sweet, it’s actually quite delicious as an accent flavor to traditional dishes. (We tried durian vegan pizza in Vietnam and it was heavenly!).

Matcha is having a moment, but green tea has made its way stateside for decades. Since the flavor of green tea is already so muted, it complements a variety of ingredients and can be prepared in multiple desserts. We got our hands on the highly-coveted green tea Kit Kats, though ours came from Thailand and not Japan. (We’re not sure if that made a difference, but we’re not really sure it matters.)

Our consensus: Freakin’ delicious. Why can’t we have nice things?


So Hot: Can Durian Really Raise Your Blood Pressure?

Durian is always a great conversation starter, especially when it sometimes kills people. Behold these newspaper headlines from 1930’s to present, which I have collected out of some kind of morbid fascination:

These are not the traumatic deaths from durian falling on people, although that happens too (be comforted: it’s not common).

These are deaths of gluttony, when someone (usually a man) dies after eating either an unusually large amount of durian or combining durian with a carbonated or alcoholic beverage.

There are more recent examples, like the 2012 death of a businessman who ate 4 durians in a row, or the 2009 death of a Thai government worker who ate 5 durians, but webpage headlines don’t have the collage aesthetics of the old news prints.

These stories insert a certain risque appeal to eating durian. As if durian wasn’t exciting enough, just a pinch of death makes the taste even sweeter. Take a walk on the wild side, eat some durian.

Until you get old and death is already too close, at which point a lot of people stop eating durian out of fear.

It also opens the doors to a lot of questions. Why? What’s going with durian?

So many theories. But it most likely has something to do with this:

Heatiness

Nobody has yet tested the actual physiological effects of eating durian, but locals have a word for it: “heaty.”

It might not be an acceptable Scrabble play, since it’s technically not a real English word, but it is a term frequently tossed around durian stalls and eateries.

An imaginary Merriam Webster entry would look like this:

Heatiness is a concept from Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s present in Ayurveda as well, and it’s basically the yin-yang philosophy manifested in food.

Some foods, like vegetables, are cooling. Others, like coffee, alcohol, cake, pleasure, and durian are heating. To stay healthy, we need a healthy balance of both. The ratio of that balance is up for debate, but it seems to be different for different people.

Some people report a lot of different symptoms.

Some symptoms can manifest within 10-15 minutes of eating, like pounding heart, sweating, and feelings of heat.

Others, like sore throat, can take days of repeat abuse at the durian stalls.

There’s no actual scientific evidence that heatiness is a physiological thing. Some people think the whole concept of heaty foods is a bit antiquated, like bleeding people with leeches.

But when somebody kicks it after a particularly hearty durian feed, even doctors start pointing fingers at heatiness and trying to guess the mechanism of departure.

Most of them think it has something to do with this:

Durian Raises Temperature and Blood Pressure?

There are several doctors who have suggested that the “heaty” symptoms are actually caused by a temporary rise in blood pressure and body temperature caused by eating durian.

It’s well known that drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure just for the evening. For example, a glass of wine raises systolic blood pressure around 2 points for up to 10 hours. It’s not a big change, but to quote WebMD:

“While this doesn’t sound like much, even a few points can make a difference in people who have borderline or high blood pressure.”

When a 60-year-old business man perished after eating 5 durians in a row, Dr. Hu gave this statement about blood pressure to The Star:

Or when asked to reflect on whether durian was healthy, Dr. Wong, who speculated that durian might cause a slight increase in body temperature.

It’s logical. Things that raise your blood pressure would get more blood pumping through your veins which would make you feel hot. But what if I told you that:

Nobody Actually Knows

That sounds a bit crazy, right? With people dying and doctors giving public statements and the population of multiple countries believing that durian causes heatiness, no one has ever tested whether or not durian has any effect at all on either blood pressure or temperature.

As far as I know, no one has ever brought a thermometer with them to a durian stall to see if anything happens. Not local researchers, or durian nerds, or hypochondriacs, not even me, and I’m weird enough to do that.

Which is why I’m doing it now. It’s time to take sciencey things into our own hands and do a grassroots study.

So come eat durian with me on August 14

As a blogger who openly encourages and even celebrates wanton, indulgent durian gluttony, I feel a teeny tad bit responsible to get to the bottom of this heatiness epidemic and find out what’s really going on.

After all, if someone with a heart condition dies after I tell them where to pig out on durian, I’ll feel kind of bad about it.

THE WHERE Ministry of Durian in Singapore (or in your own home. See details)
THE WHEN 3:00-5:00PM August 14, 2016 SGP
THE GOAL Eat a crap load of durian (some people drink beer too). See if anybody’s body temperature or blood pressure changes.

Find out how this is going to go down and how you can get involved here or just click the poster. Or just leave me a comment telling me this is ridiculous (it’s okay, I know). Or leave me a comment to tell me you’ll be there!

I’m also *considering* running a livestream during the event. If this is something that would interest you, be sure to tell me so in the comment box below.


A Guide to the Chanthaburi Durian Festival, Thailand (with map)

The 2017 Chanthaburi Durian Festival is June 3-11th. It’s the biggest durian festival in the world, and one of the only ones that deserves the title “Durian Festival” instead of “Collection Of Durian Sellers in a Parking Lot.” It’s a big, crowded country fair with lots to look at and taste. But it can be both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time if you don’t know what to expect and where to go in the festival to find the good durian stuff.

Here’s an overview of the festival and what to (probably) expect in 2017.

Chanthaburi Durian Festival: Now And Then

I haven’t missed being there since 2012, which is starting to be a long time ago.

Way back then, in once-upon-a-time, the festival was held on the cramped sidewalks rimming King Taksin Lake Park in downtown Chanthaburi.

In 2015, the festival moved 12 km outside the city, causing confusion among non-Thai-speaking Durian Lovers as to where the festival is located these days (There’s a map down ↓↓).

The new durian festival is much, much bigger. There’s even a trolley that shuttles people around the festival grounds and the parking lot.

I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with what the New Chanthaburi Durian Festival is.

The old Chanthaburi Durian Festival was kind of cozy, a sprawling country fair of tarp roofs and outdoor food and fruit stalls set around King Taksin Lake park in downtown Chanthaburi.

It was easy to spend the whole day around the Lake Park, just moseying through the durian stalls, people watching, or looking for friends to eat durian with in the park. A few times a day there would be an activity, like a durian speed eating competition, or a free fruit buffet, or a sampling of durian varieties at the booth run by the Chanthaburi Horticultural Research Center.

Now, instead of a park, most of the festival takes place in buildings that look like this:

It’s different — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

VIDEO: Evolution of the Chanthaburi Durian Festival, 2012-2016

Previous years at the Chanthaburi Durian Festival

Guide to the Finding The Durian in the Chanthaburi Durian Festival

There are a lot of parts to the new festival. It’s a sprawling country fair, encompassing three swamp-cooler warehouses stuffed with booths and people, an outdoor maze of clothing and thing-a-ma-bobs, a row of baby plants and seedlings, and finally, the fresh durian and fruit stalls.

The durian sellers, surprisingly, make up a minor portion of the festival. In fact, a casual walk around might make you wonder where all the durian of the durian festival is.

So let’s take a look at this poorly-drawn and not-to-scale map from my memory:

The festival is a haven for shoppers, people-watchers, and those with an adventurous palate who like to taste all of Chanthaburi’s culinary creations — but if you’re solely, single-mindedly focused on eating durian, it might be a challenge for you.

So let’s use my mental map to get you straight to what I think are the most interesting parts of the festival for people like you and me.

My Favorite Things About the 2016 Chanthaburi Durian Festival

Fruit Sculptures

Greeting you at the entrance to the first tent is a huge display of fruit sculptures made with mangosteens, rambutans, and even durians.

It’s a little tragic looking at all those durians pasted into arrangement, knowing no one will eat them. But the sculptures are pretty cool to look at.

Why all the fruit bunnies? This post explains.

Free Fruit Sampling

Twice a day, several hundred kilos of fruit are handed out as samples to a hungry horde of people. This is a free fruit tasting event that happens at 11am and 5pm. To get in you need a ticket, but the ticket is free and you’ll most likely get one when you check into your hotel. If you don’t get one, just start asking around.

What they give away at the tasting varies depending on the day — usually rambutans, mangosteens, and snakefruits. One day when we were there they had run out of durian, and the other day they were giving away bite-size pieces of durian on toothpicks.

They also give away samples of cooked durian products. Both years, they had a lady fishing thin slices of unripe durian out of huge vats of oil to make durian chips. You could watch her work, then taste a chip while still hot and salty.

In addition to durian chips, they also put out samples of other traditional Thai durian desserts, like durian and sticky rice, durian guan, and candied durian, cooked in sugar until translucent (thurian chuam).

You can read a more detailed description of the Free Fruit Sampling and these cooked durian dishes in this post.

Fruit Wine Tasting

There isn’t actually any durian wine, mostly because of the Thai belief that combining durian and alcohol can kill you.

However, the French gentleman who owns the small craft winery in Chanthaburi has made durian wine and says it’s delicious and such a pity that no one will buy it.

Instead you can sample all kinds of other fruit wines, like mangosteen wine, snakefruit wine, rambutan wine, and two varieties of banana wine.

Maybe if enough people talk to him about his durian wine, he’ll make another batch. Just a hopeful thought.

Durian Som Tom

Nearby the wine stall are several stalls pounding Durian Som Tom, a light, limey and salty salad made out of durian that’s so unripe it’s starchy and crunchy and just slightly sweet.

You can make som tom with almost any vegetable, but usually it’s made with green papaya mixed with garlic, lime, chilies, copious salt, tamarind vinegar, fish sauce and small dried shrimps. If you’re a vegetarian, it’s easy to tell them to hold the fish stuff.

The durian version is especially wonderful because the crinkle-cut slivers soak up the dressing like a sponge, giving the durian a texture similar to springy cheese sticks inundated with the deliciousness of the dressing.

Somehow this dish is not super common in Thailand, so don’t miss tasting if you can help it.

Fruit Eating Competition

One of the main events of the day is a fruit speed-eating competition, which is always entertaining to watch. Can you guess who won this round? (it was the woman on the far right). They even had prizes, with up to 1,000 baht. That’s quite a lot for 2 minutes of hard eating.

I’m assuming this will happen again this year, although we didn’t see it last year and also couldn’t find any schedule of activities.

I’ve been told someone is going to send me the 2017 Schedule of Durian Events, and will update this blog post promptly on receiving it.

The Durian Situation

So finally. What’s the durian like at the Chanthaburi Durian Festival?

Well, it’s not the reason to go there. Last year, we were disappointed to find that the durian-buying areas were mostly sequestered in the the front on either side of the clothing maze. There was a very little bit in the building with the Fruit Sampling, all of it Monthong or Chanee.

We bought this packet of Chanee, which was excellent. But although we wanted more, we couldn’t get it. That vendor didn’t have any more, and when we walked down into the durian-buying areas, we were unable to find anything ripe enough to eat the same day.

There were also only the main four varieties — Monthong, Ganyao, Chanee and Puangmanee, whereas when the festival was at the lake park, we’d sometimes find weird ones like Nokayib or Tubtim, and there was always the exotic varieties at the booth run by the Horticultural Research Center.

Which brings up some of my complaints about the festival, just in case someone with durian powers is reading:

What I think would make the festival better:

Post the schedule online somewhere easy to find. Why is it so hard to find information about your event, even for Thai people? Create a Facebook page and upload the events schedule there so everyone can find it.

Make more information available in English. Your international guests would soooo appreciate it if you could make more of the information (like schedules) available in an alphabet we can read.

Cool it with the megaphones. Unrelated to durian, but one of the features that turns me off most about the festival is the decibel levels.

Create more pleasant places to sit and eat durian. Now that the festival is outside of the city, you can’t easily go back to your hotel or take a break in the park when it gets overwhelming. Create a quiet, shady area where people can hang out, eat, and hear each other talking without shouting.

Encourage Durian Diversity. If this is a celebration of local durian and durian growers, allow them both to shine by sharing the durians that make Chanthaburi special. I’m talking about Chanthaburi 1, 2, 3, Puangmanee, Nockyib, and some of the new hybrids (Nuan Thong Chan) and any unique or special varieties that you can’t normally find at a fruit market.

Just have more durian around. I’m going to be 28 next month, so while I’m not super old yet I feel that I can sagely make this observation: Focus Is Everything. Keep it simple. Keep it the Chanthaburi World Durian Festival.

Conclusion

I’m planning my 6th visit to the Chanthaburi Durian Festival. It’s exciting, the way all big markets are, but better, because there’s durian around. Plus it’s cool to get a chance to taste so many durian products in one space.

I’m taking my Thailand Durian Tour there this year, and we’ll stop for a bathroom and stretch break. I’m planning to spend about an hour there, which is all I think you really need to see and taste everything without being discomforted by the heat and decibel levels and then bored.

We’ll be there June 5th. See you there?

How to go to the 2017 Chanthaburi Fruitpital Festival

The Chanthaburi Fruitpital Festival is now located about 12km north of the city next to the Chanthaburi Provincial Administration Building.


10 Durian Stores In Singapore For Your Mao Shan Wang Fix

The only good thing that’s come out of the recent heat wave is that it’s officially durian season again! Thanks to the rising temperatures (and hence increased supply), the king of fruits are going for less than half their usual prices.

For the ever-popular Mao Shan Wang (Musang King), the market rate is now $18 to $20 per kg even at well known sellers like Ah Seng Durian, Combat Durian and The Durian Story.

READ NEXT

What You Need To Know About The Different Durians Available In Singapore

6 Expert Tips To Choosing The Best Durian (& Avoid Getting Scammed)

Tips for buying durians in Singapore:

• The best way to get your hands on the thorny fruit is to order in advance. You must call, WhatsApp or Facebook message them to reserve your durians, otherwise you’re probably going to be disappointed when you show up at the store.

• Dishonest sellers don’t only exist on Carousell – durian sellers can be bad too. They may try to pass other durian species off as Mao Shan Wang, or they may give you unripe or rotten fruit. If you’re worried about getting scammed, read online reviews or ask for the entire fruit to be opened at the shop. At least then if it’s unripe or rotten, you will know right away.

Durian Delivery is an online-only store. Their durians come de-husked and ready to eat, so you don’t have to fiddle with the thorny fruit exterior.

They are sold in 400g and 800g packs, and according to them, 800g of durian flesh (including seeds) comes from about 3.2kg of husked durians.

Delivery is chargeable at the following rates:

If you hit $80 you get free shipping, but that excludes late-night orders after 10pm.


How to Cook With Jackfruit

Preparing a green jackfruit takes a little doing, but it yields a lot of food. The extras can be frozen for future use, just like you would with extra fresh meat. Jackfruit contains natural latex, so if you have a latex allergy, wear gloves. If working bare-handed, slather oil over your hands and a sharp serrated knife so they don't get too sticky. Take extra caution when doing so and work carefully so the knife doesn't slip.

A common way to prepare jackfruit is by boiling or using a pressure cooker. It's best to lay down newspaper over a wide working surface, then slice the jackfruit into two halves. Keep slicing until you have large chunks of fruit (leaving the skin on). Boil the jackfruit chunks for 45 minutes or until the inner flesh is soft and a bit stringy, like chicken. If you have a pressure cooker, 10 minutes is usually enough.

When the jackfruit is cooked, peel off the skin to reveal the seeds and pods surrounding the seeds. The seed pods can be eaten, as well as the stringy fleshy sections between the pods and skin. Dig all of this out, separating the seeds. Cook with the "flesh" or bag and freeze it.

Many people choose to discard jackfruit seeds but they are edible as long as they're cooked. The raw seeds pose a potential risk to people who take certain medications, including common over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription blood thinners. Roasting, much like roasted pumpkin seeds, is a popular way to finish cooking the seeds. They can be added as a salad topping or smoothie ingredient, pureed into hummus, ground into flour, or eaten as a snack.


There’s more than one type

There are around 30 different varieties of durian. The fruit is native to Malaysia, Indonesia and Borneo however today there are durian farms in Sri Lanka, Southern India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and the southern Chinese island Hainan. Thailand is in fact the biggest exporter of the fruit and home to many durian farms which produce more varieties than the original native locations.


Is synthetic wine the next 𠆋ig thing’?

Ava Winery co-founders Alec Lee, Josh Decolongon and Mardonn Chua, from left, are photographed at their new location on Illinois Avenue in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The startup has begun to engineer synthetic wine without using grapes. - Jane Tyska — Bay Area News Group

Ava Winery co-founder Josh Decolongon pours a Moscato sparkling wine at their new location on Illinois Avenue in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The startup has begun to engineer synthetic wine without using grapes. - Jane Tyska — Bay Area News Group

Ava Winery co-founder Josh Decolongon pours a Moscato sparkling wine at their new location on Illinois Avenue in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The startup has begun to engineer synthetic wine without using grapes. - Jane Tyska — Bay Area News Group

SAN FRANCISCO >> The founders of Ava Winery spend their days turning water into wine.

They aren’t miracle workers. They’re chemists with one goal — to reverse engineer the perfect bottle of wine, in a lab, without grapes.

By freeing their wine from the confines of the grape harvest, Ava’s founders say they’re creating a more environmentally sustainable, predictable and cost-effective beverage. It’s the same logic a growing number of food-tech companies already embrace — from Memphis Meats making lab-grown chicken, to Clara Foods making animal-free egg whites — as some experts worry about the toll farming and livestock take on the Earth.

Perhaps most importantly, Ava’s founders swear the majority of people who taste their wine side-by-side with a traditional variety can’t tell which one is synthetic and which is made from fermented grapes.

“The product we end up with is chemically identical to wine,” co-founder Alec Lee said. “It’s indistinguishable at a molecular level.”

The idea for Ava Winery was born when co-founder Mardonn Chua, a chemist and wine enthusiast, caught a glimpse of, but couldn’t taste, a bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay — a rare and world-renowned wine that can sell for more than $10,000 per bottle. In true Silicon Valley fashion, he decided he could recreate that wine — and others — and make them accessible to all wine lovers.

Instead of a winery full of musky-smelling wooden wine barrels that overlooks a Napa vineyard, Ava runs a lab in an industrial corner of San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, a stone’s throw from WineWorks winery and Triple Voodoo Brewery. There, the startup’s team of chemists use a technique called chromatography to analyze samples of traditional wine — they force small amounts of wine through a device that separates it into its molecular components. Using software to analyze those resulting molecules, the scientists then come up with their own recipe to recreate the original wine.

They start with a base of water and high-proof alcohol distilled from corn, and then add molecules for flavor and aroma such as tartaric acid (a sour flavor), sotolon (notes of maple syrup and caramel) or grindstaff pyrazine (an earthy flavor and bell-pepper-like smell).

I visited Ava recently to try its test tube wine, and brought along Mary Orlin, the Bay Area News Group’s food and wine writer, who is also a sommelier. As soon as the wine was uncorked — we were trying a replica of a Moscato d𠆚sti, a sparkling, white dessert wine — the conference room we were sitting in was flooded with the smell of tropical fruit.

It looked like white wine — it was pale gold in color, and a tiny stream of bubbles snaked up through the glass. I took a sip. It tasted like wine — albeit very sweet wine, which I usually avoid. But it was refreshing, with strong peach and banana flavors, and I had no trouble downing my glass.

Orlin was intrigued by the concept of test-tube wine. But as far as she’s concerned, Ava hasn’t mastered it yet.

“It had very much a synthetic flavor to me,” she said after the tasting. “It tasted like banana bubble gum.”

She suggested plopping an ice cube in the glass and sipping it outside on a hot day — a sentiment I agreed with.

The wine we tasted had been bottled the day before, but that recipe has gone through hundreds of iterations over the past year and a half. Originally intended to be a chardonnay, it came out tasting more like moscato, so the founders said “let’s just run with it,” Lee recalled.

But their very first attempt, due to what the founders called a “miscalculation,” was less than delicious.

“It tasted like jelly beans,” said Chua. “Not in a good way.”

The problem was that the founders had eliminated some of the naturally occurring compounds that produce off-flavors in wine as part of the fermentation process. It turned out that even though those flavors aren’t considered desirable, the compounds they’re associated with are still important to the overall experience of the wine, Lee said.

That didn’t surprise Deborah Parker Wong, global wine editor for SOMM Journal and an expert in the science behind wine. No one yet has succeeded in perfectly mapping wine’s immensely complex molecular structure, which is the first step to recreating it, she said.

“I don’t see it happening in my lifetime,” she said.

While Wong is fascinated by what Ava is doing — she hasn’t tasted the product — she’s not willing to call it “wine.”

“It’s never going to hold a candle to wine for me,” she said.

The Ava founders admit they haven’t perfected their technology or their recipes yet — they’re not ready to try re-creating that 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay — but they’re still experimenting. In addition to their moscato, they’re working on two types of dry red wines, and one dry white, which they say are “very close” to being ready. And they’re working on getting approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to sell their products — though they may not be legally allowed to label them as “wine.”

Meanwhile, Ava’s wine is better for the planet, Lee says. It takes between 300 and 1,000 liters of water to make one liter of wine using California grapes, he said, but it takes just five to 10 liters of water to make a liter of wine using corn alcohol. And, unlike 100 percent of the traditional wine Ava tested in its lab, test-tube wine contains no pesticides.

The Ava founders see their work as part of a broader movement — helping society make what they see as an inevitable shift toward synthetic food.

“Our vision for what 500 years from now looks like is: all food is made in this way,” Lee said. “The food we make on Mars when Elon Musk takes us there will be made in this way. We’re not going to grow grapes on Mars.”



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