Why does the Durian fruit smell so horrible?


| 2 Comments

What is a Durian fruit? :

 

durians.jpg

 

A Durian fruit is a notorious Asian fruit that has an extremely potent smell. Food writer RIchard Sterling has written "it's oder is best described as turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym soch. It can be smelled from yards away."

The fruit has such a stench that it has been banned on the Singapore Rapid Mass Transit.

 

durian-sign.jpg

 

Anthony Bourdain http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/anthony-bourdain -- calls the fruit "indescribable, something you will either love or despise...your breathe will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."

Durains outter skin is often eaten raw, or cooked and used to flavor a number of traditional Southeat Asian dishes and candies. It is also said to be used in traditional Asian medicine, both anti-fever treatment and a aphrodisiac.

So what is it in the Durain that makes it smell so potent?

 

A group of scientists from the German Research Center for Food Chemistry has attempted to figure out how exactly the fruit produces such a powerful stench.

First the team of scienctist broke down the aroma extract taken from Thai Durains, with a mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph. The team pinpointed 50 discrete compounds in the fruit that were responsible for the uncommon aroma. 4 of the compound found in the Durains had been completely unknown to science!

 

Their research suggests that it is not any single compound that makes the fruit stink so terribly, but rather, it's the combination of different chemicals that produces the fruits powerful smell.

 

The researchers in this study expressed their thoughts on what the Durain fruit smelled like:

"fruity, skunky, metallic, rubbery, burnt, roasted onion, garlic, cheese, onion and honey."

Its crazy how one fruit can have so many chemical properties and produce such a aroma, know for its potency all around the world.

Another study I came across, (a fairly new on, at that) from scientist at Japan's university of Tsukuba, expresses that Durains makes it much more difficult for the human body to break down alcohol. It is said to be because of the Durains high sulfur content. So I would suggest not drinking while eating Durains, that is, if you are brave enough to come face to face with one.

They also say that this could be the an explanation of the occaisional deaths and illnesses after eating durains.

 

 



Sources//More Info! :

 

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2012/11/what-makes-the-durian-fruits-smell-so-potent/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PNmuExjlEM

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/food/2009/09/death-by-durian-fruit/

http://www.dwih.com.br/index.php?id=54

http://books.google.com/books/about/Food.html?id=qxeq3qT7qI8C

2 Comments

I'm so happy someone blogged about this!
I'm from Taiwan so I have friends who eat this all the time. In fact, my parents and grandparents love this fruit and they don't mind the smell at all! Albeit, we may find it awful smelling, people from my culture don't mind the smell. This is because of how our bodies work. When we smell something for a long time, we get used to it and don't smell it anymore. It's an evolutionary cause; we adapt to our environment (adapt to the smell), so we can become alert to unusual smells that can pose threat. This is also known as olfactory fatigue , also known as odor fatigue or olfactory adaptation. This means we get used to the unnatural smells around us. In a southeastern country's case, they're familiar to the durian smell and don't find it smelly.

PS: I've tried this fruit once, the taste of the fruit is opposite of what it smells like. It's one of the sweetest fruits I've ever tasted!

When I saw that someone had written about this, I could not stop laughing. Last year, my friend's Chinese roommate was preparing this fruit (unbeknownst to my group of friends) and we could smell it the whole down the hall and thought that there was a gas leak. We told the RA and he called a man who came to check to see if there was a gas leak, as it turns out, it was just a nice little Durian fruit!
I think that the fact that they discovered four new compounds because one fruit just smells so horrible.
Something that I was very curious about was why the Durian fruit (which costs upwards of $200) is so expensive. According to an article I found, the reason that the fruit is so expensive is for two reasons. First, the flesh of the fruit is a very sweet, delicious, and almost custardy which means that it is in large demand. Second, the fruit has a very short season and a very short shelf life. The two of these add up to a high price tag for a smelly fruit.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Hybrids
Everyone has heard of them as being the best car out there, mainly cause of gas prices. Hybrids are sweeping…
Break-Ups
People everywhere are breaking up, just in time for the holidays. And the more couples I see parting ways, the…
Pregnancy Tests
While browsing Andrew's blog and looking to see all of the posts that I missed (I'm pretty sure I haven't…

Old Contributions