Ahh durian season…you’ll probably smell it before you hear about it. Here are some hacks to get you through the season – whether you love eating durian or not.
1. Wash your hands with the durian seed to get rid of the smell.
Okay, so you’ve had one too many pieces of durian and now your hands reek of it too. The easiest (and cheapest) way to get rid of the smell? Rub the durian seed on your hands while washing – the key is to use the brown parts of the seed to rub, not the white fibrous bits. There’s no official explanation as to how this sorcery works, but the seed probably has amazing smell-absorbing properties.
Finish off by rubbing an alcohol-based hand sanitiser on your hands – the alcohol will help to kill any last remnants of the smell.
(Source: Year of the Durian)
2. Use baking soda to absorb the smell in your car.
Maybe your boss put in an extra large order of durians, or your mom has a sudden craving for them. Either way, you’re stuck with durians in your car and the lingering pungent smell to remind you of them. Some people swear by pandan leaves to neutralise the smell, but you can also use baking powder to absorb any odours. Simply fill a few empty containers with baking powder, and place them in different spots of your car with the lids open. Depending on how strong the smell is, the baking powder will usually work its magic over a day or two.
3. Store leftover durian in the freezer, not fridge.
Durian season inevitably means that, even if you don’t like durians, you’ll still smell them everywhere – including your fridge. The best way to store leftover durian is to wrap the fruit in cling wrap and foil, then seal them in a zipper bag before storing in the freezer. Freezing will keep them longer than refrigerating, and also prevents the smell from contaminating other food in the fridge. When you want to resume your durian feast, just take the frozen durian out and thaw to room temperature.
4. Durian Breath
If you made the mistake of having some durian right before an important meeting or date, here’s a handy trick to combat your durian breath. Pour salt water into the durian shell, then use a fork to scrape the sides so that the compounds from the durian shell mix well with the water. Rinse your mouth with the water a few times, then finish off with a strong mint (or mouthwash). If you’re wondering how this works – durian shells actually contain the compound 5-Hydroxy-methyl-furfural (5-HMF), which acts as a deodorising agent to neutralise the strong smell.
(Source: Eugene Kim Flickr)
5. Pick the perfect durian by shaking or poking it.
As durian season comes into full swing, it won’t hurt to learn how to pick a good durian so that you don’t get ripped off. If the durian is still in its shell, shake the durian (using a pair of gloves or towel to hold it) and listen to it. If you hear hard knocks, it means that the fruit is still unripe. If you don’t hear anything, the fruit is probably too ripe. What you want to hear is a soft, muffled knock, which means that the fruit is perfectly ripe.
For pre-packaged durian, do the poke test (and by poke we mean touching gently, not digging your fingers in and besmirching some perfectly good durian). The flesh should feel soft, but not mushy. If you poke the flesh and it feels hard (or doesn’t leave the slightest dent), then the fruit is probably not ripe enough yet.
(Source: Jeng Shin Flickr)
6. How to open your durian (without impaling yourself)
If you don’t have a durian stall uncle (or this strapping young Jay Chou-lookalike durian seller) around to open your durians, do not despair. First, get a towel or a pair of thick gloves. Start by turning the durian over and you’ll see a star-like formation at the bottom of the fruit. Use a sharp knife to pierce the centre of the star and drive the knife in about 2 inches deep, then twist it until the shell begins to split. From there, use the knife (or your hands, if you’re brave) to pry the shell open.
(Source: Ian Martin Flickr)
7. Drink coconut water to neutralise durian heartburn.
Durians are as heaty as they are tasty, which is why heartburn is not an uncommon complaint during the season – especially when Singapore’s weather has been unbearably hot as of late. Many people swear by mangosteens to cool the body down, but if you’re not a fan of those, try coconut water. Both fresh and bottled coconut water is readily available at most supermarkets, and is easy on the stomach and palate (unlike most traditional cooling drinks). If you feel bloated from having one too many durians, rub some medicated oil on your stomach to combat the flatulence (it’s about as aunty as you can get, but hey it works).