How The Powerhouse Capri Durian Got It’s Name
In the world of Malaysian durians, the king of fruits can generally be grouped into two categories of registered cultivars and kampung durians.
Registered cultivars refers to the types of durians that has been registered with the Malaysian agriculture authority, more often known in short for it’s abbreviation as MARDI. Durian types that are registered on record are given an official national recognition for it’s quality and consistency in delivering good taste.
The other category of kampung durians basically groups all other durians without an official record at MARDI under it. It implies that even wild durian found in the mountains are grouped into this segment. It is also generally means that such durians were grown from seeds instead of direct clones from cultivars with a certain degree of pedigree.
Under this category, we can say that there is a sub-group consisting of recognized but unregistered cultivars.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see consumers dismissing kampung durians altogether. This is partly because of the connotations associated with the word kampung which is a Malay word for village.
People can be expected to have much lower expectations for fruits that they assume have not been cultivated in actual farms but in a village instead.
But this is a gross misinterpretation.
Many durians started in kampungs, earned a great reputation, and then farmers started cultivating them in their plantations. It’s just that these durians retained the names that made them famous in the first place.
Why fix something that isn’t broke?
And there’s every chance that they would get registered in the future. After all, all durians, including those that are registered today, started off as kampung durians.
There are actually quite a few unregistered durians that can only be described as heavenly.
One of those which packs a heavy punch that has generated quite the storm in recent years is Capri.
It is sometimes spelled as Kapri, or called Couple/Coupling. It has also adopted the moniker white jade pearl (白玉珍珠) and jia bi li (甲必利).
The story behind Capri was that the mother tree stood tall on a plot of land in the Sungai Batu village of the Teluk Kumbar area, south of Penang island.
Farmers managed to collect grafting material from the tree before it died from catastrophic damages inflicted by a heavy thunderstorm in the late 1960s.
We are so fortunate that they did.
The legend behind the name capri is that the original name was in fact couple which was a reference to how symmetrical the fruitlets on either sides of pods look when the durian was opened. And as time passed, slangs and mispronunciations of the English word by natives slowly morphed the word couple into capri. Kapri is a spelling of capri that leans more towards the Malay language.
This morphing might be better understood by pronouncing the cou in couple as car, and the ple as how you would pronounce the word plea.
Despite sometimes being labelled a kampung durian, capri has a notorious reputation amongst durianers for it’s super strong taste. It is a powerhouse in this regard with few peers.
As more and more durian lovers has had the opportunity to try it with each season, the word is spreading with a growth rate that Tesla would be proud of.
I can see farmers eventually getting it registered like ang hua.
Features of capri durian
The size of capri ranges from small to medium. Mostly small that weighs in the range of 1kg.
It is mostly found shaped like a round ball like bola and it’s husk is somewhat lime green in colour.
A lot of times, I find that they look sturdy and as solid as steel itself. I don’t know why it plants that image into my head, but it just gives me that impression.
The directions of the spikes are really what you would describe as all over the place. Very much in a manner of how explosions are depicted in cartoons.
At the top of the fruit where the the thorns meet the stem, there is a bald ring surrounding the stem like a round about or a moat circling a castle. Upon closer inspection, you’d find that this bald area is not as bald as it appears to be. It’s actually made up of sunken spikes that has been flattened to a certain degree.
Upon opening the durian, you’d realise how thick the husk is and contained in it’s pods are white fleshy fruitlets waiting to please you.
As mentioned earlier, how this durian got it’s name is that very often, we’d find that the fruitlets are like mirror images of each other on 2 different pods side by side. It can also look like two pieces of a puzzle that would fit together like a dovetail joint or a pair of couple T-shirts.
Thus, giving credence to the name coupling which is now capri.
The white is not as white as the colour of the fresh milk. But an off-white colour like condensed milk. Which is why it is sometimes affectionately called susu even though that is actually a name of another type of durian.
Yet the taste is anything but similar to any dairy product.
This is one strong tasting durian that can send you flying backwards if you haven’t been warned about it when eating for the first time. So make sure there is nothing hazardous behind you.
It can also be quite bitter. So get some tissue ready to wipe your tears.
Those who love bitter durians will be floored by the exceptionally strong bitter taste packed in capri. It also carries a substantial level of alcoholic flavour that reminds you of rum. Some even swear of tasting a hint of banana in it.
With that said, the complex sweetness that you can make out within the bitterness is described as fruity by a lot of people.
The dominating flavour is very hard to describe in words because there is simply nothing else like it. It’s one durian that you would have to try to appreciate… unless you are one who would not touch bitter durians even with a fishing pole.
The flesh is rather thick while the texture is creamy paradise.
Even though the seeds are big, the thick flesh makes up for the yield that you get.
I’ve had quite a few capris over the years. One attribute that should be mentioned is that it’s a durian that often come with uneven pulps. What I mean by this is that you can often find fruitlets within a durian that is partially unripe.
It has happened to me frequent enough for me to think that it’s not a coincidence. I’d say that as much as 40% of the kapri whole durians I’ve had contain some of such fruitlets. E.g. 4 out of 10 capris contain some fruitlets with ripeness problems. But I might just be unlucky with this. I don’t know.
It’s also a durian that does not handle exposure after dropping off the tree very well. So if you leave it from the morning to night before consuming, you can expect to see them turn watery.
Unscrupulous sellers can sometimes attempt to pass capri off as bak eu. They can really look very similar especially when opened up or when the aril is packed into a box unhusked.
Capri harvest season
This is an early-season durian with the bumper crop usually finish dropping off the tree within 3 weeks.
While durian harvesting periods can vary, I do notice that capri tend to be available within the month of June itself.
Meaning that the 3 week window being frequently commencing from late May or early June.
But if your appreciation for durians grows as the level of bitterness increases, you will feel that it’s money well spent.