If you have just entered the world of durians, what led you here might have been the guilt-ridden seductive taste of musang kings.
After all, musang king currently rules the land in Malaysia and Singapore by virtue of it’s incredibly luscious taste and mass availability.
It’s no exaggeration to say that there is still a craze for mao shan wang. At least now there is a huge supply serving the insatiable cravings of the market.
Many years ago, when supply was barely keeping up with demand, people were actually fighting at storefronts for a little elbow room to grab them.
We only have to go back a few decades to find another durian that garnered as much hype as bak kwa (BBQ pork) during Chinese New Year and mooncakes during the mid-autumn festival.
The durian I’m talking about is D11 during the 1970s and 1980s.
Before going on, it’s important to recognize the context of the environment in those days of disco retro.
There were no brand names and no premium labels. Durians were basically classified as… durians. All under the umbrella of what we term today as kampung durians.
Patrons of durian stalls basically walk over to baskets of durians with different price tags and pay for what they pick. That’s it!
So when a particular type of durian is good enough to earn a title, it says a lot about it’s prestige.
I’ll be honest and say that I have absolutely no idea how it ended up with the D11 moniker. It has no registration number and many still see it as a kampung durian today.
But what I have heard from durian historians who studied at the international institute of durianiverse is that the legend began with a certain Walter Fox who laid the seeds in the early 1900s near Penang’s Botanic Gardens. Some might know of this historical figure who played a huge role in shaping the agricultural landscape in Malaysia and Singapore.
While the physical evidence of the mother tree is no longer present, visionary farmers grafted D11 from the mother tree when it was in the pink of health. Which was the beginning that led to the insane stampeding popularity of D11 in the 1970s.
We are lucky that there were farmers who realised the potential of D11 and didn’t allow it to go extinct.
And since this was a cultivar that started gaining commercial recognition very early, the D11 we find today are mostly fruits grown form old trees. Implying that you will seldom be left disappointed with inconsistency.
Features of D11 durian
D11 has a husk that is generally oval and elongated.
While stem is not considered long, especially when you compare to ganja, it is usually observable to be just that slightly longer than average.
It’s husk spots a colour that is light-green, with a tendency to fade towards a greenish-brown hue.
The thorns resemble that of perfect conical spikes that are neither concave or convex. They just shoot straight up and meet at the tip of the spikes.
Opening this durian is like a walk in the park. In fact, it is so vulnerable to bumps that you will often find that the durian has already creaked open at the bottom seams when you scrutinize it before purchase.
Even if the durian was intact when you bought it in the morning, it can still open naturally from the bottom in the evening. So don’t be alarmed by this mysterious behaviour of D11.
However, this is one uniquely resilient durian that can retain it’s flavour and quality very well even when it has cracked open.
While durian connoisseurs often state that the golden hours to consume durians fresh is within 2 hours of the drop, D11 preserves it’s freshness very well for as much as 12 hours.
A lot of the characteristics associated with fresh durians are retained.
This means that if your new years resolution is to only have fresh durians for the year, you can actually buy D11 in the morning and have it in the evening without falling afoul of your own ridiculous rules.
Unlike cultivars like khun poh which can turn very watery when left exposed for a few hours, D11 can pretty much hold it’s own.
With that said, don’t take D11’s willingness to wait for you for granted. Stretching the limits of the waiting game will carry the risk ending up with a grossly overripe durian.
Despite it’s reputation, D11 actually has a mild tender aroma. Maybe even subtle enough to sneak into a hotel. And by the time you are busted, you would have already devour the fruit and there’s nothing the staff can do except to issue a verbal warning.
You might even want to use it for fragrant aromatherapy, if you are into that kind of stuff.
As you pull apart the husk, you will be greeted by shimmering milky yellow pulps.
Don’t be surprised to see it’s skin disturbed and seemingly out of place. This is most probably caused when it hit the ground as it dropped off the tree… which also explains it’s cracked bottom (if any).
The texture of the flesh is dry and sticky. Almost feels like melting chocolate in your mouth. The presence of a floral taste is unmistakable and the taste is almost never bitter.
Durian experts might often predict that durians with husks in these shapes would contain small flat seeds. But D11 is one that is anything but the norm in this respect. Because the seeds are regular sized.
With a layer of flesh considered as thin when we compare it to modern day durian standards, the yield is actually not that impressive.
D11 harvest season
D11 is well known as an early season durian. It typically starts dropping from the tree in May which means that you will often notice it competing for shelf space with 604 and lipan. That is assuming that there is any competition at all since the main bumper season for other cultivars has yet to arrive.
You can expect a damage of about $8/kg to $10/kg.
These days, D11 mostly serves a niche market. Primarily those who wish to bring back memories of it’s glorious past.
What it has going for it however is it’s ability to hold it’s quality from the morning to the night. It’s affordable price. And strong flavour.
With that said, don’t for a moment belittle D11 as it is still considered as a premium grade cultivar in the category of durians.