Eating D18 Durian Feels Like Riding Into The Sunset
Durian cultivars that are officially registered with the Malaysia Agricultural agency (MARDI) are given a record number that starts with D#.
But there are also a good number of durian varieties that are not registered with MARDI, and yet take up names starting with “D” followed like a number. Making them look like official cultivars.
There is also D18.
D18 is a registered durian type. But there is also an unregistered cultivar with Thai origins that goes by the moniker D18 big bun.
We are going to talk about the officially registered D18 here.
It also goes by a popular alias sunset. The mandarin name is a classy sounding xi yang hong (夕阳红) which translates to red sunset. An indication of what you can expect to see when opening up the durian.
It got this name because unlike regular durians trees that are unpredictable in when they naturally detach the fruits to let them drop, D18 fruits only drop from the tree at sunset. Not sunrise, not eclipse, dawn or dusk. Only sunset when the sun goes down.
Maybe that’s a lame joke… actually…
Not much information about the history of this cultivar is available, except that most people would trace it’s origins story back to the rich durian fields in Pahang. It should also be noted that some would argue that it came from Johor.
Features of D18 durian
This is a typically medium to large sized durian fruit with an average weight of below 2kg.
The shape of the husk is rounded and and sometimes slightly elongated like jackfruit. Saying that, it is mostly round most of the time in the manner of D88.
It’s stem is of average length and does not standout as a feature.
While the thorns are spaced out, short, and pointy at the tip. When we add this to the ash-like green colour of the husk, the exterior appearance can resemble that of Johor red prawn.
The bottom of the husk where the seams meet has a small indented area in the style of XO, but tinier.
When you pull apart the husk to reveal it’s fruitlets, you will behold a sight filled with orangy-red. The majority of lobes, or segments or pods or whatever you want to call it, makes up 1 or 2 seeds and takes up a curved shape on top and flatlined below.
This creates an illustrated version of a sunset over the sea’s horizon. Thus the name.
Durian old-timers might not be able to visualize this as they have already seen hundreds, if not thousands of durians. But newbies might be able to see this “sunset” better.
The resemblance of a sunset is also helped by a thick husk which doubles up as the “sky” in the imagery.
The look of the interior husk with orange flesh can also carry an appearance resembling that of black thorn. I have to say, some D18s have left me scratching my head due to how much they look like black thorn when opened. The solid and thick looking husk, the bulging frutlets, and even how deep the pods can go. Some even have a red core as well. But experts would be able to tell the difference by the colour, shape and texture of fruitlets.
These pulps also separate from each other with their own skin membrane.
The texture of the thick flesh is wet soft with a hefty smoothness and absent fiber that might remind one of thin milkshakes or yoghurt drinks.
The taste is geared towards sweetness. But can come with with very heavy bitterness from old trees. It’s comparable to D13. So a younger crowd who have yet to develop that acquired taste might like it more than other bitter durians like green skin.
The size of the seed is what you’d call regular sized. However the thick meaty flesh does slightly make up for the yield you get with this durian.
Saying that, if this durian is priced in the mid-range, the value for money factor will be greatly compromised.
D18 harvest season
D18 is a mid-season durian that usually makes it appearance in markets in the month of June.
However, there is very little supply as many farmers have replaced their D18 trees with more commercial varieties like musang king and black thorn.
At a low affordable price, this is one durian that wouldn’t cause you as much damage as the premium cultivars. But these days, people who pick them up are usually those who want to cross it out from their list of durians to eat or when there is little else that a stall is offering.
Saying that, you might be surprised at how powerfully bitter some of these sunsets are.