Gabai Is A Rare Antique Durian With Heritage Value
It won’t be surprising if you have only started to get more in tune with durian news and knowledge in recent years.
Marketing exposure of durians online has exploded partly aided by the pandemic. Leaving a lot of people working from home, spending a lot of time online, and heavily targeted by durian sellers advertising their online delivery services.
Coupled with the breathtaking increase in prices, sellers and middlemen agents are finding it even more profitable to expend their budgets on marketing.
So it’s only natural that more and more consumers are researching into this green spiky fruit before placing their orders from people they have never dealt with.
Anyone who has their interest piqued and does just a little extra investigation outside of the common durians such as musang king, black thorn and XO, would quickly learn that there are so many more types of durians in the market.
And many of them have been around for decades, if not centuries.
The really old durians that have withstood the test of time are really worth our reverence.
Product life cycles these days usually don’t last more than 18 months. And that being generous. To last so many years demands a mark of respect.
One such antique durian that is as rare as it gets today is D194 Gabai.
Gapai is actually an area located in Hulu Langat of Selangor state. A landmark that it is probably best known for is Gabai river with a waterfall that locals like to spend their getaway time splashing about in.
And understandably, gabai durian was named as such because the mother of this cultivar was supposedly located in a plantation within the area.
Don’t be misled by the registration date of gapai on MARDI records. This durian had been around for decades before the reg date.
This durian fruit used to command a strong presence. Demand was particular high in Singapore in the 1990s. And because the currency conversion of Singapore Dollar to Malaysia Ringgit was already about 1.5x during the 1990s before the Asian financial crisis of 1997, a lot of gapai was exported to the Singapore market for the better margins. The exchange rate jumping to over 2x during the crisis only made it even more attractive to export rather than keeping the fruits in the domestic market.
Somewhere along the line, musang king started to gain major media attention, and a lot of orchard owners started to replace their plantations with it because gubai is known as a tree that is strongly resistant to disease.
These days very few gubai durian trees remain in both East and West Malaysia.
Features of gabai durian D194
This is a small sized durian that usually weighs around one-and-a-half kilos give or take.
The shape is generally oval with the upper half having a wider girth than the lower half. The agricultural term for this attribute is ovoid.
This physical characteristic is often referred to by locals as like an upside-down pineapple.
The rim where the husk meets the stem at the top is slightly raised. And while the bottom is generally convex shaped, the arrangement of the bottom thorns due to an indented bottom can often create a form flat enough for the durian to stand up straight on it’s own.
It has thick luscious flesh, but hides a big seed within all that yellow goodness.
This is a bittersweet durian with a very smooth-dry texture. And the flavour is like a softer version of musang king with a hint of milkiness. If we are to rate the flavour of musang king as 5-stars, then gupai would be 3-stars.
Some fruits from old trees can be intensely bitter.
Gabai durian harvest season
The mid-season is when fruits start to drop.
However, because of the scarcity of this durian, it would be nothing short of a miracle for you to find it sitting nicely in a stall waving at you to grab it. Especially outside Selangor.
Only farmers who have decided to keep the heritage of this tree have it in their farmlands.
So you would really have to be on their good books for them to be generous enough to put you on their 2-year waiting list… if you are lucky.