PETALING JAYA - Sydneysiders will be the first in the world to taste the closest equivalent to fresh durian – chilled durians.
Previously, Malaysian durians were exported either in frozen form or as whole fruits.
During her first year in Sydney, registered nurse Jaslene Chew tried frozen durians sold in the supermarkets, but they could not pass the taste test.
“The quality was not consistent. If you were lucky, you got the sweet ones with soft flesh. But some were dry and tasteless,” said the 24-year-old.
Chew may be in luck now, thanks to Mardi, which developed a way to package the fast-to-degrade durian flesh in a modified atmosphere packaging, which is then kept a just a few degrees Celsius all the way as it is transported by air to Australia, with cooling provided by either frozen gel or dry ice.
Through chilling, fresh durians can be kept for three weeks at 2°C, one week at 10°C and two days at 25°C.
Chilling preserves the texture of the flesh, helping to lock in the robust flavour of the fruit, as opposed to freezing, which destroys the internal structure of the flesh (when water freezes it forms crystals).
Chew looks forward to seeing how the new technology can preserve the freshness of durians so that Malaysians residing overseas can enjoy the King of Fruits, and foresees a similar reception among her Australian friends.
Business insight analyst Amy Lai also greeted the news with excitement as she thought that existing options in Sydney were “okay-okay only”.
“The durian here is not as delicious. Most of the time, I just settle for durian-flavoured desserts,” said the 25-year-old who often shares tips with friends on where to get their durian fix.
Though he lives near Chinatown, masters student Lim Jun Zhao has experienced difficulty finding the fragrant fruit in Sydney.
“Now I’ll keep an eye out for it in the supermarkets. I might have to pick a special day to stay home and eat durians, as most don’t like the smell of it!” said the 23-year-old.
Caleb Khoo, a lawyer with Malaysian roots based in Sydney, is also excited that chilled Malaysian durians will be available.
Likewise, his wife Karen Khoo, a Malaysian-born Australian who has resided in Australia for the last 23 years, is also elated with the availability of durians in Sydney.
“It’s reminiscent of the times when I was a kid, squatting in our dining room in Petaling Jaya, eating sweet-smelling durians,” she remarked animatedly.
Tan Su Yin, who moved to Sydney when her husband was posted there, was pleasantly surprised by the news.
“Yes, I am thrilled, but I have to find out how much it is first!” said Tan, who once paid A$15 (S$17) for a small portion of frozen musang king durian.
There are no indications how much chilled durians will cost in Sydney, but given the abundance of Malaysians there, there is little chance that there will be leftovers by the end of the day.
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