Packing Durians for Flight Travel

One of the greatest consternations I have about air travel is how the airlines always prohibit durians on flights. It’s kind of annoying because the whole point of checking in is that the cabin doesn’t smell but I suppose they are just paranoid about the luggage bins picking up the scent. I’ve heard of a durian seller in Goh Tong Jaya (Genting Highlands) who sells his durians in triple sealed vacuum plastic boxes and bags for clients who want to pick them up and take them straight onto a plane. He’s got a very good crowd of clients who visit the casinos and spend their money on durians, then head straight for the airport and bring them back to their home country (usually HK or Indonesia). I’ve heard that this does not present any real issues on check-in because the seal is tight and not a whiff escapes.

Well, I haven’t got a vacuum sealer machine (maybe I should invest in one soon) but I thought I’d share my experience of packing durians for a flight because SW made a special request for his friend JS’s wife TT who is also a fellow durian lover. Since we were going to their house for dinner, SW thought it would make a very meaningful and unique gift (which it really is I guess…). Here goes:

What to prepare

Paper towels

Scissors

Cling Film

Masking Tape

Aluminium foil

Plastic bag (clean)

Baking soda

Clean damp cloth

Method

Buy the durians preferably a day before travel, make sure that you tell the durian seller you want them ripening only the day after your purchase to ensure that they stay fresh and firm (not wet and soggy).

Durians in the take-away box

Then take off the lid and insert a piece of paper towel to absorb any condensation which could happen with temperature changes.

Piece of paper roll on top of the durian

Then put the lid back on and give the box a wipe with a clean, damp cloth and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (this is a very important step to remove durian residues which durian seller’s hands may leave on the box!). The next step would be to create a seal for the container. I chose to do this with some broad masking tape.

Get ready your masking tape and scissors

I have both broad and thin masking tape and of different materials, one which is more like a paper tape and easily torn just with your hands, and a more plastic-ky tape which requires a pair of scissors to cut the tape neatly.

Cling Film and more tape

I don’t know if it makes a difference but I think putting the broad plastic tape might be better.

After taping all four sides (try to make the tape contiguous), I then proceeded to wrap the sealed box with cling film twice over, using the cling film lengthways over and around the container. Then I sealed the cling filmed box with another round of masking tape which made it look something like this…

I still wasn’t quite convinced this would be enough to get me through, so I brought out some aluminium foil to deflect any potential scanners (or maybe eyeballs) which could confirm the contents.

Aluminium foil wrapping

And I sealed the edges of the foil with more masking tape. Do you think this is overdoing it?

All durian boxes wrapped in the same fashion

Satisfied? Not really. I decided one more layer with an added smell/ humidity absorber would be good. I chose to use sodium bicarbonate* (or baking soda), lightly sprinkled onto each box which I subsequently wrapped in another final plastic bag.

Final plastic bag wrap and sealed with tape

Now I was finally satisfied. I put the packaged durians in the fridge overnight to chill them down and packed them in my luggage with some dish towels and an ice pack to keep them cool for my 6-8 hour journey and doused by luggage with some nice perfume (I recommend Guerlain! a bit pricey but it’s a great distraction).

The durians made it to our friends with no problem and didn’t stink out the fridge here at home or the temporary chiller when I arrived either (our friends ate the durians 2 days after I bought and packed them). The durians remained condensation-free and firm with just the right amount of ripeness.

This works for once-in-a-while packing, but I guess if this request comes more often, the pungent mau sang wangs might make me seriously consider investing in vacuum technology.

*I also tried coffee powder which TT recommended as a great scent absorber and stain remover. It might work great for some scents, but durians are so strong that you really do require something more chemical in nature I think.

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Stinky Spikes investigates Total Fruit Shop in Jalan Walter Monginsidi

One evening as we were planning on our usual Korean haunt for excellent barbeque cuisine, we got the taxi to drop us off at the fruit mart so that we could have a look around prior to dinner (may I say to everyone that this is not a good idea because if you’re hungry you’ll want to buy everything in sight).

CG had told us that this mart was a durian seller in the neighborhood, stocking durians usually of any varieties from all over so of course, Stinky Spikes had to go do some research on where this was a myth or truth. So we went.

First thing you see when you enter the store is the large poster hailing durian lovers to enter and expect.

Big Durian Poster upon entry

Of course, by looking at the poster the durians from Malaysia are indeed the best (or maybe anything that is imported is better?). And they are advertising the “Musang King” which is the mau sang wang…. wow.

So I wandered around the shop looking for it but all I found in the back cool section was this:

Not very many – only 4 left and all wrapped up in cling film

Hmm. Not a lot and quite disappointing. I looked to the left – Iranian dates in huge 5Kg boxes. To the right, cut fruit. Hmm. Ok fine, what type is it and how much does it cost?

XO clearly stated

Well, it’s definitely NOT a mau sang wang or a Musang King. But hey XO’s are sometimes pretty good too. A taste of slightly fermented fine wine with a bitter tinge. Ok fine, how much does it cost?

That’s a total of about USD 12 per durian (and they were kind of small)

So for these durians under a kilo in weight, you would expect to be setback by around USD 12+. Is it worth it? I guess if you have a craving XO’s are much cheaper in Malaysia and not forgetting that once you remove the husk and extract the fruit, there’s probably not much in there which can be seriously disappointing.

On my next slow and winding path around to explore the rest of the shop, I found this:

Durian Potong Sticks at the Jalan Walter Monginsidi shop

Halal durian potong sticks for Rs 6,000 (that’s less than USD 1). Of course they come in all sorts of flavors but how are the durian ones faring in sales?

Durian Potong Sticks are popular!

Looks like it’s doing well and I think this would be the cheaper alternative to buying the durian if you just need to get rid of the flavor craving.

When I asked the guys at the counter why there was no Musang King, the response was a big smile saying “but we have XO”. “Durian Musang arrives by flight shipment next week, you can come back then”.

So I guess similar to my arrangements in Malaysia, you just have to have contacts with the fruit men to tell you when those fruits will arrive.

The main question is, will they arrive ripened or unripened? And what would you pay for it?

End of primary investigation by Stinky SpikesĀ 

 

 

 

 

Roaring Trade at Dempsey Car Park

Dempsey Car Park Durian Stall

Attention: All Durian Lovers from Malaysia who are vacationing in Singapore and wondering where to go have some durian while seeing the sights…

The other night while driving down from dinner at Dempsey, I noticed that the durian stall at Dempsey doing great business. When we drove in to Dempsey, the durians lined the shelves and the stall had many baskets of fruit for sale. Then after dinner, when I took this photo, the durians were almost all sold out.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop and peruse their shipment and durian but I’ve eaten there before and can assure you that it’s a premium (due to location and convenience) but you also pay for what you get. The durians are reliably good.

So if you want to have a romantic dinner and durian, then consider one of the nice places in Dempsey and take a short stroll down towards the stalls which is past the Samy’s curry and Beets Restaurant towards Holland Road.

Here’s a map!