* This article was published in the New Straits Times (Life & Times) on 21st June 2010.
Many people love the durians from Penang and the best time to indulge in the King of Fruits this year is from the month of May to late July. This year’s durian season is much later due to the unpredictable weather.
Many will make a visit to the durian farms located around Teluk Bahang, Pantai Aceh and Balik Pulau, with the latter being the most popular area for durian seekers. Most of these farms are closed to the public and only a few are open and even then, they tend to be more of eco-tourism orientated.
The King of Fruits Have Arrived!
We had a wonderful outing visiting the Pondok Upeh durian farm which is one of the several private durian orchards in Balik Pulau area operated by the Loh Family! When we arrived, we were greeted by Mr Loh and he led us tracking up the narrow path hemmed in by many tropical fruit trees and wild vegetarians.
Durians are in full swing with many of the trees laden with the fruit. Besides two hundred over durian trees, Mr Loh cultivates many other types of fruit trees; including the mangosteen, rambutan, dragonfruit, jackfruit, langsat and the famous Penang iconic nutmeg.
Day out enjoying the natural atmosphere of the orchard
The trail ascends and descends, including some steep steps and we rested at the compound of Mr Loh’s house before we continued with the journey up to the higher part of the orchard. Along the way, he shared with us the various types of durians and the information on growing them.
He stressed that the older durian trees planted about twenty-five years ago produces higher quality durians. The fruit tend to have a stronger fragrance and flavor with smooth thick creamy flesh as compared to those produced by the younger trees. It was indeed a new learning experience knowing so much more in depth about the durians.
A four-in-a-row of the majestic fruit!
A durian from one of the nettings
To prevent the durians from falling down to the ground, Mr Loh came out with several ways, such as setting up nettings and tying the durians individually with strings. Apparently, these methods ensure that the durian do not crack on the falling impact.
Durians tied with strings
After the tour, we returned to the house and tried a few different durians that Mr Loh had reserved for us. The flavorful durians were dropped from the tree the night before and harvested early in the morning. Mr Loh begins his rounds collecting the durians in the early hours from 5am in the morning!
Mr Loh pries open the durian easily
The species that we had included the Hor Loh, Ang Heh and the Chaer Phoy, with each having its own flavor ranging from sweet to bittersweet. All of them have a substantial amount of flesh. Mr Loh advises us to warm up the taste buds with a mild flavored durian before progressing to the stronger ones.
Thick creamy flesh with tiny seeds
The thick aromatic orange reddish flesh of the Ang Heh
The flesh of the highly popular Hor Loh (Water Gourd Durian) is very soft and creamy in texture. This is a sweeter type of durian. The aromatic orange reddish flesh of the Ang Heh (Red Prawn Durian) with a bitter sweet taste is a favorite among durian lovers. This durian is rather expensive and its delicate flesh is delightful to bite on. On the other hand the Chaer Phoy (Green Skin Durian) with its soft creamy pale yellow flesh might not look appealing; however it is very tasty, a bit dry with a slightly sweet taste. It was indeed finger licking good!
Every durian fruit is different from the other
Mr Loh shows us how the durian pulp are taken from the seed and used to cook into the sweet durian kuih. This delightful treat is made by his mother. The gusty seventy year over lady spends a few hours constantly stirring the durian kuih mixture from getting burnt. It is difficult to resist the superb aroma wafting through the air. A roll of the durian kuih, made without any preservatives cost RM7.
From Mr Loh house we could see the spectacular seaview and the township of Teluk Bahang. Indeed enjoyable, experiencing a day in a durian farm with vast grassland and live stock of chickens waddling around. The surrounding air was much cooler and breathing in the fresh air was like rejuvenating oneself.
Magnificent view from Mr Loh’s Plantation
Do give a call to Mr Loh to check the availability of this seasonal fruit before hand as he might not have any durians for the day. Most of the durians are already allocated and sold to the durian sellers in town and for called-up visitors. For those who are not familiar with the location, Mr Loh will arrange for a meet-up to guide you to the farm.
Tel: 017 4464959
GPS Coordinates: N05 20.289 E100 14.256
For those who do not wish to travel all the way to Balik Pulau, you can easily get the durians from Penang Ah Teik Durian Stall. This stall is conveniently located right beside the Sun Yat Sen building in Lorong Susu/Mccalister Road.