Fruit or Vegetable?


Photo by Francis Chung under CC BY 2.0
Is a Durian a Fruit or Vegetable?
Botanically, this is...
A Capsule! (A type of fruit)
Culinarily, this is...

Durians are very unique fruits. While they are botanically fruits, they are an odd capsule in that they are quite large, less dry, and very fleshy. They are also culinarily fruits, yet they are very different than fruits we typically eat in the west. They are much more creamy than juicy, and have much more complex flavor than just the fruity sweetness most fruits offer. Durians have some sweetness, yet they are also a bit bitter and have complicated savory flavors mixed in. Its main flavors have been described as a mixture of cheese, garlic, and caramel. Other flavors included are almonds, chives, onions, butterscotch, and wine.

Although it has a savory flavor in it, it is usually not a vegetable. It is almost always eaten raw, and occasionally cooked into a dessert.

Admittedly, unripe durians are occasionally eaten as a vegetable in Thailand, India, and Malaysia, often when the wind blows them out of trees in what is called “durian runtuh”. This is because they are tougher and lacking in flavor before they are ripe.

Durians are also notable for being the smelliest fruit. They’re so smelly that they’re often banned from hotels, public transportation, and other public places. The smell has been described as sewage, turpentine, onions, and skunk spray. It sounds like something only the Grinch could love, yet the durian’s unique and powerful flavor apparently outweighs the smell and makes it a niche favorite of many people.