This article was fact checked by our health experts.
Summary of key points
Durian and jackfruit are tropical fruits known for their unique appearance. While they may appear similar at first glance, they differ in various ways, including their physical characteristics, flavor, aroma, nutritional composition, culinary uses, and cultivation.
Durian is often called the “king of fruits” and is native to Southeast Asia. It is known for its spiky exterior and strong, pungent smell. On the other hand, Jackfruit is native to South Asia and has a subdued aroma. In addition, it is recognized for its large size and green, bumpy exterior.
In this article we’ll explore the differences between durian and jackfruit, and provide an overview of their physical characteristics, flavor and aroma profiles, nutritional composition, culinary uses, and cultivation. Knowing how they differ will help you appreciate and distinguish between these unique fruits.
- Shape and size: Durian is generally round to oblong in form, and it can vary in size, ranging from small (about the size of a grapefruit) to large (up to the size of a melon).
- Texture and appearance: The durian’s outer shell is covered with sharp, spikey thorns. The fruit reveals several segments or pods, each containing edible flesh. The meat is pale yellow to cream-colored, creamy, and often custard-like.
- Shape and size: Jackfruit is the largest fruit that grows on a tree and reaches impressive heights. It typically has an oval or oblong shape and weighs up to 80 pounds (36 kilograms).
- Texture and appearance: Jackfruit’s outer skin is green and covered with small, blunt spines or bumps. When cut open, the fruit contains numerous fleshy, fibrous, and edible bulbs that are pale yellow to orange.
Durian is recognized for its spiky exterior and creamy yellow flesh. In contrast, jackfruit is known for its large size, green skin, and fibrous bulbs.
Flavor and aroma
- Strong and distinctive smell: Durian is notorious for its strong and spicy aroma, often described as a mix of sweet, savory, and slightly rotten notes. The scent can be overpowering and divisive; some people find it unpleasant.
- Creamy and custard-like taste: Despite its pungent smell, durian has a rich and creamy flavor often likened to custard or a blend of sweet flavors. The taste can vary depending on the variety, but it is generally sweet with hints of bitterness and a buttery texture.
- Mild and sweet aroma: Jackfruit has a soft and sweet aroma, often compared to pineapple and banana. The scent is pleasant and inviting.
- Sweet and fruity taste: Jackfruit’s flavor is sweet and fruity, with notes of mango, pineapple, and banana. The taste becomes more pronounced and endearing as the fruit ripens. The flesh texture is fibrous, similar to pulled pork or chicken.
Both fruits have distinct flavors and aromas, but, durian is known for its strong and unique smell. In contrast, jackfruit has a milder aroma with a sweet and fruity taste. Individuals prefer these flavors and aromas.
- Calories, carbohydrates, and fats: Durian is a calorie-dense fruit with approximately 367 calories per 100 grams. It is relatively high in carbohydrates, primarily in the form of natural sugars, and contains a moderate amount of fat.
- Fiber, vitamins, and minerals: Durian is an excellent source of dietary fiber, providing about 3.8 grams per 100 grams. It is also rich in vitamins such as vitamin C and B complex and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and copper.
- Calories, carbohydrates, and fats: Jackfruit is a relatively low-calorie fruit, with around 94 calories per 100 grams. It is high in carbohydrates, mainly from natural sugars, and has little fat.
- Fiber, vitamins, and minerals: Jackfruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber, offering about 1.5 grams per 100 grams. It is also rich in vitamins, including vitamins C and A, and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Both durian and jackfruit provide essential nutrients but have differences in their nutritional composition. Durian is higher in calories and carbohydrates, and jackfruit is lower in calories and higher in fiber.
Fruits offer vitamins and minerals beneficial for overall health, but the nutritional values may vary slightly depending on the specific variety and ripeness of the fruit.
- Eaten fresh or used in desserts: Durian is often enjoyed fresh, with the flesh scooped out and consumed as is. It is also commonly used in desserts such as ice creams, custards, cakes, and pastries. The creamy texture and distinct durian flavor make it a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian sweet treats.
- Ingredients in various dishes: In some Southeast Asian cuisines, durian is incorporated into savory dishes like curries, soups, and rice-based meals. Durian’s unique flavor adds depth and complexity to these dishes.
- Eat ripe or unripe: Ripe jackfruit is often consumed as fruit. The sweet and juicy flesh can be enjoyed fresh or added to fruit salads and smoothies. Unripe or young jackfruit has a milder flavor and is commonly used as a meat substitute in vegetarian and vegan dishes.
- Vegan meat substitute: Young jackfruit’s fibrous texture makes it a popular plant-based alternative to meat. It can be cooked and shredded to resemble pulled pork or used as a filling in sandwiches, tacos, stir-fries, and curries. Its neutral taste absorbs seasonings and sauces.
Durian and jackfruit versatile enough for many culinary uses. Durian is consumed fresh or used in desserts and can be incorporated into savory dishes. Jackfruit can be enjoyed as a ripe fruit, but its unripe form is widely used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cooking. This is thanks to its fibrous texture.
Cultivation and availability
- Native to Southeast Asia: Durian is native to Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It has been cultivated in these regions for centuries.
- Grown in tropical regions: Durian thrives in warm and humid climates due to its tropical nature. It is primarily grown in countries within the equatorial belt, including Southeast Asian nations, parts of South Asia, and some regions in Australia and South America.
- Native to South Asia: Jackfruit is native to South Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It has been cultivated in these regions for thousands of years.
- Grown in tropical and subtropical regions: Jackfruit is well-suited to tropical and subtropical climates. It is cultivated in various countries across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, where conditions support its growth.
Both durian and jackfruit have specific regions where they are native and have been cultivated for a long time. For example, durian is found in Southeast Asia, while jackfruit is native to South Asia.
In addition, however, both fruits are grown in several tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Depending on import and export regulations, this provides broader availability on local and even international markets.
Durian and jackfruit share some similarities, they are different fruits with notable differences. Durian is known for its pungent odor, prickly exterior, and custard-like, creamy flesh with a unique flavor often described as sweet, savory, and slightly onion-like.
On the other hand, jackfruit has a milder aroma, a large size, and a fibrous texture. Its flavor is sweet and fruity, resembling a combination of pineapple, banana, and mango.
Additionally, durian is higher in fat and calories than jackfruit, while jackfruit is higher in carbohydrates and fiber. Both fruits have devoted fan bases and are used in various culinary applications, but they offer distinct taste experiences and nutritional profiles.