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Durian Vs Jackfruit: What’s The Difference?

Durian trees and jackfruit trees may be very different, but there’s often a lot of confusion about the fruit they bear. You’ll find them both in Asian markets. They’re both tropical fruits. But the distinct differences in the durian vs jackfruit debate are pretty pronounced.

Both jackfruit and durian originate in Asia. Both jackfruit and durian fruit are highly sought after worldwide, and they thrive in similar climates. Some of you reading this now may be well aware of the difference, for instance, in the scent given by either fruit. But to someone who is just now seeing them side-by-side, they may be confused as to what is what. 

Yes, the fruits look similar, but there are plenty of other differences between them as well. Beyond botanical differences, the durian fruit has a much different place in culinary delights than that of jackfruit. Let’s cover what these fruits are, and how they diverge. That way you can decide which one you want to grow or use in your kitchen. 

What is Durian?

Unripe durians
Durian has a spiky rind and a distinctive smell. Source: ElCapitan

The durian tree is a tropical tree that can reach up to 165 feet tall. The evergreen tree produces sharp, bumpy fruit that some people love and some people hate. In certain parts of the world, the fruit of the durian tree is banned in markets and public transportation due to its overpowering pungent smell. It’s eaten raw, pureed, or cooked into various dishes. 

The edible pulp of the durian tree has a pungent taste just like the durian smell. The average durian size is 2 to 7 pounds in weight. This may be one clue to the differences between jackfruit and durian. The name ‘durian’ comes from the Malay word for thorn. 

What is Jackfruit?

Cluster of jackfruit
Jackfruit is also spiky, but is massive in size and isn’t pungently aromatic. Source: functoruser

The jackfruit tree also grows a tropical fruit that is known and loved across the world. The jackfruit tree itself grows up to 66 feet tall and remains green all year round. Jackfruits also have a thorny rind, and ripe jackfruit can emit latex that is difficult to wash off hands and clothing. 

Ripe jackfruit is used in tropical fruit salads. Raw jackfruit is also cooked and used as a meat substitute. Jack fruit is the largest fruit in the world, weighing an average of up to 55 pounds per fruit. People sometimes say the fruit inside the rind smells like the yellow gum, Juicy Fruit, a bubble gum that is well-known in North America. 

What’s the Difference?

Durian vs jackfruit
Durian Vs Jackfruit: How can you tell these apart?

While we’ve touched on some of the differences in the jackfruit versus durian debate, let’s examine those divergences more closely. That way we can settle the remaining questions that arise when we think about jackfruit vs durian.  

Botanical Structure

The jackfruit tree trunk has a diameter of 12 to 31 inches. The thick, glossy leaves are about 6 to 8 inches long, and the tree grows up to 66 feet tall. The durian tree, as we’ve discussed in the last section, grows up to 165 feet tall. The trunk diameter is roughly 60 inches. The leaves are also glossy and dark green, but they look more like coffee leaves than that of the jackfruit tree. In addition, while the jackfruit tree contains latex in all parts of the tree, the durian does not. The overall natural tree shape is different too. While jackfruit has a semi-circular structure, durian tends toward a more pyramidic shape.

Another contrasting element in our discussion of jackfruit vs durian lies in the botanical structure of each tree’s flowers. Jackfruit flowers are yellow to peach in color, while durian flowers are white to red. They pollinate differently (which we will discuss a bit later), and have divergent botanical formations. The flowers of jackfruit versus durian don’t just reveal color variations. The durian flower nods, with petals that droop downward, whereas the jackfruit flower has fleshy, upright petals that grow directly from the trunk of the tree. 

Fruit structure is probably the most divergent aspect in the deliberation of jackfruit vs durian. While both have bumpy skin and require that gardeners wear gloves to handle them, one notable difference is their size. Jackfruit is the largest fruit in the world, averaging out at 55 pounds per fruit, whereas durian fruit doesn’t usually get bigger than 7 pounds each. As we mentioned before, jackfruit contains latex, and durian does not. The unripe durian tastes rich and bittersweet. Jackfruit pulp tastes like a cross between a banana, mango, and pineapple. The jackfruit smell is musky and fruity, while durian fruit is known for its intense odor. Some say durian smells like sweet cheese, while others say it’s more like rotting onions. 

Growth Habits

Jackfruit tree
The jackfruit tree produces immense tropical fruit. Source: UweBKK

The two fruits have differences in terms of their origins and the ecosystems they exist in. Both prefer a tropical environment. But whereas jackfruit enjoys humid lowlands in Southern India, durian prefers the rainforests of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Durian needs rich soil, and jackfruit can do without as long as the ground is loamy and well-draining. Jackfruit is also part of the mulberry family, and durian is part of the mallow family. Jackfruit prefers hotter environments than durian fruit. Compare durian’s ideal temperature of 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit with jackfruit’s high heat tolerance, up to 120 degrees. 

Jackfruit trees live to be 100 years old while durian trees live for twice that amount – sometimes multiple centuries. The flowers cluster together and produce fruit on branches, while those of jackfruit grow in clusters directly on the trunk. Durian fruits contain a single inch-long oval seed that is viable for only a few days after the fruit is harvested. Jackfruit seeds are much more plentiful and can be grown up to a month after the jackfruit meat is harvested. Jackfruit has large seeds that are shaped much like sunflower seeds. It’s important to plant durian seeds as soon as possible. With jackfruit, you can take more time. 

The flowers on a durian plant are either male or female, and require cross-pollination for the development of edible fruit. Jackfruit doesn’t require cross-pollination because the trees bloom both male and female flowers. Up to this point, it looks like growing jackfruit is a tad easier than growing durian fruits. It takes roughly 3 to 4 years for jackfruit to produce fruits. Durian trees can take up to ten years to develop edible fruits. Jackfruit and durian have different seasonal timings as well. Durian produces one crop per year, and jackfruit produces 2 crops over an entire season. 

Agriculture

Typical large-scale growing operations differ, which is why we’re covering them in this discussion of jackfruit vs durian. While jackfruit is not grown commercially as widely in Malaysia, where its most popular, durian is. Jackfruit is often grown along roadsides in India. Durian fruits are produced on small hectare-sized farms where they’re grown with trees that produce other fruits. Jackfruit and durian are both primarily produced in India, but don’t let this similarity fool you. Jackfruit is a much more profitable crop than durian, mostly due to the variety of culinary uses for jackfruit. 

Commercial Uses

Durian fruit
In some markets, the sale of durian is banned due to its aroma. Source: douglemoine

We mentioned earlier that durian is banned from some markets due to its overpowering scent. Jackfruit doesn’t have the same problem, because its smell isn’t offensive in and of itself. Jackfruit and durian can be found in the same markets, though for different reasons. Aside from the edible portion of the fruits, there are other ways the plant is used. Jackfruit wood is used to make furniture and musical instruments, such as the udaki, which is a drum made from jackfruit wood and goatskin. Durian plants don’t have the same utilization as jackfruit plants do. 

Another big commercial difference in durian vs jackfruit is the use of jackfruit as a meat substitute. The unripe jackfruit has a stringy texture that simulates pulled pork, thus it’s an excellent substitute for meats in that format. Durian, with its rotten onion smell and taste, doesn’t have the diversity that jackfruit does in the meat substitute department. 

Thailand and Malaysia produce 90% of the world’s durian fruits. India produces the most jackfruit. As a result, jackfruit and durian have different commercial values when it comes to which nations produce them. 

Nutrition

The edible flesh of the jackfruit is a healthy snack! And the nutritional value of durian is high as well. Durian nutrition varies from jackfruit in that it contains more B vitamins, making it an energy-dense fruit. Jackfruit nutrition involves higher counts of Vitamin A, E, B5, and B6. Durian is also much higher in dietary fiber and Vitamin C than jackfruit is, which means it is a more nutrient-rich fruit. Compared to jackfruit’s 46% Vitamin C content, durian’s 66% content makes it a better source overall. 

Both have multiple and differing health benefits. Durian is great for treating high blood pressure because it’s lower in saturated fat. It’s also lower on the glycemic index, making it safer for people with diabetes. 

Medicinally, the two fruits are used in different ways. Durian is used in combatting obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and may improve issues with digestion, insomnia, high blood pressure, and depression and anxiety. Jackfruit has different applications at different times. When the jackfruit is unripe, its carotenoid levels are lower. But when the jackfruit turns yellow and becomes ripened jackfruit, it’s a great source of antioxidants, which fight cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration. 

Culinary Uses

If you want to know about the differences of any fruit, their culinary uses will clue you in most of all. Not only is the jackfruit taste more of a sweet taste than durian, but it’s also more versatile. People eat jackfruit in sweet and salty dishes. Green jackfruit is more commonly used in soups, salads, and as a meat substitute. Ripe jackfruit tastes sweet and goes well in fruit salads or the pulp is blended into ice cream. Possibly my favorite use of jackfruit involved taking the soft mushy fruit inside the fruit pods and mixing it with cream and other tropical fruits. Delectable!

When it comes to durian, taste is more nuanced and complex than even the best-tasting jackfruit. While the unique flavor of durian is used in sweet dishes, it has an undertone that is a bit salty. Some say it tastes like scrambled eggs, but the pulp inside the thorny casing has so many uses. People throw durian in sticky rice dishes or blend it into ice cream. Unripe durians are odorless and tasteless and are sometimes made into chips and breads. They’re often eaten fresh and ripe too.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What smells worse: durian or jackfruit?

A: Durian smells much more strongly than jackfruit. Some people think it smells like rotten eggs, while others say it smells like rotting flesh or sewage. Still more think it smells like Limburger cheese. A limited number of people truly enjoy and appreciate the smell.


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