In addition to durian, Davao City is well known for another spiky, orb like fruit; marang. It's one of those fruits that westerners often confused with durian (like jackfruit), but it's a closer relative to breadfruit. Marang has a distinct sweet odor and like durian is not allowed in airports, as Rob and I found out when we tried to leave Davao.
Marang is a perfectly round or oblong fruit covered in a network of outward facing hairs that feel and act like velcro, sticking to cloth and ripping plastic bags. When ripe, the soft hairs peel away revealing a mass of seeds encased in pure white flesh clumped around the center core much the way corn sticks to the cob. In the Philippines, marang is often paired with durian as its juicier counterpart and is the Filipino "Queen of Fruit" since mangosteen ripens at a different time of year.
The last time Rob and I visited Davao, we were so fixated on mangoes and durian that we tried only one marang. Silly us, we didn't even purchase a ripe one and tried to hack it open using a knife. A ripe marang requires only the light touch of the fingers. Our Filipino house mates just laughed when they saw our massacred attempts at slicing open the underripe starch ball.
This time around, I'm making up for lost time in the marang department. Marang has an amazing floral aroma and a flavor much akin to Cherimoya or Rollinia, two of my top 10 favorite fruits. I would describe it as strawberries and pineapple mixed with cream, and very juicy. It's no surprise then that marang is now my very favorite fruit! I'm even having a hard time caring about durian when its juicy cousin is around.
Marang is native to Borneo and Palawan and is widely grown throughout the Philippines. I haven't seen it anywhere else in Asia. The season for Marang is September-October with another peak in December. Prices vary from 25 pesos for a small 1 kilo fruit to 50 pesos for a large 3 kilo. There are several varieties with exteriors ranging in color from nearly neon green to yellow to red-brown. So far I haven't noticed any correlation between exterior color and interior quality, although locals have assured me that the light green "Evergreen" variety is the best.
The nutritional content of marang is a bit hard to find as its not a well known fruit outside of the Philippines or those few fruit-obsessed circles. According to fruitipedia.com, the edible portion of the fruit is only 24-33% by weight, the rest being composed of seeds, skin, and core. Per 100 grams of edible flesh (seeds removed), marang contains between 265-510 calories depending on sweetness and water content, which varies widely between varieties. Other fun nutritional facts:
- 65.7-84.2 grams of water
- 0.8-1.7 grams protein
- 2-3 grams of fat
- 32.4 grams of carbohydrate
Per 100 gram serving, Marang provides 17 mg calcium, 35 mg phosphorus, 2.1 mg iron, and 30 mg of Vitamin C.
Marang is normally consumed raw and fresh. It is extremely delicate and spoils easily, so that it is difficult to transport long distances. To support local farmers, researchers at the University of Southern Mindanao have created ways to cook and preserve the fruit and its seeds, which are traditionally boiled or roasted. I find the idea of cooking marang to be a bit of a travesty because its just so damn good on its own, but if it encourages farmers to grow more marang, cheers to it!
These recipes were taken from an article at www.agribusinessweek.com
1. Cook 1 cup flesh of mature, ripe marang fruit (seeds removed) with 1 cup white sugar until thick.
2. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to improve appearance and flavor.
3. Fill the jam into a jar.
4. Exhaust for 10 minutes then process for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
1. Cook 1 cup flesh of ripe marang fruit (seeds removed) with 1 cup white sugar until very thick.
2. Spread the mixture in wax paper and then roll it using a rolling pin to flatten the mixture to one half-inch thick.
3. Allow the mixture to cool then wrap it with cellophane and store in air-tight jars.
1. Choose seeds of fully ripe marang
2. Sort and sun dry
3. Toast until cooked.
4. Shell and grind coarsely
5. Caramelize water and sugar at 1:1 ratio.
6. Add the grounded seeds into the pan and cook further until thick and sticky
7. Spread while hot on a greasy tray or wooden surface and then flatten with rolling pin.
8. Cut it according to the desired number of pieces and thickness.
9. Wrap or store in jars.
1. Choose matured marang fruits.
2. Separate pulp.
3. Pass through a coarse sieve.
4. Cook in sugar.
5. Lemon juice or calamansi juice may be added while cooking to improve color and taste. Fill the mixture into jars and exhaust for 10 minutes then process for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Store in cool, dry place.
Marang Juice (from Concentrate)
1. Add three (3) tablespoons of concentrate to 1 cup water.
2. Mix thoroughly and serve cold.
Marang Seed Flour
1. Sort seeds and dry.
2. Toast until meat is cooked and then shell.
3. Grind thoroughly until fine texture results.
4. Pack in cellophane or jars.
5. Store in cool, dry place.
1. Extract juice from marang pulp by boiling for about 5 minutes and then strain to separate juice from pulp.
2. Add other fruits like pineapple or orange peel(sliced thinly)
3. Cook in sugar until it becomes transparent when suspended.
4. Fill the mixture into preserving jars and exhaust it first for 10 minutes before processing it for 45 minutes to 1 hour