Have you tried Freeze Dried Durian yet? A surprising number of durian lovers haven’t. Maybe it seems too space agey, or hard to trust that it will take like real durian. Maybe you don’t know which brand to choose. Does one brand retain the duriany flavor better? Are they all the same? Who knows, so let’s try them all, or as many as we can at one sitting.
Why Freeze Dried Durian Is Crack For Lindsays
I find freeze dried durian really, really addicting. It’s a snackable form that makes the Aussie slang moreish make sense. I just keep eating one more piece.
Unlike frozen durian, which be mushy and slushy and just kind of…off… freeze dried durian is always sweet and funky and duriany, plus it’s crunchy.
Like any properly addictive food, it comes in a crinkly aluminum vacuum-sealed bag with too many servings and no obvious way to keep its contents from going stale except to consume all of it, all at once.
I know I have a problem. So when I decided to taste test 5 brands all at once, I asked for help from some durian loving friends. Not because I’m nice, but because I needed to save myself. Scroll down to see the video.
What and How Is Freeze Dried Durian?
Freeze drying was invented by the Inca at least 400 years ago. Relax, orthorexics and raw vegans. It’s all natural. Sorta.
Freeze drying would probably never happen to durian or other tropical fruits. It occurs naturally at high elevations (think Andes mountains), where a combination of low-atmospheric pressure and volatile temperatures cause a magical thing called sublimation to occur. This is when frozen ice turns directly into gas, bypassing the liquid stage of being water.
Incas would do this with potatoes, turning them into foamy, crunchy, styrofoam nuggets that are lightweight and great for hiking. They would simply leave the potatoes out over night, allowing the nighttime freezes and daytime thawing to essentially mummify the tubers.
Since most of us do not live at 10,000 feet, freeze drying is now done by machines like these ones I’ve seen at Sunshine Durian Factory, the place that makes the Fruit King brand freeze dried durian below.
You can also buy a smaller one for home use. Luckily they still cost several thousands dollars or I might actually consider acquiring one.
So that’s how freeze drying durian happens. It’s a fairly standardized process, but companies do find ways of making their own recipes.
Probably the biggest factor is the quality of the durian going into the machine. Is it ripe enough? Too ripe? Sweet enough? Tasty enough?
Did they cut it into big chunks or little chunks?
Just how crispy is the crunch?
Do the different brands taste different? I’ve now tested five of them, some multiple times. Here’s my full review with help from some friends.
Freeze Durian Taste Test #1
When I was in Hawaii, my friend Parisa (from the Thailand Durian Tour) mailed me 3 brands of freeze dried durian to share with my friend Megan Elizabeth and her crew. I had so much fun doing this video and I’m really thrilled to be a part of it. Plus we played a great prank on Ted.
All The Freeze Dried Durians
Here are all the durian brands included in the above video and where you can order them online.
Many (but not all) of the links on this page are affiliate links meaning that if you decide to make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission, which would be super awesome. Thank you for supporting this site!
Fruit King Brand
This was the first freeze dried durian I ever tasted back in 2012 when I visited Sunshine International’s packing house and freezing facilities in Chanthaburi, Thailand.
As I understand it, Sunshine was the very first durian company to invest in freeze drying machines, back in 2005, which probably makes them the first ones to make freeze dried durian in the whole world. I’m also a little biased, because Sunshine let me take my Durian Tour here last year to see the warehouse and freeze drying stuff.
I like their freeze dried durian, and I knew that before we started the taste test.
The durian pieces are irregular, and I like that they make them pretty large so someone like me has to snap through the crunch with my front teeth before slowly sucking on the rest until it dissolves into wet powder. The flavor is pretty strongly durian, and you can smell it as soon a you rip open the packaging.
My friends complained that they were actually too crunchy, or maybe too dense, like biting through a carrot vs. an apple. It was like the freeze dried durian pieces were lacking the little air pockets that softens a crunch and makes it break apart in your mouth. I’d agree, but I still like it.
Wel-B Freeze Dried Durian
This is one of the most widely available brands both online and in stores in Thailand. You can sometimes find it at 7-11’s and grocery stores and definitely at Thai health shops. I’ve always thought of it as kind of pricey, which makes sense as it’s the only brand we tried that’s definitely trying to be a health product.
The durian pieces were a lot smaller than Fruit King’s, irregularly chopped into bite sized nibbles or even smaller. Even though it was in a box, not a bag, some of the durian had disintegrated into dust.
I thought the flavor of this one was sweeter and milder, more cloying, and a little bit more vanilla without the oomph that I like so much durian. The texture was also softer and almost like soggy, but not actually wet. Do you know what I mean?
Trying WelB in comparison to Fruit King was proof that freeze dried durian brands do taste different, and I’d prefer Fruit King every time. But continuing on to the 3 other boxes…
Bhanvari Orchard’s Durian Sticks (เนื้อทุเรียนแท่งอบกรอบ)
This is the brand I was most curious about, because it’s different. I like different.
Whereas all of the other freeze dried durians stick to the lumpy, irregular shape of a durian pod, this one looked like it had been blended before freezing and poured out into little long, thin, rectangular molds so they look like some kind of cracker or steak fry or recognizable thing from my childhood.
The shape was so artificial it was both appealing and unappealing at the same time. Like, do I want the more natural but ugly-looking one? Or this delightful uniformity?
There’s something to what they’re doing. If the Fruit King brand was too crunchy, and the Well-B brand was not crunchy enough, this one was juuuust right. Blending it must have added air pockets that gave it a consistent snap and give that was just right. Plus the flavor was good too.
My Choice Thai Freeze Dried Durian
I picked this one up at the Tops Market in Thailand. It’s apparently some kind of subsidiary of the supermarket chain. At 100 grams, it’s the largest package and, I thought, the one with the classiest packaging.
According to the Tops website, My Choice Thai specializes in OTOP products, agricultural products promoted in order to support small farmers and give them a steady place to sell their fruits and vegetables.
Inside the box, you get two crinkly, aluminum bags. Unfortunately, the only thing I remember (since this was early June remember) is that one of those bags had a long black hair inside it. Watch the video above for tasting details. We still ate it.
Green Bio Tech/Good Brothers Musang King
I picked it up at a health food shop on Penang and carried it with me to Thailand to share with friends. I couldn’t wait to compare it to the Thai freeze dried durian. Let me tell you, after a day on an airplane it was hard to wait.
I still think it’s pretty funny that right on the packaging it says “Not Thailand Durian.” Just an extension of the durian snobbery war going on between the two countries.
Good Brothers Trading is an Organic, Vegetarian, and Health Food wholesale distributor that was started in 2001 affiliated with the Buddhist Light Association. What’s not to love about this brand?
Inside the package, the durian is chopped into pretty uniform cubes that were a darker tan color than the Thai durian, likely because Musang King itself is a really dark yellow durian. Disappointingly, I felt like it was less flavorful than some of the others. But I would get it again. Definitely.
Unfortunately this durian package doesn’t appear to be available for purchase online anywhere except their website. 🙁 sad emoji.
BONUS: Bhanvari Baked Not Fried Durian Chips
This isn’t a freeze dried durian. But it was very interesting.
I object to eating most durian chips because they’re fried. Deep deep fried. In god knows how old oil. I just don’t want to do it. But I like the way unripe durian tastes when it’s made into a chip. It’s sort of like a potato chip, but a little sweeter and starchier and just…really good.
This states on the front that there is no oil. The ingredients state only two ingredients: durian and salt. I don’t know how they did this, but I wanted an excuse to try it.
These are great. If you like potato chips but hate feeling oily, give these a go. They’re salty and a bit firmer than a potato chip (less air pocket crunch?) but they definitely fill that niche. I hope to see these becoming more available as a healthier alternative to durian chips.
When I started this project, I thought I was being over-the-top silly. Again. Just another excuse to feed my friends durian.
I thought, freeze dried durian is freeze dried durian, right? How different could they be?
I was surprised to find that the durian packets actually varied a lot in both flavor and texture. Some seemed more dense and crisper to bite, while others were more powdery or softer.
My favorite brand was Bhanvari Orchard’s Durian Sticks, followed by Fruit King. I thought Fruit King had the best flavor, but agreed with friends that the flavor/texture combo of the durian sticks was just amazing. They were like durian cheetos.
Have you tried any Freeze Dried Durian? Have a favorite brand? What should I try next?