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Mentega durians are large, oval to oblong fruits, averaging 20 to 30 centimeters in length, and are covered in angular, pyramid-shaped spikes. The broad spikes are found in variegated hues of green, brown, to gold, and at the bottom of the fruit, there is a prominent, flat, and spinless star-like shape with visible seams. Underneath the pointed surface, the rind has a fibrous, tough consistency that can be sliced or torn open to reveal thick, yellow-lobed flesh contained in multiple compartments, surrounded by a white, spongy pith. The flesh is smooth, slippery, and sticky with a soft, creamy, and melting consistency. There are also small, flattened seeds encased within each flesh lobe. Mentega durians have a distinct sulfuric scent with a very sweet flavor combined with subtle bitter notes.
Mentega durians are available in the summer.
Mentega durians, botanically a part of the Durio genus, are large, thick-fleshed fruits belonging to the Malvaceae family. The name Mentega translates from Indonesian to mean “butter,” and is a descriptor used to highlight the consistency of the smooth flesh. Mentega durians are also known as Musang King, Rajah Kunyit, Mao Shan Wang, Cat Mountain King, and D197, and are considered to be one of the most popular varieties of durian in Southeast Asia. The tropical fruits were first released in the late 20th century and are highly favored for their creamy texture, large size, and complex flavors. Mentega durians are also commercially cultivated for export and are frequently sold in China.
Mentega durians are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. The fruits are also a good source of vitamin B6, manganese, copper, iron, and potassium, and contain some magnesium, zinc, folate, and calcium.
Mentega durians are best suited for raw applications as their soft, buttery flesh, and sweet, subtly bitter flavor is showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The slippery, sticky flesh can be eaten immediately after removal from the fruit, or it can be blended into smoothies and added to sticky rice. Mentega durians can also be incorporated into a spread for use on crackers and bread, mixed with spices into a savory condiment, cooked into a filling for pastries, boiled with sugar and frozen to make ice cream, or canned in syrup. In Southeast Asia, durian is often used as a flavoring for custard fillings in bread and buns. To extend the fruit’s storage life, the flesh can be dried, preserved in salt, or thinly sliced when unripe and baked into chips. In addition to the flesh, durian seeds can be roasted, fried, or boiled and consumed similarly to a nut. Mentega durians pair well with coffee, coconut, mango, avocado, sugar cane, seaweed, and rice. Whole, unopened Mentega durians will keep for a couple of weeks when stored in a cool location. Once sliced, the flesh is best consumed immediately for optimal flavor and can be stored for an additional 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Durian flesh can also be frozen for up to two months.
In Lumajang, East Java, Mentega durians are a sought-after variety for their rich flavor and smooth flesh. The region is famous for its nutrient-dense soils due to Mount Semeru, an active volcano that is also considered one of the most popular hiking locations in Indonesia. In this region, Mentega durians are heavily guarded as they are maturing on the trees and some farmers even have twenty-four-hour security to protect the fruits from robbers and animals. The fruits drop from the tree when mature, and in peak season, 50 to 100 fruits can fall daily for sale in local markets. The residents of Lumajang also use Mentega durians as a form of food tourism. Durian stalls are built in local markets to attract the tourists visiting the region to hike Mount Semeru, and some farms offer tours where visitors can slice open and eat the fruits beside the trees. Besides tourists, Mentega durians are sold to locals as gifts to friends and family for special occasions, holidays, and celebrations.
Mentega durians are native to Malaysia, and experts heavily debate the exact history of the variety. Many experts attribute Mentega durians to Penang Island, where the variety was grown from a grafted branch of an unknown durian from Kelantan onto a kampung durian tree. The branch took over three years to produce fruits, and once established, the variety was named Rajah Kunyit, meaning “Turmeric King” in Malay in reference to its golden flesh. Mentega durians were officially registered under the name Raja Kunyit, or D197, in 1993 with the Malaysia Department of Agriculture. Since its introduction into commercial markets, many growers began cultivating Mentega durians for local and international exports, earning the variety a wide array of nicknames and local names, including Musang King. In modern-day, Mentega durians are widely cultivated throughout Malaysia, especially in Raub, Pahang, and Gua Musang, Kelantan, and are grown on a smaller scale in East Java, Indonesia, and Thailand. The fruits are also heavily exported into Singapore and China.