A jackfruit tree
Penang’s iconic nutmeg
DURIANS from Penang are very popular and the best time to enjoy them is from June to August.
However, this year, the season has arrived later due to changes in the weather.
Many people visit durian farms in Teluk Bahang, Pantai Aceh and Balik Pulau, with the latter the most popular.
Most farms are closed to the public and the few that entertain visitors are eco-tourism orientated.
We were fortunate to be allowed into the Pondok Upeh durian farm, one of the several private orchards in Balik Pulau operated by the Loh family.
Loh led us up a narrow path hemmed by fruit trees and wild vegetation.
We saw many trees laden with durian.
Apart from over 200 durian trees, Loh also grows mangosteen, rambutan, dragonfruit, jackfruit, langsat and Penang’s iconic nutmeg.
The trail included some steep climbs, so we appreciated a short stop at Loh’s house before continuing on to the orchard located on higher ground.
Along the way, he told us about the various types of durians.
He said older trees planted 25 years ago produced higher quality fruit with a stronger aroma and flavour.
The flesh is thicker and creamier than fruit from younger trees.
When durians fall to the ground, the impact often cracks the fruit open.
To prevent this, nets are set up and the fruits tied to branches with string.
After the tour, we returned to Loh’s house to try several varieties that he had reserved for us.
These fruits dropped from the trees the night before and were collected as early as 5am.
The variety we sampled include the Hor Loh, Ang Heh and Chaer Phoy.
Each had its own flavour, ranging from sweet to bittersweet.
All were fleshy and finger-licking good!
The Hor Loh (Water Gourd) is very soft and creamy in texture.
This is a sweet durian.
The aromatic, orange-red flesh of the Ang Heh (Red Prawn) with its bittersweet taste is a favourite among durian lovers.
But it’s expensive.
The Chaer Phoy (Green Skin)’s pale yellow soft creamy flesh might not look appealing, but it’s very tasty, though a tad dry and only slightly sweet.
Loh’s mother makes durian kuih.
The 70-year-old woman spends hours to constantly stir the mixture to prevent it from getting burnt.
Made without preservatives, the kuih costs RM7 per roll.
From Loh’s house we can see the spectacular seaview and the township of Teluk Bahang.
The air here is much cooler, fresher and rejuvenating.
Call Loh before visiting as he might not have any durians for the day.
Most of the fruit are already allocated for sale to traders in the city and for visitors who have made special orders.
For those not familiar with the location, Loh will arrange for a guide to lead you to the farm.