Durian ice cream – a matter of love or hate

The Durian, hailed as the “King of Fruits”, is probably the world’s most divisive fruit.

Those of us who love it can passionately go on and on about its exquisite and unique taste, sumptuous butter-like texture and compelling fragrance. But those who don’t love it usually tend to hate it, being equally passionately ready to express their disgust by just about every aspect of the fruit, particularly its overpowering pungent odour smell.

The Durian grows on trees native to Southeast Asia, more specifically the regions of Borneo and Sumatra. Today, the popularity of the fruit has led to large-scale plantations in several other countries in the region such as Malaysia and Thailand, unfortunately with corresponding concerns about deforestation and other negative environmental impacts.

While some have accorded aphrodisiac qualities to the fruit, it is probably its unique flavour, texture and smell that has won over its many fans. But while Durian may be “an acquired taste”, it doesn’t really explain why some people simply can’t stand the fruit!

The fetid smell – which can change from fruit to fruit – is probably a large part of the reason. As you may have heard, a number of hotels and the subway in Singapore won’t allow you to bring Durian fruits with you! That said, the level of ripeness also plays in – even most fans tend to stay clear of overripe Durians.

Yes, signs like this one (from the Singapore subway) makes Durians look quite bad. However, most venues like hotels and transport companies probably have general rules asking you not to bring too smelly or otherwise obnoxious stuff prone to upset fellow customers.




However, those who defy the aroma and dare to give the fruit a chance may develop a life-long love for the fruit!  So put your negative prejudices on hold – you may be pleasantly surprised by the unique and butter-like consistency and a flavour quite unlike most anything else!


Durian ice cream in two different ways

Even in Asia, Durian fruits tend to be expensive. Getting hold of them in other parts of the world tend to be prohibitively expensive.

With no realistic hopes of ever getting hold of fresh fruit where I’m based, I opted for the (still expensive but) more accessible alternative: vacuum dehydrated fruit. Even a small bag was costly but its content would suffice for at least two precious batches.

Dehydrated Durian fruit – expensive but great for ice cream! While it certainly cannot compare with the beauty and shape(s) of the fresh fruit, the genuine Durian flavour is luckily carried forth (and the special butter-like consistency is well translated into the final ice cream)!

I can´t vouch for other fruit, but the dehydrated durian worked marvellously! Most importantly, it really carried the flavour forward. But it also had had other ice cream-.positive qualities: the dehydrated fruit contained no added water (always simplifies things in ice cream making) and the brittle pieces were easily crushed/pulverized and dispersed into the rest of the base.

First and easy version, or How to make it without an ice cream machine

Yes, you can make an excellent Durian ice cream even without an ice cream machine. Being on vacation and feeling the urge to make another batch to offer my brother (also a fan), I made an extremely simple version based on sweetened condensed milk and cream, possible to still-freeze in the household freezer.

Does it work? Yes! Those who tested were quite lyrical, so this is a perfectly solid option!

All you need to do is 1) whip some cream, 2) add the sweetened condensed milk, and 3) add the crushed/pulverized durian fruit. Stir it all, pour it into a container and put in your freezer (see the still-freeze instructions in the link above) until the ice cream finally has settled: that’s all!


Second and more custard-like version (with or without egg)

If you have an ice cream machine, this is the custard-like way I tried. “Custard-like”? Well, this ice cream can be made with or without eggs but the end result will in both cases be rather similar (and custard-like).

If you wish to go without eggs, follow my example and replace the eggs with a very small amount of Tara gum: a very versatile (and rather natural) stabiliser derived from the Peruvian Tara tree that will ensure a great consistency even in the absence of eggs ;-). Tara gum does not require very high temperatures to trigger the stabilising qualities – very practical!

Start by crushing/pulverizing the dehydrated fruit. Fragile as the pieces are, this should be really easy – use a mortar or a gavel!

Now choose between using Tara gum (and no eggs), or egg yolks (and no Tara gum).

If using Tara gum, mix the miniscule amount you’ll need with some sugar: this to avoid the gum lumping together when mixed into the liquid rest of the base later.

Tara gum – a very small quantity goes a long way.





If using, mixing stabilisers like the Tara gum with some sugar is a very good way of avoiding lumping.


Now, let us mix the custard(like) base: if you use the Tara gum, whisk the tara/sugar mix together with the rest of the base (the milk, the cream, the vanilla and the rest of the sugar(s)).  Add the crushed/pulverized durian fruit and bring to the so-called Nappe stage (approximately in the 82-84º C /180-183ºF-bracket. Mind you – since there is no need to pasteurise any eggs here, you’d strictly speaking only need to go up to about 80º C /176º F to fully activate the Tara gum’s stabilising qualities)

Not using Tara gum? Just add the alternative egg yolks to the rest of the base and – while whisking regularly – bring it all to the Nappe stage!

The base on its way to the Nappe stage (or slightly lower than that, if using the Tara gum)


Once the base has reached its desired temperature, take off from the stove and let cool down.


The base, now ready to cool down and chill.


Once cooled down, put the base in the fridge to chill for a few hours or over night before churning it in your ice cream machine.


Churning about to finish



A glorious and highly divisive ice cream


Freshly churned Durian ice cream


Have you tried Durian fruit before and love it, I think it is safe to say that you also will love this Durian ice cream!

Have you tried Durian before and disliked it, the odds might be worse.

In my household, I seem to be the only one who loves Durian. While I loved the ice cream, I’m sad to report that other family members found it utterly disgusting :-/

(But I should also add that one of my nephews – otherwise not overly keen on Durian fruit – considered the Durian ice cream much tastier than the fruit itself: a positive review that warmed my Durian-loving heart 🙂 )

Luckily, we are still many who deeply cherish this peculiar fruit and its unique flavour. Might you be one of us?

If you have not tried Durian before, I hope you will keep an open mind and try what probably must be one of the most unique and divisive flavours existing!

Durian ice cream (dehydrated fruit-style)
The tropical Durian fruit leaves no-one unaffected. The same goes for this Durian ice cream, passionately loved or hated (depending on where you stand on Durian itself).
  • 350 ml (scant 1,5 cup) milk
  • 350 ml (scant 1,5 cup) cream
  • 240 ml (about 1 cup) sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons inverted sugar (corn syrup, glucose or their likes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • about 35 gram dehydrated Durian fruit
  • About 6 gram (about 1 teaspoon) Tara gum (alternatively 5 egg yolks)
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 500 ml (about 2.1 cups) cream (moderately whipped)
  • about 30 gram dehydrated Durian fruit, crushed/pulverized
  1. Start by crushing /pulverizing the dehydrated pieces of fruit.
  1. Mix the cream, the milk, the sugar(s) and the vanilla in a sauce pan (if using Tara gum, mix it with some of the sugar before adding it. If using egg yolks instead, add them with the rest of the ingredients).
  2. Add the crushed/pulverized fruit to the rest of the base.
  3. While whisking regularly, bring the mix to the so-called Nappe stage (approximately in the 82-84º C /180-183ºF-bracket. If not using egg yolks but Tara gum, it is sufficient if you bring the base to about 80º C /176º F)..
  4. Once done, take off from the stove and let cool down, then chill for a few hours or preferably over night.
  5. Churn in your ice cream machine.
  6. Enjoy fresh or pour into a freezer-safe container, cover with plastic film and put in the freezer.
  1. Whip the cream and combine with the sweetened condensed milk.
  2. Add the crushed/pulverized fruit and blend well.
  3. Pour into a freezer-safe container and put in your household freezer.
  4. For best results, still-freeze by checking on your ice cream every other hour or so for the first hours of freezing and then whish around with a fork or similar: this to even out the freezing, add some air to the ice cream and improve the final result..

Durian ice cream – now firmed up after some time in the freezer.

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