Chances are you may have no idea what the most stinkiest fruits are in the world. If you like to travel, you may have been close enough to get a whiff of them in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Hawaii or other tropical places. These tropical fruits stink so bad when ripe that people react to them as if they’ve smelled the most disagreeable stink of their lives.
Since I live on a farm, I am used to smelling all kinds of funky things. It has made me realize that everything in life can’t always smell nice. I have learned to accept bad smells and it is my choice how I choose to react to them.
The top five stinkiest fruits in the world are: Durian, Champedek, Pedalai, Marang and Jackfruit.
In Thailand, you are not allowed to enter your hotel room, or go on a bus carrying these fruits from the market. In Hawaii, one rarely can find these fruits at the market because of the onslaught of complaints from customers and neighbors.
Some people say they smell like petrochemicals, rotting onions, turpentine, garlic and a gas leak. As a farmer, I can say they do not smell like the manure of any typical farm animal I know.
Even though they all have a distinct and obnoxious odor, they actually smell good depending on whether you like the fruit or not.
All of these fruits grow on my farm and I am a big fan of all of them. That doesn’t mean that sometimes their smell doesn’t get to me.
The durian, is the most unusual fruit in the world. It is savory and sweet. It can often taste like onions, garlic, and/or maple syrup. The flesh can be smooth like custard, stringy or cottage cheese-like in texture or a combination of all three. The most seasoned durian lovers like the stinkiest, most strong-flavored ones. If you’re a novice, better stick with the sweeter variety, like Sitebel. The hard, prickly shell must be pried open from the bottom and the creamy pods can then be accessed.
This is not a fruit for everyone. Some people never like it, and for some it takes a while to warm up to it. Yet people love it so much, they are willing to spend up to $40 to have one at $4-5 a pound in Hawaii.
The Champedek is very much like a jackfruit, if you are familiar with the more popular fruit. It has a central core, where the fruit pods grow. It differs from the jackfruit in that it doesn’t have all those sticky little fingers throughout. You can open a fruit and literally grab the stem and lift it out of its shell with fruit attached. To tell if a fruit is ripe on the tree, you must put your nose to it and you will begin to smell a very strong petrochemical smell. The fruit is stringy and cannot be bitten in two, you must place it whole in your mouth pushing out the seed as you do so. It is very rich, sweet and juicy. Many people can only eat one or two pods.
These fruits can go for $16 each at $2.00 a pound in Hawaii.
A pedalai is a softball-sized, hairy fruit with pods of sweet creamy butter-like fruit that melts in your mouth. Easy to tear open with just your hands. The fruit smells like gasoline. Similar to a champedek in its seed and core presentation.
These fruits grow at the end of a branch in a large canopy tree. On our farm, each tree is 90 feet tall. If you can’t reach them to pick them, they will eventually fall in a splattered mess. Sometimes all you can do is imagine what one would taste like when you see it at the top of that 90 foot tree.
Hard to find, they are usually prices around $5-10 each.
The marang is very similar to a pedalai. But instead of the hairy-like rind, it has a short, sand paper-like rind. They smell just as bad as the pedalai but perhaps not as odorous as the champedek and the durian.
Very much the same texture as a padalai. It has a different taste, both are delicious. Hard to describe but very banana-like in flavor. These are also hard to find and can be priced anywhere from $5-$10 each in Hawaii. Look for soft rind with patches of green mixed with brown and a smell.
A Jackfruit is the fruit that tastes just like juicy fruit gum. It is the largest tree-produced fruit in the world. We have a tree that grows fruit up to 70 pounds each. The best way to tell when they are ripe is to just stand under and tree and take a deep whiff. You’ll soon be able to pinpoint if there is a ripe one. Jackfruits have a bigger core that when cut leaks a latex sap. Each fruit must be cut off unless your fruit is very ripe. Your knife, your hands and whatever comes in contact with the fruit will have to be cleaned with cooking oil –not soap and water.
Jackfruits can be sold whole, halfed and sometimes by pod. Usually, they go for .50 cents to $1 a pound whole. One marketable fruit can cost $10-20.
All of the five stinkiest fruits you can boil and eat their seeds. Jackfruit is one of the most popular and in some areas of the world it is more prized than the fruit. You can read about how to prepare and eat jackfruit seeds in my blog, “Eating Jackfruit Seeds”.
If you ever have the opportunity to smell and taste one of these five fruits, I urge you to do so. It may be dangerous however, because you may find that you like them so much you might have to move closer to them.