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What is Black Thorn Durian? Eating Ochee 黑刺 in Singapore

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Black Thorn (Ochee 黑刺 in Hokkien) originally from Bukit Mertajam (state of Penang) is one of the most sought after durian cultivars now. The cultivar won Penang state's best durian competition in 2012, 2013, 2014 and many more years country wide. Demand is high while supply is still limited, so it is now one of the most expensive durians in the market.

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Its thick golden yellow flesh is moist, soft, smooth and light - almost fluffy like whipped cream, except for a little bit of fibre from the thin soft membrane wrapping the meat. The dominant flavour is sweet with a bit of slow trailing bitterness - together Black Thorn's sweet bitter taste won it many fans who are willing to pay more than Mao Shan Wang durian price for it.
 Fragrance or durian smell is not pungent.

Quality varies widely depending on the age of the graft. The best and oldest grafts are over thirty years old from the Sungai Jawi area in Bukit Mertajam of Penang state. From Sungai Jawi, the Black Thorn grafts spread to Penang Island (e.g. Balik Pulau) and Pahang state (e.g. Raub).

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Our 2 kilo Black Thorn durian had four seeds with slightly wrinkly membrane outside. The shell (husk) and core were thick (especially the core which had a yellow "heart" or crack). Each chamber had only one seed. (Our Black Thorn today had an empty chamber 🤔 ) 
At $18 per kilo, it worked out to be nearly $9 per seed.

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The pulp wrapping the seed is thick and meaty, though the seed itself is also quite large.

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Truth be told, the durian trade still has bad apples who brazenly cheat customers with fake premium durians. Priced higher than even Mao Shan Wang durian, it is even more important to know how to identify a Black Thorn. 

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Fortunately, Black Thorn durian literally has a dry, wilted "thorn" at its base. It is actually the remnant of the durian flower (the pistil). This fragile, shrivelled "thorn" falls off easily during the fall from the tree or during transportation, so even real Black Thorn durians sometimes don't have this "thorn". (Note: Every cultivar of durian have this pistil but they all fall off as the fruit matures.)

Black Thorn durian also have other identifying features but I feel these are harder for most of us (novices) to use as other cultivars share some of these same features too. Moreover, even durians from the same tree vary slightly.

Generally, Black Thorn is roundish and roughly the size of a bowling ball. Most weigh about 2 kilo (though the bigger ones can go up to 3 - 4 kilo). The base of the fruit is slightly flat. The thorns are sharp and dense, olive greenish in colour with a subtle brownish tone outside. (I know, this sounds like every other durian and isn't helpful 🤷 )

If you are getting Black Thorn, the key feature to look out for is this signature "thorn". Inside, there's also a yellow colour "crack" in the thick core. I would further suggest making doubly sure by getting premium durians only from dealers whom have earned your trust.

Next, I want to try a Black Thorn in Sungai Jawi and update this post.

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In Singapore, I get my premium durians from Durian 36 in Geylang 👈 click


Written by Tony Boey on 19 Jun 2022

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