Star Fruit

Star Fruit

Latin name: Averrhoa carambola
Other names: carambola
Uses: fruit, juice, preserve, pickling

Possibly one of the world’s prettiest fruits, star fruit derives its name from its unique five-pointed shape, apparent when sliced into cross sections. Though common in the tropics, varieties of this sour fruit — a berry, actually — have gained worldwide superstar superfood status in recent years. Good quality fruit is firm and glossy, with no brown discoloration on the skin, and crispy, juicy flesh.

Why is star fruit healthy?

One star fruit can have over half the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. For a fruit with a low-calorie count, it has relatively high amounts of fiber and has great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Caution: Starfruit is also a rich source of oxalic acid, which is harmful to people with kidney disease.

What does star fruit taste like?

With its waxy, cheery yellow color, and ridged ovoid shape, carambola looks more like an ornament than fruit. It is, however, completely edible, with crisp, very juicy sweet-sour flesh. Depending on cultivars, the aroma can vary widely — from apricot-peach-plum to pear to grape, with a stop at the citrus junction. If unripe, star fruit is almost inedibly mouth-puckeringly sour.

Where does star fruit grow?

Native to Southeast Asia, traders helped spread the fruit to Sri Lanka and the Indian subcontinent, where it is popular. It’s cultivated in tropical and subtropical climes around the world including China, Hawaii, Florida, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa.

How do I prepare star fruit and what do I pair it with?

Slice it into star-shaped pieces and consume it raw for maximum nutritional benefit. While carambola shines brightest in salads, it also adds tanginess to chutneys and soups. Sour fruit can be pickled, made into squash, or cooked down for jams and marmalades. Across East and Southeast Asia, star fruit adds texture and tartness to stir-fries and curries as well as pairing well with fish, chicken, and shrimp. In India, it’s a street food staple on carts heaped with coal-roasted sweet potato, providing a tart, crisp foil to the starchy tuber in shakarkandi ki chaat. Its fun shape makes the carambola a perfect garnish for drinks and cocktails. You can also dehydrate the fruit into crisps. The seeds are edible, though not particularly memorable.

Surprising fact:

Some acidic variants of carambola can be used to remove rust and tarnish from metals like brass.