Starfruit may not be the most well-known fruit, but I bet you can figure out what it looks like. Shaped like a star when sliced, it’s also called carambola and is native to Southeast Asia. Carambola trees produce yellow to lime green fruit with a waxy rind on the outside and a juicy pulp on the inside.
Carambolas can be sweet or tart, depending upon the variety. Arkin is a type of sweet variety, while Golden Star is a tart variety, commonly grown in Florida. The entire fruit is edible, including the rind, seeds and flesh. Even the sweet variety is not overly sweet, but tastes like a mixture of apples and grapes. Store carambolas at room temperature until ripened. It’s ready to eat just after most of the green color has disappeared and it’s turned golden yellow with possible brown edges formed on the ridges. Once ripened, store carambolas in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or freeze slices on a baking sheet until solid and then pack in freezer-safe plastic bags or containers for 10-12 months.
Because of its natural shape of a star and beautiful golden yellow color, starfruit makes a statement in most any dish. Surround other fresh fruit with a layer of carambolas for your next fruit tray, or add it to fresh salad greens. Cook carambolas to use in puddings, tarts, chutneys, stir-fries or curries. Rather than my favorite cake, pineapple upside-down cake, use starfruit for starfruit upside-down cake! Starfruit pairs well with spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, honey, chiles and five-spice powder. Carambolas are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. One cup of raw cubed carambola also has 4 grams of dietary fiber. If you find starfruit in your grocery store, give it a chance and bring it home; you’re expanding your palate and your food repertoire!
Carambola Fruit Salad (Printable PDF)
1 carambola, sliced and seeded with brown edges removed
1 orange, peeled and sliced
1 banana, peeled and sliced
Juice of 1 lime
Wash hands. In a medium bowl, lightly mix fruit with lime juice. Refrigerate and serve cold over lettuce leaves or as fruit cups.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 50 calories, 0 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 2.5 grams fiber, 1 gram protein
Source: University of Florida Extension
This blog post first appeared in The Pantagraph on September 16, 2020.