What Is Starfruit - Carambola | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures What Is Starfruit - Carambola | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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TIP OF THE DAY: Starfruit (Carambola)

Don’t pass up the opportunity to decorate your food with starfruit this season. These “edible stars” can be used just about everywhere:

  • A garnish on anything from drinks to desserts
  • As a “star” ingredient in fruit salad
  • On fruit or cheese skewers
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    They pair with savory as well as sweet foods, and are a lovely decoration on platters and plates.
     
     
    WHAT IS STARFRUIT

    Starfruit or carambola (star fruit is an alternate spelling) is the fruit of a species of tree (Averrhoa carambola) native to southeast Asia.

    Starfruit was brought back home by sailors and traders in the late 1700s, and became popular with wealthy Europeans.

    It was brought to Hawaii by Chinese traders in the late 1800s. Yet, it was introduced to mainland America—Florida—only about 75 years ago. Today, Florida is the largest producer of American-consumed starfruit.

    The tree is also cultivated throughout the subtropical belt, including Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These are the fruits that are sold in the U.S., as a result of import restrictions due to potential pests that often accompany the fruit.

    Named for the five-pointed star shaped slices it yields when cut horizontally, the pale yellow, juicy flesh with a distinctly tropical orange-pineapple flavor contains a few small, flat seeds.

    Not only is starfruit attractive; it’s healthful, too. Starfruit is rich in vitamin C antioxidants and low in sugar and acid (though it should not be consumed by people with kidney problems).

    The fruit is nicely crunchy like an apple. The thin, edible skin, is lime green on the tree and ripens to a bright yellow, shiny/waxy sheen.
     
    The flesh retains a firmness when ripe, and therein lies a challenge:

     


    [1] Starfruit is an exotic, subtropical fruit that slices into star-shape pieces (photo © Melissa’s Produce).


    [2] Make every drink and dish a “star” with
    starfruit (photo © Beatriz Chaim | SXC).

     
    Starfruit has so much more flavor and sweetness when it is allowed to ripen on the tree. Much of what is available outside Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico has been picked green. It just isn’t the same.

    So when you’re there during the season, seek them out.

  • The harvest season is generally from June through February, with peaks during August through September and December through February.
  • Usually there are a few fruits available throughout the year.
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    TYPES OF STARFRUIT

    There are two main types of starfruit—sweet and tart—so you may have to ask the produce manager to clarify which type you’re looking at.

  • While both varieties are fine for garnish, most people prefer to eat the sweet variety.
  • Sweet varieties will be golden yellow and have a fragrant aroma.
  • Tart varieties tend to have thinner ribs and are often a more pale yellow color. You may also come across a rare white variety, which is sweet.
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