The star fruit or carambola is a tropical fruit that is gaining popularity in the United States. This fruit acquired its name from the five pointed star shape when cut across the middle of the fruit. It has a waxy, golden yellow to green color skin with a complicated flavor combination that includes plums, pineapples, and lemons.
Originally from Sri Lanka and the Moluccas, and cultivated in Southeast Asia and Malaysia for several hundred years, this fruit also goes by many other names including: bilimbi, belimbing, Chinese star fruit, five-angled fruit and the star apple. Today, star fruit flourishes in south Florida and Hawaii because the fruit thrives on growing in a warm environment. Two types of star fruit are grown, tart and sweet. Tart varieties typically have narrowly spaced ribs, while sweet varieties tend to have thick, fleshy ribs. The tastes between the two are hardly distinguishable, as the tart variety still has some sweetness. This tropical fruit is readily available July through February.
Select firm, shiny skinned, even colored fruit. Star fruits will ripen at room temperature and have lightly brown edges on the ribs when it’s ripe. Avoid purchasing star fruit with brown, shriveled ribs. This delicious fruit is also available dried.
Non-ripe star fruit should be turned often, until they are yellow in color and ripe with light brown ribs. Store ripe star fruits at room temperature for two to three days or unwashed, and refrigerated, in a plastic bag for up to one week.
Star fruits are great to eat out of hand as these tropical delights do not need to be peeled or seeded before eating. Simply wash the fruit, remove any blemished areas, cut crosswise to get the star shape, and eat!