What is star fruit?

What is star fruit? At an upscale restaurant, my plate was garnished with a star-shaped food. I was told it is called star fruit. What is star fruit? Is it edible?

The carambola, botanically known as Averrhoa carambola L., is native to the Orient despite the Spanish sound of its name. It is often called a star fruit because of the shape of the slices when cut horizontally.

The star fruit has five lobes covered in an edible waxy yellow skin. The flavor of the yellow flesh is reminiscent of citrus fruit and varies from quite sour to mildly sweet, depending upon the variety. Some contain small dark seeds in the center.

Carambolas are now a fledgling commercial crop with most being grown in Florida. Prime harvesting season is from late summer to early winter, although some will bear fruit year-round in tropical moderate locations. Those with tinges of green on the lobes may be further ripened at room temperature.

Due to their popularity as a garnish, star fruit is now being sold in many specialty produce markets as well as larger chain grocery stores.

Fresh carambolas are often eaten out of hand like most fruits, as well as in salads, although the most popular use by far in the U.S. is for garnishing. Try substituting star fruit for citrus in both savory and sweet recipes.


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