Walking through a Central Florida farmers market, I was struck by a huge overflowing basket of large, fresh, bright fruit. It was a mound of carambolas, also known as starfruit. I thought to myself, "I want to bite into one of those right now. They look so ripe and ready to eat."
Carambolas have been cultivated in Malaysia and Asia for centuries. Providing vitamin C, potassium and fiber, they are now grown domestically in the southern U.S. in places where the temperature typically doesn't drop below 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ripe carambolas average two to six inches long and are oval-shaped and smooth with an almost waxy feel. When you cut one open, the fruit is star-shaped and is nearly translucent yellow in color. Like watermelon, carambolas can be eaten out of your hand and are crisp and juicy — so have a napkin ready. The texture is reminiscent of grapes. You can eat the seeds too, if there are any.
If you purchase a carambola that is not fully ripe, it will slowly ripen on a kitchen counter. But enjoy it before it becomes overripe as it loses flavor and develops brown spots. Also, beware that consuming carambolas may be deadly for people with kidney issues.
5 Ways to Eat Carambolas
- Mix them into a tropical fruit salad with a little honey, fresh lime juice and lime zest.
- Float them in a fresh summer punch.
- Sauté them with chicken, shrimp or meat.
- Pickle them!
- Chop them and toss into chicken salad.