Starfruit (Averrhoa carambola) is an unusual and delicious fruit. It has a flavor that can remind you of anything from pears to plums. When cut in slices, this fruit exposes its most famous feature, a five-point star. It is known by other names such as kamranga and star apple. This wonderful fruit is crunchy and has an edible, waxy skin ranging in color from light green to golden yellow. Star fruit is a good source of vitamin C, low in fat, and sodium and cholesterol free. This native of Asia comes in two different varieties: sweet and tart. Visual differences between the two varieties can be found in the ribs. Tart varieties have narrowly spaced ribs while sweet varieties tend to have thick, fleshy ribs.
Growing star fruit is relatively easy. You can grow this subtropical fruit successfully in USDA zones 9 to 11. Star fruit has been successfully grown both in-ground and container. You should provide container plants should with plenty of sun and evenly moist soil. Plants grown in-ground can usually be grown with less sunlight. Star fruit is a frost sensitive plant, so when grown in locations below zone 8 one should exercise caution on planting location. Make sure that you are able to provide frost protection of some kind. This exotic tree is densely branched and is a member of the arboreal family. Furthermore, pollinators, such as bees, increase the crop of star fruit considerably. There are many different cultivars available and careful consideration should be given to your numerous options. The most common way to purchase a star fruit plant is by grafted tree, but you can also grow them from seed. Keep in mind that seeds lose viability quickly so they should not be stored for any extended period of time.
Preparing star fruit is easy! At the store, make sure to select fruit that is firm with even coloring. Fruit can be left to ripen on the kitchen counter, but it is ideal to let fruit ripen on the tree when able. One way you can tell if a star fruit is ripe is by looking at the ribs. Ribs tend to be a light brown when ripe. You can add star fruit slices to salads or even drink as juice. Also, this lovely fruit does not need to be peeled or de-seeded prior to eating. Just wash, make sure to remove any blemishes, and enjoy!
On a medical note, this fruit should be eaten with caution when an individual has kidney issues as it may change the effectiveness of kidney function.
Footnotes: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Oxford Journals. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation. "Intoxication by star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) in 32 uraemic patients: treatment and outcome". (2003).
(Editor's Note; This article was originally published on February 12, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)