In this article, we are exploring star fruit, how to cut it properly, and lots of other cool stuff about this masterpiece of Nature.
Let’s take a closer look at this engagingly shaped fruit, and see how to get the best out of its tropical flavor in our kitchens!
What is star fruit and where you can find it
Star fruit, also known as ‘Carambola’, is a yellowy orange tropical fruit with 5 or 6 distinctive ridges running down the sides. It’s common in places like Southeast Asia, the United States, and the Caribbean. The fruit has a sweet but mildly sour flavor.
You can purchase star fruit from local growers, from online retailers, or at large chain retailers. If you have difficulty finding it at your local shop you can also try Asian specialty outlets which are sure to stock it when it’s in season – star fruit season is June until February.
Choosing great quality star fruit
The best star fruit will be bright yellow in color. Green is not yet ripe, and orange is overripe. The flesh should be firm to the touch and slightly browned edges are acceptable. The best quality would be picked fresh off a carambola tree, but you can get good quality retail - just make sure that the skin is shiny or waxy in appearance, and smooth – not bumpy or scarred with damage from rough handling.
How to cut up star fruit
To cut up star fruit you’ll need a sharp paring knife and a steady chopping board. If your chopping board tends to slide around, put a damp tea towel under it to affix it in place.
- Firstly, wash the fruit well under running water, scrubbing with your fingers into the crevices so that you remove dust and dirt.
- Shake excess moisture off the fruit or dry with a clean cloth
- Optional – use the paring knife or a vegetable peeler to trim off the outer edges of the ribs/edges of the fruit
- You can peel star fruit if you absolutely must, but its shape makes peeling very tricky, it’s easier and time saving to eat it unpeeled
- Holding the fruit firmly in place on its side, slice off both ends of the fruit and discard these
- Next you will cut across the fruit width - wise, to your desired thickness. The fruit will be divided into star shaped slices. If you dislike the seeds, pick them out with the tip of the knife at this stage
- When sliced, your star fruit will look like this –
How to serve star fruit
Right, your star fruit is neatly sliced and you’re ready to go. Now what?
Star fruit is delicious eaten as is, raw and delicious. There are other ways you can use it though and here are some ideas:
- Juices and smoothies
- Tropical fruit salads
- Cooked into fruit pies or star fruit - based desserts
- As an addition to Asian and Indian stews and curries
- Star fruit is a good accompaniment to seafood and shellfish dishes
- Star fruit can be used in jams, jellies, chutneys and as a base for chili sauces
- Because of its star shaped slices, star fruit makes an exciting garnish for things like desserts and cocktails
Storing star fruit
If the fruit isn’t ripe, you should turn it every day to speed and even out the ripening. When ripe it will be yellow and maybe have light brown ribs along the edges.
Ripe fruit can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days or put unwashed into a plastic bag and stored in the fridge for around a week.
We recommend your refrigerator’s crisper drawer for best results!
Star fruit can also be stored frozen for use in smoothies etc. for two or three months without problems.
Cooking with star fruit
As it stays slightly crisp during cooking, star fruit is super delicious in Asian style stir fries and wok dishes. You could also use star fruit as a unique ingredient in an ‘upside down’ cake or as the base ingredient for a souffle or flan. Really, the star fruit is only limited by your imagination!
Here’s a simple recipe that you may like to try –
Baked Star Fruit – a zingy accompaniment to roasted meats or charcuterie boards
- 4 firm star fruit, washed and cut in half with the seeds removed
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Teaspoons lemon or lime juice
Preheat your oven to 325 F or 160 C. Sprinkle the star fruit halves with brown sugar and cinnamon and arrange in a buttered baking dish. Dot the star fruit with the butter, and sprinkle evenly with the lemon/lime juice. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the star fruit has softened.
Serve either hot with roasted meats, or at room temperature in a dish to have alongside a charcuterie board of cheeses and cured meats – the tart sweetness goes wonderfully with savory and salty snacks.
Star fruit health benefits
Star fruit is good for those trying to lose some weight, there’s roughly 30 calories only per fruit and it’s low in sugar. Also, the fruit is high in fiber if eaten unpeeled, which is good for the digestive system.
Other benefits include a high level of antioxidants, which are your friends fighting damage by free radicals. Star fruit has also been shown to help manage conditions like cardiovascular disease, low blood sugar, and cholesterol.
Star fruit – when to avoid eating it
Star fruit contains a lot of oxalic acid and caramboxin so it’s not suitable or safe for people with kidney disease because they can’t excrete these substances, leading to a buildup in the renal system.
If you have compromised kidneys or renal failure of any type, star fruit should be avoided. You should also consult with your doctor about other safe and healthy fruit and vegetable choices.
If you’re on prescription medication you should also avoid star fruit as it can interfere with the absorption of medications by the body.
Star fruit FAQs
Can I eat the star fruit skin?
Yes, every part of the star fruit is edible. You can remove the skin and seeds if you find them unpalatable, but they’re good sources of fiber and high in vitamins for optimal health which you wouldn’t want to waste.
Is star fruit safe to feed to my pets?
No. Even small quantities of star fruit can be harmful to pets as it has a high level of oxalate salts which decrease calcium in animal bodies. This leaching of calcium may cause kidney failure, which is life threatening, so never ever feed star fruit to your pets.
How do I freeze star fruit slices without the slices sticking together?
Slice your star fruit as you would to eat it fresh, and then place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet or other flat surface in the freezer. Once they have individually frozen, you can peel them off and store them in a freezer safe container without them sticking or clumping together.
Will star fruit stain my clothes or kitchen cloths?
No. Not only does star fruit NOT stain, but it is a good stain remover on cotton textiles! The acidic juice of star fruit is stain busting on cotton fabrics and can even be used to remove tarnish from metal.
Which varieties of star fruit are the best to buy?
If you’re looking for a sweeter star fruit, try to find the ‘Arkin’ variety. If tart flavor is more your thing, go for either ‘Thayer’ or ‘Newcombe’ varieties.
Star fruit is a unique and tasty addition to any table and is packed full of good things like vitamin C and antioxidants, it’s super for healthy living for most people. With our explanation of star fruit and a simple cutting guideline to get it chopped easily, you’re all set to use it in a variety of interesting ways!