Starfruit or Carambola – you might not have heard of this one if you live in a northern climate. Florida is one of the states where it is grown in the U.S. and it is interesting that one man was responsible for the particular cultivar that is grown commercially and bears his name, Adkin. He was a backyard horticulturist and his work produced this really, tasty and lovely fruit.
Although this fruit is still relatively rare in many parts of the U.S., I read that it is common in other countries (the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Guam, Phillipines, China, Taiwan) and has been for hundreds of years. It has many names. The Starfruit name is descriptive of the sliced fruit, as you can see.
Starfruit is a little like grapefruit, in that is has substances, caramboxin and oxalic acid, that greatly affect the utilisation of certain medications. Caramboxin is actually a neurotoxin and should not be consumed by people who have kidney disease. For everyone else the low levels of caramboxin are not dangerous and the health benefits are considerable. Starfruit is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and potassium. It is low in sugar, sodium and acid and has significant antimicrobial activity.
They are ripe when all traces of green have gone and the ridges have turned slightly brown. Further ripening tends to make the fruit soggy and bland. The taste and texture have been described as having elements of grape, pear, citrus and apple. They are very juicy and somewhat tart, and even kind of crunchy. I know, it’s hard to imagine all that if you’ve never had them. My brother has some trees in south Florida and brought us a whole bag of starfruit last winter. I like them a lot. If you happen across them in your grocery, give them a try.