Starfruit

August 27, 2012

starfruit

Starfruits are the sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, yellow star-shaped fruit of the tropical tree Averrhoa carambola.  They are native to the Philippines, India, and Southeast Asia, but they have since been introduced to the Caribbean, southern United States, and Central and South America.  They are also called carambolas.

As a “hand fruit,” the entire fruit is edible.  They are also made into chutneys, preserves, and juices.  Because their range of cultivation varies so widely, their complementary ingredients vary widely as well: Florida produces a sweet cultivar eaten as a hand fruit only; Indonesia eats unripe carambolas with rock salt; Thailand cooks them with shrimp; other locales in SE Asia stew starfruit with sugar and cloves.  Jamaica eats the fruit dried.

Different cultivars create a continuum of tastes from sour to sweet, but they share a taste that has been described as a combination of citrus and apple, pear, or grape.

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