- Author: Ben Faber
What a gorgeous fruit. Slice it cross-wise and you have a star-shaped garnish for salad or cooked dish. But you need to find a buyer for it.
The star fruit, or carambola, is a member of the oxalis family. Only one other species is commonly cultivated for its fruit, the less esteemed, more frost sensitive Averrhoa bilimbi. The star fruit is native to Sri Lanka and popular throughout southeast Asia, India, southern China, New Zealand, and Australia. The tree is well adapted to a variety of tropical and subtropical climates and is now cultivated in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America and to a lesser extent, Israel. The main restricting factor in California is frost, the tree being about as cold hardy as limes. The golden-yellow fruit is 3 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches in width with an star shaped cross section. The thin skin, appears waxy but is edible. The sweet to acid flesh is juicy, crisp and mild flavored and usually eaten fresh. It makes an extremely attractive fresh or cooked garnish when cut to reveal its 5 or 6 pointed star cross section. It is also made into relishes and chutneys. The sourer varieties contain more oxalic acid and can be used for polishing brass and removing rust stains. The wood is used for furniture and construction. The fruit is used medicinally as a folk remedy for a large number of maladies including hangover.