Starfruit – Averrhoa carambola

Starfruit
Starfruit

 

I’d like to pluck a star out of the night,
peel away its rind, and sink my teeth
into the fruit flesh beneath its gleam –

 

By Gabriel Gadfly

This slow growing evergreen tree is believed to have originated in Ceylon and theMoluccas. It became a popularly cultivated fruit tree throughout India and Southeast Asia since prehistoric times. It was only established in the American tropics about 150 years ago. It was introduced to Florida somewhere before 1887; it is also grown in Hawaii. 

When my family and I first noticed this fruit, I was in the supermarket collecting fruit for a very large fruit salad that was being put together for a party. When we saw the starfruit it was intriguing, we bought two, one to taste when we got home, and one to garnish the top of the salad. So, when we got home I cut the peel off (didn’t know at first the peel itself is also edible) which was not so easy due to the shape and the tapers at each end. Then we sliced it, and cut it into small pieces…it was my 3 kids, 12 extra kids who were then residing with us, my husband and myself…lots of folk who wanted a taste. There were mixed results for texture and taste, but the overall feelings were still very intrigued.

 

It seems that the fruit is not the only edible part of this tree:

            Flowers: added to salads, make preserves

            Leaves: substitute for sorrel

 

But the fruit, that is the most popular part of the tree! It is enjoyed in Malaya, China and Taiwan, Queensland, Australia, Thailand, India, and Jamaica. They are candied, dried, boiled, and pickled. They are eaten fresh – out of hand, in salads or used as a garnish on avocado or seafood. They are cooked into puddings, tarts, stews, and curries. They are often combined with raisins or apples, or the spice cloves. They are canned in syrup for export and sale in stores, also. In the Philippines the fruit is made into a juice and used for seasoning, while in Hawaii they use the juice to makes a type of sherbet. In India the juice is used is bottled for sale year round.

 

In the herbal medicine of India the fresh fruit is eaten to halt hemorrhages, and for hemorrhoids; the dried fruit or juice has been used to treat fever; hangovers and diarrhea are treated with a conserve made of the fruit. A salve is used on eye infections which are made from the fruit. In Brazilian folk medicine it is used as a diuretic in urinary problems, and is used for eczema. In the Chinese it has been used to reduce fever, and relieve thirst. In other areas of Asia the flowers treat intestinal parasites, and the use of the root is considered an antidote to poison if it is combined with sugar.

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