Star Fruit (Carambola): How To Eat it and What it Tastes Like

Star fruit, also known as carambola, is a tropical fruit that is not only exotic in appearance but also offers a unique taste experience. Whether you are a fan of juicy fruits, as I am, or looking to explore something new, star fruit is worth adding to your culinary repertoire. In this article, we delve into how to eat star fruit and what it tastes like, tips for selecting and storing this tropical delight as well as star fruit recipe ideas.

Star Fruit Carambola
Star Fruit (Carambola)

First, What is a Star Fruit?

Star fruit, scientifically known as Averrhoa carambola, is a tropical fruit that is yellow in color and has a star-like shape when sliced.

The fruit is typically 2-6 inches (5-15cm) oval-shaped, with five to six distinct ridges running along its length. When sliced, the fruit delivers on its name as a star shape. As the fruit ripens, it changes from green to a yellow, golden or orange color. 

There are two main types of star fruit; a smaller sour one and a larger sweeter one. However, you are more likely to come across the larger sweet variety in your grocery store as they are favored for commercial use.

The origins of star fruit can be traced back to Southeast Asia, where it has been cultivated for centuries as a tropical delight. It grows on trees found in tropical regions such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and in the right conditions, it can produce fruit year-round. Star fruit is also grown domestically in Hawaii, Florida, and California and many countries around the world with tropical-like conditions.

Star Fruit Carambola on Tree
Star Fruit (Carambola) on the Tree

Star fruit has become a well-loved fruit worldwide for its delicious flavor and versatile uses. 

The distinct star-shaped appearance adds an element of whimsy to dishes and drinks, making star fruit a popular choice for garnishes and decorative purposes. 

What Does Star Fruit Taste Like?

Star fruit has a unique taste that is a mix between tart and sweet combining citrus fruits, apples, and grapes with a refreshing and tropical flavor. Some people also describe the taste as slightly sour, with a crisp and juicy texture similar to that of a cucumber. This may also be because star fruit comes in two main types; a smaller sour variety and a larger sweeter variety.

The fruit contains edible seeds that add a slight crunch to each bite, and the skin is edible.

Cut Slices of Star Fruit on a Board
Cut Slices of Star Fruit on a Board

One of the benefits of adding star fruit to fruit salads is the burst of freshness it brings to the mix. Its tropical flavor adds a unique twist to traditional fruit salad recipes.

When ripe, star fruit may exhibit brown coloring on the skin along the ridge lines, indicating its readiness to be consumed.

Tips for Buying, Storing, and Choosing Ripe Star Fruit

Star fruit can be purchased in many grocery stores, specialty markets, and Asian supermarkets or even online. 

When selecting star fruit, opt for fruits that are bright yellow in color, indicating ripeness. Another tip is to gently press the edges of the fruit to check for a slight softness, which indicates it is ready to eat.

Avoid fruits with dark brown spots or excessive blemishes, as these may signify overripeness. 

If the star fruit is not fully ripe, you can ripen it at room temperature for a few days until ripe, which is indicated by a bright yellow color and slightly soft texture.

Once ripe, store star fruit in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or container to help it stay fresh for longer, preserving its flavor and texture.

If you have already cut the star fruit, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent it from drying out. Avoid storing star fruit near strong-smelling foods, as they can absorb odors easily. Use the star fruit within a few days of cutting it to enjoy it at its freshest. 

How to Prepare and Eat Star Fruit

Cutting a Star Fruit
Cutting a Star Fruit

When it comes to enjoying star fruit, knowing how to properly cut and incorporate it into your meals is key. The entire star fruit is edible including the slightly waxy skin and the seeds. 

To cut a star fruit, start by washing the fruit thoroughly to ensure it is clean.

Next, slice the fruit crosswise to create star-shaped pieces that showcase its unique appearance.

Star fruit is most often enjoyed raw on its own, which is how I love to eat it, or in a fruit salad but you can also cook it. Star fruit is also juicy and can be made into a refreshing star fruit smoothie by blending ripe star fruit with other fruits like dragon fruit for a vibrant and nutritious drink.

Star fruit also pairs well with a variety of ingredients, why not try star fruit with one of these flavor combinations:

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, or limes
  • Tropical fruits, such as pineapple, mango, or coconut
  • Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries
  • Mint or basil for added freshness
  • Spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, or chili pepper
  • Honey or agave for added sweetness
  • Nuts, such as almonds or pistachios for added crunch
  • Dairy products, such as yogurt or cheese for a creamy contrast 

Star Fruit Recipe Ideas

Dragon Fruit Salad
Fruit Salad with Star Fruit

If you’re looking to turn the flavor up on your star fruit, have a look at these recipe ideas.

Star Fruit Salad

Combine sliced star fruit with other fresh fruits like strawberries, kiwi, and mango. Drizzle with a honey-lime dressing for a refreshing and colorful salad.

Or combine star fruit with savory salad ingredients like this recipe:

Grilled Star Fruit

 Brush star fruit slices with a mixture of honey, lime juice, and a pinch of cinnamon. Grill until caramelized and serve as a sweet and tangy side dish or dessert.

Star Fruit Salsa

 Dice star fruit and combine with diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice for a delicious and vibrant salsa. Serve with tortilla chips or grilled fish.

Or try one of these recipes:

Star Fruit Smoothie

Blend star fruit with banana, Greek yogurt, and coconut milk for a creamy and tropical smoothie. Add a handful of spinach or kale for an extra nutritional boost.

Or try one of these recipes:

Star Fruit Tart

Arrange thinly sliced star fruit on top of a puff pastry crust, sprinkle with brown sugar, and bake until golden and caramelized. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a decadent dessert.

Have a look at one of these delicious recipes:

Star Fruit Chutney

Cook star fruit with ginger, garlic, sugar, vinegar, and spices like cinnamon and cloves to make a tangy and sweet chutney. Serve with grilled chicken or pork for a flavorful twist.

Try one of these recipes:

Star Fruit Popsicles

Puree star fruit with coconut water and a splash of lime juice. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for a refreshing and healthy treat. Add diced strawberries or blueberries for extra flavor and color.

Check out this popsicle recipe:

Star Fruit Sorbet

Blend star fruit with simple syrup and a squeeze of lemon juice. Freeze in an ice cream maker until smooth and creamy. Serve as a light and refreshing dessert on a hot day. 

See yummy these recipes:

Further Reading: