Fruit of the Month: Starfruit
Starfruit, also known as carambola, grows throughout Southeast Asia, the south Pacific and Latin America. If you’ve never tried it, the flavor combines both sweet and tart notes reminiscent of apples, pineapples and even lemons. When I lived in the U.S., starfruit appeared in my supermarket once every few months. I always bought several to feast on, despite their hefty price. The waxy, golden fruits were crunchy, sweet and mild – a delicious flavor combination.
Costa Ricans prefer the fruit slightly green, which produces a tart and crunchy flesh. They are available throughout the year, but are most prevalent from June - October, and cost about $1 per pound. The first time I bought starfruit (Averrhoa carambola) at my local farmers’ market, I was surprised. I had purchased a two-pound bag, oblivious to the fact that the fruit was faintly green, rather than golden. Here, the most common preparation is as a fresh fruit drink, and so the fruit is sold slightly unripe to produce a more robust juice.
Starfruit will ripen at room temperature and develop brown lines on the edges of the fruit when they are ready to eat. Even when yellow and perfectly ripened, carambola has tart undertones. Not only is this starry fruit delicious, it is an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Starfruit is also low in calories, sodium, acid and sugar, making it an ideal snack for anyone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Fresh starfruit slices add a unique touch of flavor and texture to salads; add starfruit to your morning smoothie or try this refreshing natural juice:
1 whole starfruit
1 to 1 ½ cups water, depending on your preference
1 lemon or lime, juiced
Sugar, to taste
Remove brown spots from the fruit and slice it up, removing any seeds and leaving the skin intact. Add starfruit, water and citrus juice to the blender. Blend until smooth. Add sugar to taste. Strain if desired and enjoy!
Starfruit and Avocado Salad
Cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cubed
2 starfruits, thinly sliced
Arrange lettuce, tomatoes and red onion on four salad plates. Top with slices of avocado and starfruit. Drizzle with a mild vinaigrette.