All About the Starfruit

The starfruit, also known as carambola, got its name from the star-shape of the fruit when cut.

Description of the Fruit

The starfruit is native to Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. It is very common in portions of East Asia as well as throughout the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Micronesia. It grows well in tropical zones.

The fruit has five ridges along the side, which create the namesake star shape when you cut the fruit in a cross-section.

Changes to the Fruit Over Time

Experts believe that the starfruit first grew in Indonesia or Sri Lanka, but people throughout Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent have been growing it for years. There is also commercial cultivation in the southern U.S., portions of Africa, and several other areas. In some locations, cultivation of starfruit is purely ornamental instead of for consumption.

Experts have also created several cultivars in recent years, including specific types from Florida, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

Description of Taste

You can cut starfruit open and eat the inside. It is delicious when raw, or you can use it for relishes, juice, preserves, and in meals. Smaller starfruits tend to be sour or tart due to a higher content of oxalic acid, while larger versions are sweet. The flesh is juicy and firm.

Is It Used in Desserts?

Many desserts with starfruit have other fruits as well. These include curds, cakes, and tarts.

Pop Culture References

Many people suggest consuming starfruit for its vitamin C, potassium, niacin, copper, and dietary fiber content.

Other Uses

Some areas of the world grow starfruit just for its ornamental purposes thanks to the beauty of the fruit, leaves, and flowers. Some regions use the sour type of starfruit’s juice to clean tarnished or rusty metal, or for mordant in dyeing. Brazilian folk medicine also uses it as a cough suppressant, expectorant, and diuretic.