carambola, or the joys of living in a starfruit universe

by Heguiberto on March 27, 2012

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one mouth-watering slice of star fruit

one mouth-watering slice of starfruit

I never gave too much thought to starfruit, or carambola, as it is called elsewhere outside English speaking countries in the western world. I only got drawn to it after a trip Steven and I took to Brazil together several years ago. On a visit to the State of Espirito Santo our friend and host surprised us every morning with delicious freshly made unusual tropical fruit juices. Some unusual even to me because though I am from Brazil, food culture varies widely from region to region, just like in the U. S. Some fruits produced in the northern states never reach the south where I grew up. One of these our friend, Luiz, used to make the morning juice: carambola!

Steven was ecstatic when he saw the huge bag of starfruit being triturated in the blender that first morning. At the time we were living in NYC. A single piece of “exotic” carambola at our favorite gourmet shop, Balducci’s, probably cost 5 bucks. And there was our friend with at least two dozen, happily and somewhat mundanely making them all into juice! It was fun thinking we were drinking a pitcher of fruit juice that would probably cost over a hundred dollars back home. What a glamorous life!

my whole star fruit from 99 Ranch Market standing on end

my whole star fruit from 99 Ranch Market standing on end

I think that for a fruit to be delicious, it doesn’t necessarily have to come in bold flavors. And this is certainly the case with starfruit. It has a waxy skin with a crunchy texture. Steven believes it has an apple-like texture with a totally different flavor. That flavor is mild: faintly light, juicy, sweet and tart, subtly redolent of watermelon, passion fruit, apple, grape, pineapple and pear, individually or all combined. It’s great to eat just as-is, but you can also add it to salads, use it to creatively garnish desserts (think Independence Day), and of course, if you’re in Brazil and/or have a carambola tree in your backyard, or better yet, have a lot of money to burn, juice it!

Carambola originally comes from Southwest Asia and was brought to the Americas over 100 years ago. It has very few calories, and is a good source of potassium. Learn more about it here.

carambola side view

carambola side view

The other day after watching hang-gliders in Fort Funston we went shopping at an Asian supermarket in Daly City, 99 Ranch Market. I found the biggest starfruit I’ve ever seen there. It probably weighed a whole pound! It looked so gorgeous I had to get it. We ate this carambola as a snack while cooking dinner. It tasted exactly like Brazil. I can’t wait to go back for more. Carambola, you truly are a star.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

OysterCulture March 31, 2012 at 6:31 pm

What a yummy fruit – I confess to only having it a few times, but I need to try it again as I suspect the fruit I had was not ripe. Your breakfast drink sounds divine and very indulgent at $100/pitcher. =)
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Magic of Spice April 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Wow, that is one huge starfruit! I adore them and can find them at the markets now and again…need to pick some up, and hopefully make some juice, not at the price your friends did…luxurious indeed!
Magic of Spice recently posted..What’s for lunch? Pear, Plum, Citrus and Red Onion SaladMy Profile

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