Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Off The Beaten Path - Star Fruit

Over 20 years ago, I worked as an employee in the produce department at a major grocery store in my hometown of London, Ontario. Often, on the night shift, away from the watchful eye of management, a buffet of exotic fruit was to be had. One of my favourites was the Star Fruit. This yellow, psychedelic delight was too expensive for me at the time but the price was right in the back of the produce cooler.
It took me until now to rediscover the Star Fruit. It's still relatively expensive and sometimes hard to get, but it is still a damn good tasting fruit.
Star Fruit, also called Carambola, is believed to have originated in southeast Asia, specifically Sri Lanka. It has been cultivated in southeast Asia for hundreds of years. The fruit we get in North America is a variation called Golden Star and is grown in Florida, California, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
The fruit grows up to 5 inches in length and is generally yellow in colour. There are 5 distinct ribs so that when the fruit is sliced it forms the shape of a star. When picking one from the grocery store to eat, the edges of the ribs should be slightly brown but the fruit should not be spotted brown throughout.
Two taste comparisons I've read are 1. a mix between an apple and a grape and 2. a mix of papaya, orange and grapefruit. I see it simply as having it's own distinct flavour and not really comparable to anything. The best way to find out how one tastes is, of course, to try one out!
A serving (132g) of Star Fruit packs a punch of vitamin C, providing 76% of the normal daily value. It provides 15% of your daily fiber intake and has significant amounts of folate, pantothenic acid, potassium and copper.
There are warnings about Star Fruit, however. If you suffer from kidney failure, eating Star Fruit can prove to be a fatal mistake. Like the grapefruit, it contains oxalic acid which can lead to hiccups, vomiting and nausea in patients.
On the bright side, if you are taking medication for illnesses other than kidney failure, Star Fruit contains enzymes that will actually increase the effectiveness of the dosage inside the body.
Try Star Fruit raw. Try it in juices. Try baking it in pies, if you have that ability. My next experiment with Star Fruit will be as part of a tropical fruit salad with Dragon Fruit, Cantaloupe, Water Melon, Honey Dew, Pineapple, Grapes and Mango.

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