Star fruit (carambola): nutrition facts and health benefits

Star fruit

The star fruit is an exotic fruit from Southeast Asia, which reached the Antilles in the nineteenth century and is now cultivated in several countries (Australia, USA, Israel). This oblong fruit, about fifteen centimetres, which is made up of five salient ribs, has a yellow and transparent skin, crisp and tangy flesh. It is very decorative because once sliced, the carambol forms a star. A neighboring species, the Bilimbo, offering a smaller, less ribbed fruit, is often confused with the carombola. Two large varieties exist: the sweet and sour carombola.

More information about star fruit

Because it is very abundant on the island of Goa (India), the star fruit has earn the nickname “Goa’s apple”. A name it keeps in the West Indies and Malaysia. It is also called “Chinese Apple”, “star Fruit”, “Coromandel gooseberry ” or “Five Fingers”… Its Latin name, averrhoa carambola, is inspired by the name Averroes, doctor and Arab philosopher of the 12th century.

Native to the Malay Archipelago, the carambolas grow in clusters on the branches and, more curiously, on the trunk of the tree. The carambola tree is similar to the mimosa tree: its trunk is short and tortuous, its low branches and its foliage can rise from 5 meters to 12 meters in height. It grows in all tropical, hot and humid areas. This long life tree blooms and produces fruits all year round.

The star fruit is a highly ribbed fruit whose waxy skin encompasses a juicy, tangy and crispy delicate fragrance with a gooseberry taste. This pretty decorative fruit draws a five-pointed star when it is cut in the direction of the width, hence its nickname “starfruit”.

There are two types of carambola. The first, often from Brazil, is smaller and remains green at maturity. We make it a jam of very tart flavor and chutneys which, as in Asia, enter the preparation of sauces with curry. The second, whose light green skin becomes gilded at maturity, has a milder flavor.

The latter star fruit found on the exotic fruit stalls is imported all year round, mainly from Malaysia, Thailand, the United States, Brazil and, in a small amount, Israel.

Bilimbo belongs to the same botanical type as the carom. And if it has the appearance of a small yellow cucumber from 5 cm to 10 cm long, its skin is nevertheless covered in its length by five longitudinal angles. This fruit is so acid, it can only be consumed in jam, pickles or gravy.

The carambola brings an additional yellow color into the plates. It is consumed mostly raw or cooked in jam, jelly or compote.

– Simple and fast: can be used as a pickle, in condiment, with deli meats, or as an aperitif: a slice of carambola covered with a slate of cheese or ham, or spread with fresh cheese with herbs.

– Friendly: salmon tartare surrounded by a garland of a trenched carambola; Greek yogurt accompanied by a compote of carambola and topped of a filet of hot honey; Skewers of exotic fruit caramelized under the grill and outbreaks with rum.

– Festive: marinated chicken skewers served with a fruity chutney; Scallops with a julienne of endive and thin slices of carom. Toasted brioche covered with carambola jam: Wash a kilo of carambolas, cut them into thin strips, remove the heart. Put them in a saucepan with 400 g of red sugar and let stand 15 minutes. At the end of this time, add cinnamon, grated nutmeg, vanilla before cooking about 45 minutes until thickened.

Botanical

General

The carombola tree is a tropical tree from Asia, with long leaves composed, with pink flowers, and with very common fruits on exotic fruit stalls on the market: the carombola. The fruit is yellow and has 5 or 6 ribs. Once sliced, it has the shape of a star, hence its English vernacular name of “star fruit”.

Culture

The carambola tree requires less direct sunlight than other tropical fruit, and will be comfortable in semi shady exposure. Once grown, this tree can withstand very light gels, in the range of -1 °C to -2 °C. However, a young plant will generally not survive negative temperatures. This tree remains a tropical tree, and should be grown in warm climates. The carambola prefers a fresh, draining soil.

Flowering and pollination

The flowers are pink, and appear either in the armpit of the leaves or at the ends of the twigs.

Multiplication

The carombola is multiplied by sowing. The seeds are flat and brown in color.

The carambola for the health

This exotic fruit which you will find all year round on the market stalls have many benefits and a tangy taste. This fruit is also very easy to prepare but its consumption must remain reasonable.

Lightly sweetened and rich in vitamins A and C, the star fruit has many healthy virtues as long as you consume then raw. It will retain all its benefits. When you buy them, pay special attention to the color of the product. Often, in the fruit and vegetable aisle, the presented carambolas are yellow-green. Prefer those to the beautiful golden hue which is a sign of maturity. Make sure that they are not stained and they are well firm.

Precaution

Carom: A toxic fruit, to be consumed in moderation

If the fruit of the carambola is eatable, it is not less toxic from a certain quantity. The carambola contains a neurotoxin that is not filtered by the kidneys among people who suffer from renal failure.

Good to know: Many effects can warn of intoxication such as insomnia, vomiting, confusion … Cases of intoxication can be treated by hemofiltration.

The neurotoxin seems to be filtered correctly in healthy patients but it is still advisable to consume a small quantity of the carambola, for example a fruit all 2-days. No worries if you consume one of these beautiful five-pointed stars having crept in the decoration of the dish, you do not risk absolutely anything!

How to cook star fruit?

It is easily cooked. Unlike many of its exotic cousins, the carambola requires very little preparation. No need to peel it. Leave the peel. In fact, you simply have to pass it under the clear water, to dry it and then to cut it. Its taste is close to rhubarb.

Poultry (chicken), crustaceans (scallops), vegetables such as endive or fatty fish (salmon), as much food that is perfectly suited to the carambola. More surprising, serve it as a condiment with deli meats.

 

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