This guide to star fruit (alternatively, starfruit; carambola) features tips on how to buy, prep, & enjoy this unusual fruit. You’ll find easy ideas on ways to use star fruit, as well as links to recipes.
Star fruit is a beautiful golden-yellow tropical Asian fruit. It has a unique five-point shape that resembles a star when sliced in cross-section, hence its name.
The fruit is native to Sri Lanka and Moluccas (known as Indonesia’s Spice Islands) and is now also grown in Florida, Hawaii, Southeast Asia, and Malaysia.
Star fruit has a waxy edible skin and grape-like firm flesh with subtle sweet and sour undertones. You can enjoy this fruit in many ways — slice and eat it just as is; bake it into star fruit chips; or add it to fruit salad for an exotic accent.
A caveat: Those with kidney issues should avoid the fruit completely, as it contains a high amount of oxalates purported to have adverse effects and even toxicity, known as star fruit poisoning. Get more information here.
The following information and tips are adapted from Melissa’s Great Book of Produce and Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce, both by Cathy Thomas, reprinted with permission of Melissa’s Produce.
How does star fruit look and taste?
Five deep, lengthwise pleats form stars when this waxy-skinned yellow or yellowish-green fruit is sliced. The flesh is translucent, moderately juicy, and crisp.
Its flavor varies according to time of harvest and variety. It can be fragrantly sweet or wake-up tart. The taste is part grape, part plum, with a little crisp green apple thrown into the flavor mix.
Star fruit nutrition
This fruit is a vitamin C standout, and has a notable amount of fiber. It also contains modest amounts of Vitamin B5, folate, copper, and potassium. Here’s a complete nutrient profile of star fruit.
Buying and storing star fruit
There are two types of star fruit: domestic, grown in Florida, and global, from Taiwan. Some fruit is also grown, as mentioned earlier, in Hawaii, Southeast Asia, and Malaysia.
The domestic fruit is generally smaller and greenish-yellow. Fruit grown in Taiwan is about twice as large, deep yellow, and generally sweeter. Edible seeds inside the flesh are small and tender.
The fruit is ripe when it’s completely yellow, though a hint of green is fine.
Look for firm fruit with a pleasant, flowery scent. Avoid fruit that is blemished or has soft spots. Store at room temperature until fully ripe and deep yellow. Refrigerate ripe fruit for 1 to 2 weeks.
Available domestically and globally year-round. Look for star fruit at produce markets and well-stocked supermarkets. If you can’t find them locally, order online from sources like Melissa’s Produce.
Prepping star fruit, and general use
Wash with cold water. Skin is edible, but it sometimes is tough at the tips. If the tips of ridges are brown or black, scrape them down with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Slice horizontally to reveal the star shapes.
Star fruit is usually eaten raw, but the sliced fruit can be briefly simmered in a simple syrup or quickly sautéed in stir-fries.
Sliced fruit makes a lovely star-shaped garnish for sweet and savory dishes. It’s a showy addition to fruit salads of all sorts. Puréed, it can be used in sweets sauces, jams, or sorbets.
Star fruit recipes and serving suggestions
Smoothies: Star fruit is delicious in combination with other fruits to make refreshing smoothies. Make sure to save a few slices to garnish the edges of your glasses! Start with Starfruit Mango Smoothie.
Smoothie bowls: Perhaps even better than smoothies, starfruit is a lovely addition to smoothie bowls, where you can enjoy its full visual effect (that is, until you eat it). Strawberry Star Fruit Smoothie bowl is just one example (replace the Greek yogurt with vegan yogurt if you avoid dairy).
Beautiful fruit skewers: Alternate thick slices of star fruit on skewers with chunks of common and exotic fruits, including bananas, pineapple. melons, kiwi, mangos, strawberries, blackberries, large blueberries, grapes, dragon fruit, Buddha’s hand, etc. It’s an eye-popping dessert that everyone will love!
Tropical fruit salad: Combined sliced star fruit with other tropical fruits and melons for a gorgeous fruit salad that needs little else to make it look and taste dazzling. See some of the same suggestions as for the fruit skewers, above.
Salsa dipper: Use 1/4-inch-thick slices as a base for appetizers, such as a sweet-spicy mango salsa.
Cocktail or cocktail pizzazz: Use star fruit as a cocktail garnish. Make a shallow slit in a 1/4-inch thick slices and gently insert onto the rims of cocktail glasses.
Tart and pie topper: Use a combination of sliced star fruit and berries to garnish individual tarts or full pies, once they’re baked and cooled.
Sweet (and sometimes spicy) spreads: Star fruit lends itself to use in making jams, jellies, marmalades, and chutneys. You’ll need plenty of fruit (and often, a lot of sugar) to make these kinds of preserves. Look for recipes online.
Upside-down cake: Line your prepped cake pan with sliced star fruit, pour your favorite cake batter over them and bake as usual. when cool, invert onto a plate and admire before digging in!
Dehydrated stars: Dry thin slices of star fruit (once soaked in a simple syrup) in a slow oven for a crispy snack. This is also a good way to extend the life of the fruit is you somehow find yourself with a plethora of it. Here’s a recipe for Star Fruit Chips.
- See our roundup of 12 Unusual and Exotic Fruits to Try at Least Once.
- See more of this site’s Good Food Guides.
Melissa’s Great Book of Produce and Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce (both by Cathy Thomas) are available wherever books are sold.
All photos: Bigstock