The fruit of the deciduous carambola tree is called a star fruit. It earned the name because the ribbed fruit resembles a yellow star once sliced. Star fruit is a tropical plant native to Asia, central America and the tropical areas of South America. Carambola is now grown in some of the warmer, more tropical areas of the United States such as Florida and Hawaii. Knowing when your star fruit is properly ripe allows you to pick it for the table when the flavor is the sweetest and the fruit looks its best.
Start checking the fruit for ripeness in mid-summer. Harvesting occurs primarily from mid-summer to late fall.
Wait for the green to fade completely to yellow and the skin to become waxy in appearance. Give the fruit a slight tug; it will easily slip from the tree once fully ripe.
Pick fruits early when they are still light green with only a slight bit of yellowing beginning, if desired. Store these inside where they naturally ripen on their own.
Store still green fruits for up to four weeks in the refrigerator or two weeks at room temperature. Use fully ripe star fruit immediately.
- Preserve star fruit by canning it or drying it in a food dehydrator.
- A single carambola tree may produce 100 to 250 pounds of fruit.
- If you have kidney disease avoid eating star fruit. It has large amounts of oxalic acid which may cause renal failure.
- The ribs on star fruit are easily bruised. Take care not to put undue pressure on them while handling or storing.
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