Remember this guy, that I picked up at Whole Foods the other day?
It’s a STARFRUIT!
Vanessa, one of my Twitter followers who lives in Australia (do you follow me on Twitter? Go to my Contact page for the link!), started suggesting months ago that I try a starfruit, so I’ve been keeping my eye out at the store, but it wasn’t until this week that I saw one, held one in my hand, put it in my cart, and brought it home. This starfruit was imported from Taiwan – that’s a long journey for a piece of fruit – and cost me $2.15 (they were $4.99 a pound). I’ve read the best places to grow starfruit in the US are south Florida or Hawaii (I suppose they like a more wet, humid environment than southern California), but maybe they’re not in season in the U.S.
It’s not completely random, either, that the starfruit came all the way from southeast Asia – starfruit (which are also called carambola) are very popular there. They’re native to the Philippines, although they may have first been cultivated in Sri Lanka or Indonesia, and Malaysia is currently the world’s largest producer and exporter of starfruit. I’ll take my starfruit from wherever I can get it!
Here it is on my cutting board, getting to know Mr. Knife. The starfruit thinks they’ll be best friends, but Mr. Knife knows the starfruit’s destiny.
I looked around a little bit on the interweb, and found this helpful guide to starfruit consumption. Turns out it’s pretty easy to prepare and eat, so bonus points for the starfruit!
First I trimmed off the brown edges along the starfruit’s ridges:
Then I sliced off the end where the stem was attached:
Then I started cutting it into slices, and it turns out the fruit is aptly named, because each slice looks like… you guessed it… a star. Ta-da!
I love that picture of the starfruit slices on a plate – pretty! I should remember, next time I make a big fruit salad, to get a starfruit – a few slices would make a kick-ass garnish!
The entire starfruit is edible – there’s a thin skin, like an apple, and I did find one seed, about the size of a hulled sunflower seed, that I popped out.
Here’s the big question: What did it taste like?
It’s kinda crispy, like an good apple, but not as flavorful. The juice reminds me of watermelon juice – there’s a lot of it, and it’s on the watery side – like someone’s already taken the juice and watered it down before serving. As for the flavor itself, it’s pretty unique – slightly sour, like a lemon, and slightly sweet, like a pear/apple hybrid. I think the best comparison I can make is from when I was growing up, and my mom would cut up an apple for my lunch box, and dip the slices in lemon juice so they wouldn’t brown – and then, hours later, at lunch time, I could still taste the lemon, but it’s still very apple-like.
Nutrition-wise, starfruit are fantastic: A serving size, which is 100 grams, has 31 calories, and that entire starfruit weighted .43 pounds, and I ate the whole thing, so that works out to only 60 or so total calories! A serving size also has less than 7 grams of carbs (about 4 of which are sugars), and 1/3 of a gram of fat. They’re great sources of Vitamin C and a bunch of antioxidants. Oh, and here’s a fun fact: starfruit have oxalic acid, so don’t eat them if your kidneys are failing or are on dialysis, because if you do, you’re subject to “hiccups, vomiting, nausea, and mental confusion,” and, according to wikipedia, starfruit-based fatalities have been reported. Yikes!
So would I buy one again? Probably at some point, but I don’t think I’ll be racing through the produce section to find them. I didn’t dislike my starfruit, but I’m not swooning, either.
More importantly, I’m proud to add to my list of fruits and vegetables that I’ve tried for the first time! (You can see the list if you click on My Favorite Posts)
Keep it up, David!