Hi I’m Julian Lara with the Tropical Fruit Growers South Florida; we’re an association of farmers that specialize in growing tropical fruits. Now you can find these fruits sometimes in the supermarket but you’ll be guaranteed to find them if you go to our website at www.TropicalFruitGrowers.com
Well today we will talk about carambolas. Now we’re in a carambola grove in The Redlands, an agricultural area southwest to Miami, Florida.
Carambola is also known as the star fruit because it’s shaped like a star obviously, especially when we cut it in slices, which we will do later on in the kitchen. They are native to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and they grow throughout the tropics and especially here in South Florida. We’ve been growing these since the 1880s and commercially we’ve been growing these since the 1960s.
Carambolas grow in a middle sized tree and the fruit grows along the branches, now just to show you the different grow stages of the carambola: we have the lavender colored carambola flower and over here we have the said fruit on the flower, and also we have the mature fruit hanging on the tree and also the ripe fruit, very ripe fruit hanging on the tree, it shows a beautiful orange and yellow color. Now let’s pick one and go inside the kitchen.
There’s 2 kinds of carambola, the sweet ones and the tart ones. 20 to 30 years ago you were only able to find the tart ones, but they were used for garnish and not really for eating. Over the years, in the past 25 years we’ve been introduced to a lot of sweet varieties like these.
When you look for them stay away from bruised ones like this and if you want to pick them when they are mature you can pick them when they’re this color with the yellow and the green with the green edges, and this will ripen within 2 to 5 days. If you want to eat them right now and you’re really hungry you can just pick them like this, when they’re nice orange and yellow with the green tips like this.
Carambolas can be eaten out of hand like an apple or they can be cut in cross-sections like this to get those stars that can be used in many different ways. People like to cut the edges off like this, but the edges are edible, the core’s edible, the seeds are edible even the thin waxy skin on here’s edible. It tastes very good, like sweet crunchy, juicy orange-apple. Star fruit is rich in antioxidants and loaded with vitamin C and they’re really low on sugar, and that’s the good sugar too.
Carambolas can be sliced and served in salads, added to stir-fry dishes or used in garnishes. They can be cooked in puddings, tarts, stews and curries. Slightly under-ripe fruits can still be salted, pickled or made into jams… and did I mention the star fruit makes a really good upside down cake?
Caramboles store well in a plastic bag and they’ll last about 1 or 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Now if you want to learn more about carambolas and you want to learn about some recipes and buy some fruit from one of our growers you can go to our website at www.TropicalFruitGrowers.com.