Glossary of Foods: Starfruit

Starfruit may look strange as you pass them in the grocery store — small, oblong shaped fruits [...]

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Starfruit may look strange as you pass them in the grocery store — small, oblong shaped fruits with deep ridges. But once sliced, the fruits have a fun star shape, hence the name, and are a delicious tropical treat.


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The starfruit, also known as carambola, is a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia. Popularized in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and Sri Lanka, the starfruit is now also grown in parts of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Known for its distinct shape, the starfruit typically has five long ridges that resemble a star when sliced. The entire fruit is edible and is often eaten out of hand, but it is also common in juice, relish, and preserves.

The two main types of starfruit include sweet and sour varieties. Sweet starfruit are usually larger while sours are smaller. The fruits are best eaten shortly after then ripen on the tree for the best flavor and sweetness. Ripe starfruit have a smooth yellow skin with only touches of green remaining. The edges of a ripe starfruit may also begin to turn brown. Overripe starfruit is a deeper yellow with large brown spots. If you purchase a green starfruit in the grocery, let it rest on the counter until the green color fades. This process will improve the texture of the fruit but not make it sweeter.

The flavor of a ripe starfruit has been compared to an apple, grape, and citrus fruit, and the texture is slightly crunchy. Before eating, thoroughly wash the waxy skin. Carefully remove the browned edges along the ridges. Then, slice thinly and enjoy.

Though the flavor of starfruit is very sweet, it's surprisingly very low in calories and sugar. A medium fruit, about four inches long, contains approximately 30 calories and only four grams of sugar! Starfruit also boasts high vitamin C and antioxidants. The fruit and its peel also contain a good amount of fiber. This fun fruit can be a guilt free, healthy snack!

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