Star fruit (Averrhoa carambola), also known as Carambolla, when sliced horizontally, each slice looks like a golden star. Their genus name is in honor of Averrhoes, an Arabian physician and philosopher of the twelfth century. The common name carambola is from the Sanskrit, meaning “food appetizer.” They are native to Indonesia, and now grown in Florida.
Star Fruit is a member of the Oxalidaceae (Wood Sorrel) family. Star fruits are cooling and can taste from sweet to sour. They help clear excess heat from the body and are a yin tonic, detoxifying and diuretic. They are used to treat arthritis pain, cough, diarrhea, fever, hangover, hemorrhoids, hiccups, indigestion, kidney and bladder stones, mouth sores, and toothache. They are a source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium.
Look for even colored firm fruits without brown spots. Allow ripening at room temperature, and when their fruity aroma and golden yellow color manifests, they can be refrigerated for up to a week. Eat by themselves, in salads, desserts, sherbets, as a garnish (great for the winter holidays), in jams, puddings, chutneys, to float in punch bowls, or juiced.
The leaves are applied topically as a poultice to treat swellings and injuries. Star fruit juice has been used to remove stains from linens and for polishing brass.