Carambola fruit is a wholly edible fruit that is quite popular in East Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia as well as Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The fruit has also become quite popular in the United States. It is grown in semi-tropical regions within the States such as South Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Commonly referred to as the "star fruit", the Carambola fruit has five or more ridges running down its sides; hence the resemblance to a star as inferred by its nickname.
Carambola fruits, unlike other tropical fruits can be eaten whole including the waxy skin that covers the fruit. The texture of the fruit has been compared to that of grapes in that the flesh is extremely juicy while still retaining its firmness. The exact taste of the Carambola is often disputed. People have their own opinion on how the Carambola fruit tastes. Some have stated that it is a mixture of both kiwi and pineapple while others claim that it tastes more like a mix of apple and pineapple. Still, others say its has the sweet-sour taste of all three.
The tree which produces the Carambola fruit is a relatively fast growing tree with a height of about 15 feet and a width of about the same when totally mature. As the tree has a short trunk and rather small dimensions, it is one of the best tropical fruit trees for situations where one has limited growing space. Individuals who would like to grow their tree in their home garden are advised to prune the tree to prevent it from growing too large. It should be noted that pruning does not affect the fruit bearing qualities of this tree.
When searching for Carambola fruit in the market, you should ideally pick fruits which are yellow with a light shade of green. This indicates that they are ripe. If the fruit has brown ridges and feels firm, it is a good indicator that it is ripe. You should avoid fruits with excessively brown spots as well as those with a spongy feel to them as these are overripe. Unripe fruits tend to be sour and have a taste similar to green apples.
Carambola fruits are known for their high concentration of antioxidants and phytochemicals which play an important role in eliminating free radicals from the body. Moreover, it is a great source of Vitamin C. The fruit also has low concentrations of Sodium and acid as well as a low sugar content making it a desirable fruit for dieters. Extracts from the Carambola fruit have also been identified to have antimicrobial properties.
Patients who have kidney failure are advised to refrain from eating Carambola fruit as it contains oxalic acid which may cause serious problems to these individuals. However, it is ideal for everyone else.