Thursday, October 21, 2010

Carambola Fruit

Florida is the number one producer of the carambola fruit a.k.a the star fruit.  Seeing as we have a carambola tree in the garden with blooms on it, I figured it would be fun for me to get to know my near future harvest a little better.
The Star Fruit originated in South East Asia and India and made it to the United States by way of Hawaii.  South Florida's tropical climate makes it the perfect place for a carambola to thrive. The star fruit has both a distinct shape and flavor.  In totality its shape is oval with ridges and it has a yellow-green color.  When sliced diagonally the fruit chunks become a star making it a fun and whimsical addition to salads, cocktails and even a glass of ice water. The flavor is light and tangy.  I can't imagine it would be disagreeable to anyone's pallate.  The skin on the fruit is thin and can be eaten. There are seeds in the star fruit but they are minimal and easily removed prior to consumption. 
Although the Florida orange typically gets the kudos in the Vitamin C department, Carambola's are chalked full of the vitamin and contain a large amount of water which counts for hydration points. In my opinion a star fruit is the "low maintenance" version of an orange.  It's easier to grow and prepare than an orange and I guarantee given the choice, a child would pick a unique shape fruit over a boring round one :) I do love oranges though so don't get me wrong.
So far our carambola tree has needed little love other than a warm sunny spot to love and ample amounts of water during the dry season.  These trees tell you they are not happy when the leaves turn yellow.  Generally this indicates too much water or not enough.  We purchased two of the trees ($25 each which is amazing for such a productive fruit tree) and gave one to our friends in Miami as a housewarming gift.  Their's instantly started producing and has ever since (Zone 11).  Ours was a little stunted due to the amount of freeze temperatures we had this past winter (Zone 9/10 border) but since we moved it to a sunny location and gave it some drip irrigation is is blooming like crazy. Do yourself a favor and if you are located in Florida get yourself a Carambola!

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