With the heaps of snow dumped on us this week, and having hung out for almost 24 hours in a house with temps reaching waaay below normal, it’s a wonder that this week’s New For Us Friday involved a tropical fruit.
Funny how things work.
Maddy and I spent a quiet Monday morning together this week; she was off of school and Owen and Cora had morning preschool, so just like old times, she and I strolled leisurely through the grocery store, checking out cool new foods, chatting, and enjoying each other’s company.
She always has an eye for exotic fruits and veggies, so when she saw this unusual Star Fruit–almost immediately after we entered the store–she said, MomcanwepleasetrythisonepleasepleasepleaseitlookssocoolandIbetittastesawesome.
How could I say no? With frigid temps outside, a forecast of snow, sleet, and ice, and the possibility of overdosing on hot chocolate, movies, and wii later in the week? Absolutely. We so had to try something sweet and tropical this week.
And so explains how the star fruit, the Carambola, made its way into our home on a seemingly random January morning.
- Star Fruit, the Carambola: I should have–but I didn’t–do any research on the Star Fruit before we actually tried it. Didn’t I learn my lesson with the mango?
the Star Fruit, waiting to be tasted
Because I noticed that the edges of our Star Fruits were quickly turning brown, we tried this new-for-us fruit at breakfast the day after we bought it.
Maddy, Owen, and Cora were wiping the sleep dust from their eyes, throwing back their yogurt, and talking about the day ahead when I jumped up, cleaned the fruit, and said, Oh my gosh! We were going to try this new fruit later in the week, but look–it’s already turning brown on the edges. We have to try it now!
(All previous bickering over whatever they were bickering about ceased, as attention turned to this strange fruit in my hand.)
Maddy said, Yes! It’s the Star Fruit! I picked it out yesterday!
Owen wasn’t sure why it was called a Star Fruit and asked if it was sour like a lemon. It looks sour to me. Really sour, he said. (Maybe the yellow?)
I let them hold it, move it around, smell it, and shake it before I cut the first piece. What do you think, my friends? Will it be sweet or sour? Crunchy or soggy? Full of seeds or not?
They made some guesses, passed it around, and then I cut it and held it up to the light, like we do with slices of clementines when we’re checking for seeds.
What do you think? Can we eat the skin? Do we eat the seeds?
Oh my gosh–it’s really pretty! It looks see-through and bright. I see seeds! Mooooommy–there are seeds. We can’t eat the seeds!
I put a slice on plates for each kiddo, and tentatively they nibbled a corner. I finished mine, and then I wondered aloud if we should have peeled the skin off first.
Maddy thought we should have, but Owen and Cora said their skin was fine.
It reminded me of a pomegranate; it was juicy but dry in my mouth. And mine was sour. Owen said his tasted like an apple and a lemon (interesting combo), and Maddy said hers was kind of like a kiwi. Cora told us that hers was sweet and it was not like a banana.
Cora’s Star Fruit was not like a banana.
I said, You know what? Sometimes when we’re trying something new, it’s great to figure out what it’s like, and it’s also smart to figure out what it’s unlike, or what things it’s very different from. Good job, you guys; you’re really using your brains.
Because we only had a few minutes before we needed to head out the door, we talked about if we liked the Star Fruit overall, and it was a mixed bag. No one was really sure. So we tabled it, decided we’d figure it out after school or later on, and that was fine.
Maddy did suggest we look for information on the internet like we did when we tore apart our mango, so that’s what I did, and that’s what we talked about later that day. (See below.)
But first, Owen, Cora, and I took the extra Star Fruit to Cora’s playgroup for our playgroup buddies to try. Some children and moms really dug it, and others weren’t so sure. One smart pal said that the taste of the Star Fruit reminded her of a grape–and I think that’s the best comparison we had; it really does resemble a grape, with the thin skin, juicy flesh, and little sweet/sour mix.
So that’s it–just a little something new shoved into our snowed-in, three days off of school, one full day without power week. Not that we needed any added excitement, but getting my family excited about trying something new is always on my radar. And if it brings a little tropical sun into our day–like the Star Fruit did–it’s a win in my book.
Want to know more about the exotic Star Fruit? I did–and so did Maddy, Owen, and Cora. Here’s what we found:
from Trade Winds Fruit:
- Origin of the Star Fruit is unknown, but thought is that it originated in Malaysia.
- The fruit has never been located in the wild–it was domesticated in India and southeast Asia in prehistoric times (um, how are they sure about that?) and established in American tropics 150 years ago.
from Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- The complicated flavor is a combination of plums (yes!), pineapples, and lemons.
- Stated that Star Fruit is originally from Sri Lanka and the Moluccas.
- Tart varieties typically have narrowly spaced ribs, while sweet varieties tend to have thick, fleshy ribs. The tastes between the two are hardly distinguishable, as the tart variety still has some sweetness.
- Excellent source of Vitamin C.
from Oxford Journals, NDT (Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation)
- 2003 article states that some patients with renal failure experienced behavioral and cognitive alterations–hiccups, mental confusion, even death–after ingesting Star Fruit. (Gulp.)
- In Brazil, Star Fruit is served as a fresh beverage, and it is widely used in restaurants for decorative purposes.
- In India, ripe fruit is administered to halt hemorrhages and to relieve bleeding hemorrhoids. (What??!)
- In Brazil, carambola is recommended as a diuretic for kidney and bladder complaints.
from Nature Isle, the tropical gourmet:
- Star Fruits are low fat, and naturally sodium and cholesterol free.
- Starfruit can be combined with chicken or other protein, avocados, and other fruits and vegetables to make a salad. It is also used in sweet bread recipes and cakes.
- Select firm, shiny skinned, even colored fruit. Star fruits will ripen at room temperature and have lightly brown edges on the ribs when it’s ripe.
- No need to peel before eating; just cut off brown edges and enjoy!