Star fruits are curious-looking fruits that grow on short-trunked, densely branched, evergreen trees. They appear along branches and near the leaf joints, following small, red-stemmed, lilac and purple flowers. The fruits are oblong, maturing from a dark or light green to an orangey-yellow and have 5 (sometimes 6) ribs, or wings, that are sometimes tipped with green. They range in size from 6 to 15 centimeters long and up to 9 centimeters wide. Beneath the thin and waxy skin is a yellow flesh that is juicy and crisp when fully ripe. Immature fruits are sour. When cut lengthwise into slices, the resulting shape is that of a star. Most fruits will contain up to 12 tiny, flat, brown seeds. Ripe fruits will have a honeyed, tropical aroma as well as sweet-tart tasting notes of plum and grape. The entire fruit is edible, including the skin and seeds.
Star fruits are rich in vitamin C, with one serving giving you half your daily recommended intake of the beneficial nutrient. It is also a good source of fiber and a great source of vitamin K. Star fruits contain vitamin A, carotenes, and B-complex vitamins. They are rich in antioxidant flavonoids and folate and also contain minerals like potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron. Unripe fruits contain high amounts of oxalic acid and can be detrimental to those with kidney disease or taking statin drugs.
Star fruits can be eaten fresh, sliced into stars, or juiced. The sliced fruits have an aesthetically pleasing appearance and are often used as garnishes for salads or drinks. Star fruit juice can be combined with other tropical fruit juices to make cocktails and sangria.The fruit can be baked into pies, pastries, tarts, and cakes. In Malaysia, they are stewed along with apples, sugar, and cloves. Sour or slightly under-ripe star fruits are best for jams and candying, and in Thailand they are salted and pickled. Young, green fruits are used to make relishes or chutneys. Ripe fruit is dried in Jamaica, concentrating the sugars and preserving them for future use. Star fruit pairs well with poultry, fish, and shrimp. They can be used in marinades, sauces, and braising liquids. Store ripe, unwashed fruit in the refrigerator for up to a month. At room temperature, some star fruit varieties will keep for up to two weeks.
Star fruits are available year-round in tropical regions and in the late summer through early winter in subtropical areas.