When cut crosswise, this showy fruit has a striking star shape, which gives it its name. Also called carambola, this fruit favors tropical climates and thrives in Caribbean countries, Hawaii, Central and South America and parts of Asia. The star fruit ranges from 3 to 5 inches long and is easy to identify by the five definitive ribs that traverse its length. Its thin skin is a glossy golden yellow, its matching flesh beautifully translucent and dotted occasionally with a dark seed. When ripe, the star fruit is exceedingly juicy and fragrant. Its flavor, depending on the variety, can range from exotically sweet to refreshingly tart. In general, the broader set the ribs, the sweeter the fruit. Star fruit is available year-round in some locales but is at its prime from summer's end to late winter. Choose firm fruit that has a bright, even color. Those with greening on the ribs may be ripened at room temperature. Use ripe star fruit within a few days or store, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator for up to a week. Star fruit, which do not require peeling, are delicious eaten out of hand, or used in salads, desserts or as a garnish.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.