Saturday, October 16, 2010

Carambola: Breakfast of Champions

Ever since Allie started high school, she has a hard time digesting breakfast.  I don't know if it is the time of day or the fact that she prefers to sleep in and therefore isn't really awake.  Normally, she has a good appetite, but in the morning, she eats very lightly.
One thing that she does like to eat is fruit.  While berries are her favorite, berry season in NH is limited.  So, I try to serve her a lot of in season fruit.  It's not quite grapefruit season yet, but carambolas are in season.
A carambola looks like this at the grocery store.  Sometimes it is greener, but as it ripens, the edges turn brown and the rest turn deeper yellow.  If you smell them, they are fragrant when ripe.
Also, when you slice them (cross section slices) they become stars which is why they are also called starfruit.

The flavor ranges from sour to slightly sweet with a flavor described as a cross between grapefruit and papaya.  Some people think it tastes like a sour apple but the texture is nothing like an apple.

Each carambola has about a dozen seeds inside encapsulated by a gel like substance.  While the entire fruit is edible, I remove the seeds for the girls.

Carambola are harvested in tropical climates all over the world and they are grown in southern Florida and Hawaii.  They are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.  They also contain oxalic acid.  While healthy for most people, like grapefruit they interact with certain drugs.  The oxalic acid can cause problems for people with kidney problems.

Carambolas grow on trees that reach 30 feet high.  USA & Puerto Rico crops have three seasons - late summer, November & December and then March through April.

Carambolas are eaten "raw" when ripe.  They are sliced and added to salads.  Some countries use the juice in beverages and also it is made into jelly.

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