Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
by Marcia Wood, Agricultural Research Service

Hey Carambola

Sweet and juicy starfiuit, fresh from orchards in Hawaii, has shown up in select U.S. supermarkets during the past year, thanks in part to research by ARS scientists.

Their experiments with more than 2,000 tree-ripened starfiuit, also known as carambola, proved that chilling the fruit for 12 days at 34 Degrees F or below will kill any fruit fly eggs or maggots that might be hiding in the harvest. The tests, using more than 300,000 flies, opened the door for federal approval to ship this exotic tropical fruit from the Hawaiian Islands to mainland markets.

John W. Armstrong and colleagues at the ARS Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Research Laboratory in Hilo, Hawaii, demonstrated that three kinds of pests - Mediterranean and oriental fruit flies and melon flies - can't survive the cold treatment. Similar chilling regimens, developed earlier at other labs, are already approved for killing stowaway medflies in about a dozen other kinds of fruits.

In Kurtistown, Hawaii, near the ARS lab, Eric Weinert of Hula Brothers, Inc., Hawaii's largest grower and shipper of commercial carambolas, began using the newly approved procedure last autumn to market carambolas on the mainland. His company has shipped carambolas to Canada for the past 5 years, harvested from some the Hula Brothers' 4,500 trees. Other growers in Hawaii, notes Weinert, market carambola for consumption in the Islands, but the might expand production of Hula Brothers' mainland venture is a success.

The cylinder shaped fruit, about 4-7 inches long, ripens to a bright yellow. Its glossy shin is thin, crisp, and doesn't need to be peeled. Carambola is perhaps best know as a unique, star shaped garnish made by slicing crosswise along its soft ribs or ridges. Unlike some starfuit types that look better than they taste, the varieties that Weinert grows in Hawaii are "exceptionally flavorful and always sweet," he says.

Startfuit are low in calories and a good source of vitamin C and potassium. They can be eaten fresh, added to fruit salads, chutney, or stewed fruit dishes, and used to make jellies, tarts, preserves and juices. 

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Wood, Marcia. "Hey Carambola." Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council. May. 1995. Vol. 29. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.

Published 21 Apr. 2017 LR
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