Carambola, Star Fruit, Carambolo
May 15, 2011 Leave a comment
By Rob Packer
I must have been six or seven, the first time I saw a star fruit (carambola in Brazilian Portuguese, carambolo in Colombian Spanish). I had just (re) discovered the fruit salad and wanted to make one with the most interesting fruit I could find in the slimly-stocked fruit section of late 1980’s British supermarkets. The star fruit, a fruit whose name I could only understand once we started to make the fruit salad, seemed the perfect addition, but it disappointed and I still remember my mum’s verdict: it tastes like cucumber.
It was 15 years before I tried it again in Colombia last year, a carambolo this time. Unlike the star fruit that made it to the UK, this one had a definite taste: it was sour like a lemon, the kind of fruit that tastes best with salt and lime. The carambola in Brazil still has the citrusy tartness of the Colombian version but without the acidity.
Years later, though, I can still see what my mum meant: it seems more of a vegetable. You might be able to make a juice out of it—like I did this morning—but it doesn’t really work on its own except as a shape-based novelty. For me, its tart, vegetal flavour works better added to (savoury and fruit) salads.