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Starfruit (carambol)

When writing this site’s well-read & very popular Uru (Breadfruit) Report &, in particular the Uru Beer Report, I mentioned the staggering figure that an estimated 80% of all uru grown in Tahiti simply falls from the tree to splatter on the ground!

There’s another fruit-tree growing wild & with gusto in Bora Bora for which almost the total crop just sits there & rots on the tree. A fruit with a distinctive & delectable taste, full of goodness, refreshingly juicy, ready to be eaten skin & all straight from the tree.

It’s made into great drinks, used in relishes & chutneys, in salads and an excellent companion when cooked with fish or chicken. And it just wastes away on the tree!


I’m talking of the easily recognizable Carambol or Starfruit, which turns from green to yellow/orange as it ripens.

The fruit measures around 5-10 cm in length & has distinctive ridges along its sides. When you cut the fruit in cross-sections it resembles a star. You can see the star shape & just how juicy the fruit is in the following photo.

Starfruit (carambol) star shape

The entire fruit, including the skin is edible but it’s the sweet, firm, juicy flesh that is the attraction. It has a distinctive orange citrus taste with a tinge of apple. The distinctive taste produces a drink that is refreshing beyond peers. Yummy!

Don’t be misled by the fact that the fruit rests on the tree — it’s a question of marketing. The starfruit bruises easily and as a consequence, does not travel well.

It can also retain a somewhat sour taste if picked too early. The net result is the fruit is never seen selling in the supermarket. The Pistache here is in a similar situation since you never see it in the shops, but what an absolute treat to eat straight from the tree!

Starfruit is rich in antioxidants, potassium & vitamin C & low in sodium, acid and sugar, which rarely exceeds 4% by volume. Starfruit contains oxalic acid.

Starfruit trees give fruit almost year round, with a tree capable of producing up to 180kgs of fruit a year.

Starfruit tree

If you are visiting Bora Bora & see starfruit wasting by the road, why not try one out? Look for fruit that is yellow to orange with not too much green on the ridges, and not starting to blotch with brown spots from the sun. Eat it as taken from the tree and you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.

If time permits it makes a great drink.

For a litre of cordial extract the juice from 10-12 starfruit to give around 1/3rd of a liter of juice. Mix with pre-prepared lemon grass tea left to cool (say 4 generous lemon-grass leaves to the 2/3rd of a litre of water boiled and boil a level teaspoon of raw sugar in the mix.

If you use a blender then filter off the ‘frothy’ head made mostly from the fruit’s skin and more sour than the actual fruit juice. I find the balance of 1/3rd fruit juice to 2/3rd tea is excellent! This is a great drop!

If you have the facilities, it makes a brilliant chutney too!

Starfruit juice