Star fruit or carambola (มะเฟือง)

(Averrhoa carambola)

I highly recommend tasting ripe star fruit, if you haven’t done it before. F.e. all carambolas, exported to Russia, are green and unripe, they are sour and much crispier than they should be. Well, probably it’s a matter of taste.

Taste of star fruit

Juicy carambola has tender taste. It doesn’t strike one’s taste buds as bright taste of mangosteen, pineapple or orange. Star fruit is sour-sweet, watery, with almost unnoticeable astringency.  It reminds me of kiwi, gooseberry and apple.

Unripe carambola is edible, its flesh reminds of the flesh of unripe gooseberry, crispier but there will be a lack of star fruit flavour. I would compare eating unripe carambola with unripe apple – one can do this, but what for? Nevertheless in Thailand unripe star fruit can be used as ingredient for a salad or in any other vegetable purposes.

How to choose, transport & store

Ripe star fruit have distinct yellow-orange colour with no green areas. Ripe carambola is less dense with the flesh is of yellow colour. Edges of star fruit become brown (5 thin brown lines per fruit). Star fruit begin to spoil from their “ribs” (edges). Honestly, I would prefer overripe carambola to unripe – just cut off bad edges.

Unripe star fruit
Note green edges on orange star fruit – it means that it’s unripe and very sour

Ripe carambola is easy to break due to its shape, so if you plan to bring some star fruits back home, you’d rather wrap each fruit in cloth or smth soft. Ripe star fruits can be stored in a fridge ~1 week.

How to eat star fruit

The fruit is fully edible (except seeds). If you have occasionally swallowed a seed, don’t worry, it won’t harm you. One can eat carambola like an apple or cut it into stars and admire the shape.

Traveling in Thailand you should taste freshly squeezed juice of carambola or star fruit shake. Both are quite hard to find in Thailand, pay attention at fruit shake stalls – whether they have carambolas. Note: fruit should be 100% ripe.

People that suffer from any kidney diseases should avoid star fruit. Caramboxin can lead to renal failure.

Healthy people should avoid eating too many star fruit at a time and don’t risk eating carambola (drinking its juice/shake) on an empty stomach – it contains oxalic acid that can damage ones health.

Unripe carambolas

When and where to buy

The season for carambola in Thailand is late summer and autumn. Star fruit is not very common, but there will be some in any fruit market for sure (during the season). I’ve seen carambola sold for 50-80 THB/kg.

Star fruit tree
Star fruit trees are not high (5-12 m), sometimes they are just shrubs

Star fruit on a tree


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