Another Fabulous Fruit: Carambola
For two decades the exotic carambola only appeared in the U.S. as a component of holiday fruit baskets. These days you’ll find them in all the better Stateside grocery stores. Also known as star fruit because of its shape when sliced crosswise, this oddity once grew only in Sri Lanka and the Moluccas. Perhaps a millennium ago it was transplanted to Southeast Asia, where it has been heavily cultivated ever since. There is more than one variety, but in Central America you’ll find small, tart versions that locals eat fresh or blended in licuados (aka a “smoothie”). In other countries the carambola is sold canned in syrup like peaches or marinated in honey then jarred as preserves. If you eat your carambola fresh, check the skin first — if the ribs are brownish, trim those parts off to give a sweeter taste. If you decide to cook with carambolas, you’ll find they make a good substitute for apples in recipes.