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It's a Plant's Life too - Carambola
It's a Plant's Life too - Carambola
It's a Plant's Life too - Carambola

Star fruit, five fingers, five corners, bilimbing, are common names for the tropical exotic fruit Averrhoa Carambola. Dem Dats Doin introduced a sweet juicy variety to the Toledo District in 1985. It was grown from seeds obtained from the University of Hawaii in 1983. With proper care, a tree will produce fruits within two years although at Dem Dats Doin the trees bore fruits in 18 months.

The Carambola is an attractive small tree, grows to a height of 4 to 8 meters at maturity but can easily be kept at about 3 meters and still produce more fruit than a family can use. The tiny attractive light to dark pink clusters of flowers are borne on its trunk and branches. The tree may be considered tropical, it prefers a warm moist climate and a deep rich soil, but it can be grown successfully on sandy soils and heavy clays. Carambolas are well suited for light shade or full sun but have poor salt tolerance and should be kept away from direct salt wind. Its normal life span is approximately 25 years.

Ripe Carambola fruit on tree
There are very few serious pest problems associated with carambolas. Moths, butterflies and birds are serious pest problems if you have intentions to sell fruits commercially. Otherwise for home grown trees it is tolerable.

The first crop that we harvested were packed into buckets and carried into PG town on market day (Saturday). Sample fruits were handed out to interested farmers, telling them if you like the fruit please plant the seeds as the fruits will grow true as the original plant. We believe the majority of the carambolas sold in the Toledo District originated from this first introduction by Dem Dats Doin.

The Carambola belongs to the Oxalis family and the genus is Averrhoa. The fruit is indigenous to Southeast Asia. The shape of the fruit is very unusual, it is so deeply angled as to be star shaped in cross section. The fruits vary in length from three to four inches and from two to two and half inches wide. The very thin skin covers a firm juicy flesh containing about 5 to 12 small seeds. The fruit may be harvested as soon as yellowing begins, however, at this point the fruit is tart, leaving it on the tree until the color changes to a dark yellow/orange makes the fruit taste so much sweeter. The Carambolas at Dem Dats Doin bear fruit 9 to 10 months out of the year.

Most people enjoy eating a ripe fruit out-of-hand as visitors to Dem Dats Doin will attest. The fully ripe fruit may be made into jam, jellies, tarts, pies, and even wines. Chilled and sliced very thin crosswise makes a very attractive garnish addition to salads. The Chinese and Hindus consume the carambola when green as a vegetable, when ripe as a dessert. We process ripe fruits into a delicious sweet pickle (see recipe below).

Carambolas are low in calories and good source of vitamin C and potassium. The unripe fruit is used in dyeing, to remove iron rust and to polish brassware. Dem Dats Doin process annually thousands of seeds for export to seed companies.

Herbal medications: Carambola leaves for itchiness. Crush or chop young leaves and extract the juice. Apply juice to the skin or lesion to relieve itchiness, 3 times a day. Also used to lower body temperature when a fever occurs.



3 cup Carambola, sliced (remove seeds)
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Qt. water
Mix salt and quart of water in large container with lid. Place sliced carambola in salt water and soak overnight. Next day, drain, rinse and drain again. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, turn heat down and boil for 10 minutes.
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup water
3 cup sugar
½ tsp. whole cloves
1 3" piece stick cinnamon
1 small lime, sliced thin

Make a syrup with white vinegar, water, sugar, whole cloves, stick cinnamon and lime slices. Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Drain carambola and add to syrup, over high heat bring to a boil. Turn heat down and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on firmness of the fruit.

Pack in jars and process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Makes 1 pint.


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