Although this pickle like
fruit is indigenous to Southeast Asia it has adapted very well
to southern Belize. The bilimbi is normally grown as a backyard
fruit tree for home consumption as well as for its ornamental
Depending on the location and type of soil, the tree may reach
a height of 8 to 50 feet. The fruits are borne in clusters on
the main truck and mature branches.
The trees at Dem Dats Doin were planted in 1984 and bore fruits
within two (2) years. The trees were planted in reasonably healthy
soil and in full sun to reduce its height. The trees have never
gone beyond ten (10) feet. When the trees were young we applied
a biofertilizer slurry from our biogas system twice a year.
In fact, most of the young plants at Dem Dats Doin are either
given a slurry composition and/or a slurry tea.
The firm mature, thin skinned fruits resemble miniature cucumbers
or gherkins, about 2-4 inches long and a girth of 1-1.5 inches.
The fruit is eaten out of hand especially by young Belizean
students touring Dem Dats Doin. In fact most of them take a
few fruits home to share with their siblings. However, the bilimbi
is very tart, crunchy and juicy similar to eating green apples.
Even the birds, insects and other small animals bypass the Bilimbi
for better tasting fruits at DDD. Like apples the seeds are
in the middle of the fruit. The bilimbi is excellent for juices
and relishes. At Dem Dats Doin we make a sweet and sour pickle
product for home use.
Like the Averrhoa carambola, the bilimbi has a long fruiting
season – usually about 8-9 months. The fruit ripens when
it starts to turn a light yellow color, feels soft and drops
to the ground. Seeds from the fruit are also exported.