Ripening Carambola or star fruit as it’s commonly sold.

A year ago, Vivienne a Florida friend, shipped us a box of ripe Carambola fruit from her tree.

We had eaten a few purchased locally. In many stores, they’re marketed by their shape as star fruit. In the Caribbean they’re known as Carambola avoiding confusion with another tropical fruit. They were interesting but not inspiring.

Vivienne’s were different. They were fantastic. One bite. Oh my gosh! These perfectly ripe fruit were:

  • yellow with a rosy hue
  • firm
  • crisp
  • very juicy with little pulp
  • slightly sweet
  • slightly acidic
  • subtly floral
Tree ripened fruit.

Perfectly ripe Carambola are the most refreshing fruit I’ve ever eaten. What a tropical treat for someone frozen in a Wyoming winter.

Most Carambola fruit is sold unripe. They are:

  • yellow with a green hue
  • have green on the ridges
  • oxalic
  • not sweet
  • lack floral aroma
  • more crisp than juicy

Given time, unripe fruit will ripe. But they don’t develop the sweetness and floral aroma of tree ripen fruit.

Ripe fruit quickly becomes over-ripe in just a couple of days. They:

  • loose the rosy hue
  • rapidly develop brown ridges and spots
  • have an off flavor
  • are soft
  • are watery

Over-ripe fruit to rotten takes less than a day.


Viviennes carambola
Viviennes tree.

Fast forward, a year later.

  • we’re living in Florida
  • Vivienne calls us
  • her Carambola tree is full of ripe fruit
  • others are harvesting the fruit
  • come and get some before it’s gone

Don’t need to ask us twice. It’s an hour and a half to Vivienne’s. And it’s Carambola picking time!

The Tree

Carambola is a beautiful and unusual tree. The fruit crop peaks twice a year. But the tree blooms while fruit develops and ripens. So there’s usually some ripe fruit available most of the time.

At Viviennes

Vivienne’s vivacious smile and sparkling eyes welcome us. It’s always good to see her.

Vivienne harvesting.
Vivienne harvesting.

Even after a week of harvest by others, her tree is still full of ripe fruit.

Tree ripe fruit falls at the slightest touch or branch movement. That makes fruit easy to harvest. But dropped fruit is bruised fruit which quickly spoils. So disturbing branches is bad. And any wind is devastating.

Fruit not reached by hand, is harvested using a small basket mounted on a long pole. Just touch a ripe fruit. It falls into the basket. Fruit not falling when touched is left to ripen. Vivienne grabs the pole and shows me how.

From the quantity of flower buds to over-ripe fruit, I’m overwhelmed. As a kid picking berries, the first one’s picked never made it into the bucket. So with Carambola.

I don’t think human history would have been the same if Carambola trees existed on the African plains. Our distant relatives would never have come down from them. And we’d still be up there eating Carambola fruit. 🙂

Back Home

A nice visit and a large cardboard box of fruit later. It’s back home.

And from personal experience there’s nothing more refreshing and vitalizing that a chilled tree ripen Carambola fruit eaten on a hot Florida day. And just one fruit is never enough.

So Carambola is a must have tree for the yard.

Thanks Vivienne. And a special thanks to Ian Maguire who owns some of the images above. Yes, I was having too much fun picking and eating Carambola. And I forgot to take enough pictures.


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