My Aunt Bernie had a carambola tree by her front door and it was always loaded with fruit. She’d slice up the pretty stars on a glass plate for all of us kids. I loved how they looked, but I’d only eat a slice or two. I didn’t mind the texture, which is crunchy and juicy like a grape with a thin, waxy skin. But the taste is so unusual, like a green apple with strange grassy notes. I’ve grown to like them more, maybe because they take me back to Aunt Bernie’s house.Carambola, or star fruit, is a popular tree in Florida yards. They’re easy to grow and they’ll give you a boatload of fruit. It’s overwhelming, especially for a fruit that’s better in small doses. Case in point: Many go to waste, but sometimes you’ll find bins of free fruit at the end of a driveway. I really should get a basket for the front of my bike, but I make do.I hate to see good fruit go to waste. I’ve had friends ask me for more recipes, and I know I can always find fruit, so I started experimenting.
Generally I think fruit is better raw, so I was pretty surprised after I tried these cooked. They’re delicious! I felt like I unlocked the secret of star fruit. Not only do they taste better, but cooking helps use up even more of them.These chips are a great place to start. I call them chips, but they lie somewhere in a gray area between dehydrated fruit and candy. They’ve got crispy edges and slightly chewy centers and the flavor is sweet-tart and spiked with a little hint of ginger. They’re perfect for snacking. You can make batch after batch, and I promise they’ll disappear. As an added bonus, you end up with starfruit syrup, which makes amazing cocktails and lemonade. My friend Paula came over with a huge wheel of brie after I’d just pulled a batch out of the oven. We put them together and it was magic. I’ve been scattering them on cheese boards ever since.
- 2 medium to large star fruit
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced (optional)
- cinnamon sugar or sea salt, for sprinkling
- Heat the oven to 200 F.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment.
- Slice the star fruit into thin, even slices, about 1/4" thick or less.
- In a saucepan over medium-high, dissolve the sugar in water and add the ginger, if using. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the star fruit, and simmer for a few minutes, then remove it from the heat and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.
- Using tongs, transfer each slice to the lined baking sheet, allowing the excess syrup to drip off.*
- Bake the slices for at least an hour, or until they're dry and crisp.
- Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar or a pinch of sea salt if you like.
- Store in an airtight container. They're best used within a few days.
- *Reserve the leftover starfruit-ginger syrup for cocktails or lemonade.