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Star Apple

Star Apple
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Star Apple

Star Apple (Chrysophyllum cainito) is a tropical tree of the family Sapotaceae.

The Star Apple was first documented by the Spanish explorer Cieza de Leon who discovered it growing in Peru in the 1500’s. Later it made its way to the Philippines, Panama, Guatemala, the Caribbean Islands, Zanzibar and the warmer parts of India. In the late 1800’s the United States Department of Agriculture acquired seeds from Jamaica and began growing the Star Apple first in Florida and then soon after in Hawaii. The Star Apple tree thrives in warm to hot tropical climates and is not very tolerant of cold and frost, particularly in young trees. Most commonly Star Apple trees are grown as home trees or in the wild and along roadsides. Commercial production is currently done on a small scale in southern Florida.

Star Apples are available in the spring.

Common Names

It has numerous common names including cainito, caimito, star apple, golden leaf tree, abiaba, pomme du lait, estrella, milk fruit and aguay. It is also known by the synonym Achras cainito. In Malayalam it is called "Swarnapathry" scientific name Chrysophyllum cainito .


Star Apples are round and approximately two to four inches in diameter at maturity. Its skin is smooth, leathery and depending on variety either purple to red or yellow to green in color. The inner rind of the purple variety is dark purple and in green fruits white. This rind surrounds a soft, creamy, white pulp as well as six to eleven gelatinous seed cells. When the fruit is cut in half the gelatinous cells form a star shape, hence the name of the fruit. Some of the cells encase small, pointed, flat, black seeds. Fruits can contain anywhere between three and ten seeds, those with fewer seeds tend to have the best flavor. The pulp of the Star Apple is aromatic and has a tropical sweet flavor with nuances of apple, lychee and persimmon. Ripe Star Apples will be slightly wrinkled and dull in color with a soft give when squeezed. To fully ripen, keep at room temperature and once ripe store in the refrigerator.

Star apple uses

Star Apples are prized for the soft sweet pulp they contain, which is most often enjoyed raw as is but can be used in a number of dessert and beverage preparations as well. Both the skin and rind of the fruit are bitter and inedible, to prepare slice in half and use a spoon to remove the pulp. Aside for a few medicinal purposes typically the seeds are not consumed. Best when served chilled the pulp of the fruit can be used in beverages, parfaits, sorbet and both green and fruit salads. Its flavor pairs well with mango, oranges, condensed milk, coconut milk and whipping cream.

Nutritional Value

The pulp of the Star Apple provides a fair amount of vitamin C, calcium and phosphorous. Its pulp has also been found to be rich in phytochemicals aka antioxidants, which have been shown to help to prevent certain cancers and support a healthy immune system. The pulp of the Star Apple has been used to treat sore throats and reduce the inflammation associated with pneumonia and laryngitis. When ground the seeds can be used as a tonic and diuretic. In some areas both a beverage made of the bark of the Star Apple tree and the pulp of the fruit are used to treat diarrhea and dysentery. If eaten in excess the Star Apple can cause constipation. 

Health Benefits of Star Apple 

1. Star fruit are a source of beta carotenes which when converted into retinol or Vitamin A help in maintaining good vision and appetite. Other poly-phenolic antioxidants contained in the fruit act as antimicrobials against E.coli, Klebiesella sp., Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A single cup of Carambola provides 1 percent each of Vitamin A and E.

2 .The high concentration of water-soluble Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, is found in the Star fruit and helps maintain bones, teeth, skin, and mucous membranes and also boosts the immune systems. Vitamin C also helps aids in lowering the risk of gout and arthritis developing. A single cup of Star fruit provides 37.2 mg of Vitamin C which helps to ward off colds and flu.

3. The Carambola also has small amounts of B vitamins like B5 or Pantothenic acid which aid in lowering cholesterol and speeds up wound recovery. Folate or vitamin B9 is essential in preventing birth defects and also in reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks. Folate prevents the build-up of homocysteine which is linked to arthrosclerosis, strokes and heart attacks. There are also trace amounts of Niacin, Thiamine and Riboflavin.

4. The soluble dietary fibre found in the fruit helps lower cholesterol and adds bulk and moisture to faeces keeping the bowel healthy and preventing constipation.

5. The small quantities of potassium help regulate blood pressure levels, iron for red blood cell formation and calcium and magnesium help to fortify bones.  The fruit is low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol.

6. The zinc found in the fruit is said to be a natural remedy for clearing up acne and oily skin and can be eaten or applied to the skin.

7. The fruit is also said to help with nausea and indigestion and also known to cure hangovers and prickly heat. The fruit is give to nursing mothers as it is believed to stimulate milk flow.

8. Sore eyes and sunstroke can also be helped by the application or consumption of star fruit. A decoction of the leaves and roots either prepared separately or in combination, help cure headaches, ringworm and chicken pox.

Read More at Wikipedia
Also see Star Fruit.
Recipe using Star apple see Here and Here.

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