Harvesting Starfruit: How And When To Pick Starfruit

Harvesting Starfruit: How And When To Pick Starfruit

By: Laura Miller

Starfruit is produced by the Carambola tree, a slow growing bush-type tree originating in Southeast Asia. Starfruit has a mildly sweet flavor which resembles that of green apples. It’s an attractive addition to fruit salads and fruit arrangements due to its star-like shape when sliced horizontally.

Anyone lucky enough to be growing this plant may be wondering how to harvest starfruit once mature. This article can help with that.

Starfruit Harvest Time

Carambola trees grow in warm climates. As a warm weather fruit bearing plant, starfruit trees don’t require a chill period to promote spring blooming and fruit production. As such, starfruit trees are a bit unusual in that they don’t necessarily bloom in a particular season.

This means starfruit harvest time can vary throughout the year. In some locations, trees may produce two or even three crops per year. In other areas, production may continue year-round. Climate and weather play a part in determining when and how often Carambola trees produce fruit.

In areas where there is a definitive blooming season, starfruit harvest time generally occurs in late summer or early fall. When harvesting starfruit at this time of the year, growers can usually expect the highest yields. This is especially true in southern Florida where the prime time for picking starfruit occurs in August and September, and again in December through February.

How to Harvest Starfruit

Commercial growers often harvest starfruit when the fruit is pale green and just beginning to turn yellow. Picking starfruit at this stage of ripeness allows the fruit to be shipped to markets around the world. These fruits can be kept in salable condition for up to four weeks when properly packed and stored at 50 degrees F. (10 C.).

Many home gardeners grow their own produce so they, too, may experience the rich flavor of plant-ripened fruits and vegetables. These gardeners may be wondering when to pick starfruit at its optimal ripeness. Once fully ripe, starfruit will fall to the ground. This can cause bruising and reduce post-harvest storage times, so hand picking is often the preferred method.

Home gardeners can determine when to pick fruit by checking the fruit regularly. Ripe fruit will be yellow with only traces of green on the tips of the ridges. The skin will take on a waxy appearance. Fully ripe starfruit can easily be removed from the tree with only a slight pull. For better storage, try harvesting starfruit in the morning when lower ambient temperatures keep the fruit cooler.

Carambola trees can be quite prolific. During their first two to three years, gardeners can expect annual yields of 10 to 40 pounds (5 to 18 kg.) of fruit per tree. As the trees reach full maturity at 7 to 12 years of age, each tree can produce as much as 300 pounds (136 kg.) of starfruit per year.

If that sounds daunting, keep in mind Carambola trees can produce at various times throughout the year. Starfruit stores fairly well and can be kept at room temperatures for two weeks and refrigerated for about a month. It’s also a versatile fruit with many uses and healthy benefits.

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Read more about Starfruit

Star Fruit Tree: Growing Unique Tropical Fruit

What is star fruit? You’ve come to the right place. The star fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, B9, B6, B2, and dietary fiber. It also contains various minerals, such as potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and iron. It’s a low-calorie fruit, with only 31 calories per 100 grams. And the star fruit tree is beautiful, too!

A mature tree can produce as much as 200 to 400 pounds of fruits every year. The star fruit is pulpy with a grape-like texture. The flavor is described as similar to feijoa, but with hints of banana and pear and the acidity of pineapple.

It’s also a widely popular ornamental plant. With beautiful foliage and lovely clusters of lilac-colored flowers, this tree can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden. The flowers also attract bees, so it can entice more pollinators to your yard.

Good Products When Caring For A Star Fruit Tree:

How to Choose a Ripe Star Fruit

When ripe, star fruit appears mainly bright yellow with tinges of light green. They may have some dark brown along the five ridges—this is normal. The flesh should still be quite firm to the touch. You can also buy star fruit when it's green and wait for it to ripen—just leave it on your counter for a few days. When over-ripe, star fruit turns entirely yellow and starts to have brown spots all over.

Nice to eat fresh, but also delicious cooked or juiced, star fruit is truly one of nature's starry-eyed wonders!

Planting and Care

You can grow star fruit in South Florida and warmer southeastern and southwestern counties. However, this plant is not tolerant of salt or high pH soils—star fruit is prone to chlorosis (yellowing of plant tissue) in alkaline or limestone soils. Plant your star fruit in full sun, away from other trees and buildings, structures, and power lines. Along with warm temperatures, this plant needs well-drained soil, improved fertilization, and protection from the wind. It may also need supplemental irrigation as carambola is not drought-tolerant. Harvest your star fruit from June to February fruit are sweetest when they are allowed to fully ripen on the tree. Some cultivars of star fruit can produce two to three crops per year.

A Note of Caution

It should be noted that people who have been diagnosed with kidney disease should not eat star fruit unless their doctor says that it is safe for them to eat. This fruit may contain enough oxalic acid to cause kidney issues.

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