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Star Stuck

carambola ready to be pickled

I live in Florida. And it’s September. And together, that means Star Fruits. – Not a few, here and there. No, it means loads of them, over and over again.

So we eat Carambola – as this star shaped, deep golden colored fruit also is called -, whole, just as one would eat an apple or pear. We slice it up and let the lovely little stars infuse our water. We cut it into slices, dehydrate it and nibble on star shaped chips. We juice it. We cook it (with the aid of lots of pectin!) into jam. We chop it and make it into salsas and chutneys. We decorate salads or crudité platters with the yellow stars.

And, because even after all of the above there usually still are way too many Carambolas around – I pickle them. I have experimented with different brines and solid partners, and by now stick to red onions as a perfect companion to the Star Fruit, and a simple apple cider vinegar liquid. Pickling Carambola is quick and easy, so I recommend to make the little extra time to take out the seeds. It is not a huge effort, and the result is a very pleasant eating experience.

carambola bounty


Pickled Star Fruit are most probably not part of any cook book recipe – and therefore mobilize one’s creative juices. They can be added to savory sandwiches or be part of a big mixed salad. They have turned out to be the just perfect companions to specific cheeses. They marry merrily with all kinds of fatty meats and charcuterie (Foie Gras, anybody? Rillettes, Pâtés?). They make baked fish very happy, and simple rice dishes right out fancy – especially when there are some warm spices involved (think curry, turmeric, cumin, coriander, etc.).

Not to mention that they taste fruity and sweet and tart and summery just plain out of the jar. – So, being star stuck isn’t a bad thing after all.

pickled carambola in jars

Pickled Star Fruit with Red Onion

(makes 4 half pint jars)

  • 16-20 pce Star Fruit
  • water
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 large red onion
  • 16 ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 16 ounces water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 pce half pint clean canning jars with never used lids and bands

Wash Star Fruits. Cut off the edges of the five pointed parts. Cut into 1/6 inch thick slices. Remove all seeds.

Put slices into a very large bowl, fill up with cold water and add the salt. Stir with a wooden spoon and let rest half a day.

carambola in salt water

In a colander, drain Star Fruit and rinse throughly.

Peel onion, cut into halves and then into about 1/6 inch thick slices. Mix with the Star Fruits.

Add apple cider vinegar, water and sugar into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill Star Fruit-Onion mix into the jars, leaving 1 inch tall empty from the top.

Fill half of a large sauce pan with water. Put on lid and bring to a boil. (This is the liquid in which the pickles will be sterilized later.)

Divide brining liquid between the jars, making sure all fruit and onion is covered, yet leaving a little space between the liquid and the top. If there is not enough liquid, fill jars up with more vinegar. Put the lids on.

Transfer the jars into the boiling water and cook in the bubbling water for 10 minutes. Remove from the water, dry and let cool. Store the pickles in a dark place at least one week before enjoying them. – Have fun coming up with many new recipes!

pickled carambola

  • http://www.notonlycooking.com/ Laura NOC

    What a cool idea! I’m a fan of pickles of all sorts. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • caroline hostettler

    thanks for taking part in my blog, laura. and yes, these pickles turned out to be quite a success.

  • Peggy Darrow

    Just made this last night. Not sure why it states using 4 half pint jars for 16 to 20 starfruit, I used 12 for that many starfruit. I couldn’t fit many in the jars so if they turn out good, I will use bigger jars.

    • caroline hostettler

      Hi Peggy, I usually do pack my jars tight and full, this is true. I know there’s various kinds of star fruit, so maybe they also come in different sizes? Anyways: I hope you like the pickles you made, and can put your star fruits to good use also in the future! Let me know, please.

      • Peggy Darrow

        I didn’t pack mine tight. This is my first attempt of canning anything. Since I didn’t pack tight, will this make a difference? I really want to try them but the recipe says to let sit for a few days, will this enhance the flavor?

        • caroline hostettler

          Not packing tight won’t have an impact on flavor or texture, no. Packing tight is about making the most out of the space you have, and also about looking pretty. Even the latter is a thing of experience and is a bit tricky. But you might have seen jars of preserved green beans. They look so immaculate when they are packed straight and tight and regularly. – On the other hand: Be patient, yes! The flavor will be so much better, so much deeper if you give them a few days. It definitely is worth the wait. Enjoy!

  • Suzy

    Why soak in salt water beforehand?

    • caroline hostettler

      the fruit releases water, so the finished pickle will be crunchier and its flavor more concentrated. enjoy!