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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
STAR FRUIT: HOW TO USE A STAR FRUIT: MEDICINAL BENEFITS AND HISTORY OF STAR FRUIT: STAR FRUIT SALAD RECIPE
It is easy to see how star fruit got its name, as when you slice the waxy green or yellow-orange fruit, the slices are like stars. When it first hit the supermarket shelves in Britain in the late 1970s it was hardly known, so the big chains produced leaflets with recipes for the fruit, however they were either for its inclusion in fruit salads or for its use as a garnish with sea food and avocados. There are two basic types of star fruit, one is green and tart, the other is a golden yellow and sweet. The tart variety may be pickled or salted, and used in conserves, such as those given in our recipe for apple conserve; prick the fruit and follow that recipe, leaving the star fruit whole.
Star fruit originated in Sri Lanka and the Malaccan islands, but spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia, where they have been cultivated, or at least domesticated since prehistoric times. They are a relative newcomer to the US as they were only introduced there around 150 years ago, although they are now produced commercially in Hawaii. You can eat these fruit raw, straight from the tree, or use with other fruit in salads, or you can make jams and preserves with them.
Star fruit come with a health warning as if you have been diagnosed with renal failure or end-stage renal disease, don’t eat even a little of this fruit. They contain toxins including a neuro-toxin which it is thought, accumulates in the blood, crosses the blood-brain barrier and eventually causes irreversible damage.
For healthy individuals the fruit are fine, and are rich in vitamins A and C in particular, so are good for the eyesight (vitamin A) as are bilberries and chikoo or sapodilla. They also contain B-complex vitamins along with 3 of the essential amino acids, tryptophan, methionine and lysine, as well as the minerals, iron, calcium and phosphorous. They have a high carbohydrate and protein content and are a rich source of dietary fibre, so good for preventing some forms of cancer, especially that of the colon, piles and constipation. They have antioxidant properties, so are good at helping to lower the risk of heart disease and increasing the blood flow.
Star fruit contain asparagines too and are related to asparagus, lavender and orchids as they are all from the Oxalidaceae family of plants. If they are under-ripe when you buy them they will ripen at room temperature in a day or two, especially if kept in their plastic wrapping. In Malaysia they sometimes stew the star fruit with sugar and cloves, and may add apples, and in Queensland, Australia they are cooked and eaten green, as vegetables. Two or three star fruit are generally about one pound in weight. The leaves from the tree can be substituted for sorrel leaves in recipes (they are a relative of wood sorrel or the shamrock).
In the Indian subcontinent they have been used in medicine for centuries, and the ripe fruit are used to stop haemorrhaging and bleeding piles. The dried fruit (or fresh juice) is given to people with fevers and the conserve mentioned above is believed to stop vomiting, diarrhoea and the symptoms of hangovers. A salve is made from the fruit to help with eye problems.
In Brazil they are used for their diuretic properties to relieve kidney and bladder problems and to treat eczema. It has been found that the fruit has antimicrobial properties and is effective in combating the E. coli bacteria and several others. A decoction of the leaves and fruit can stop vomiting, and the fresh leaves placed and kept on the temples are said to get rid of headaches. Crushed leaves and young shoots are made into poultices to relieve the itchiness of chickenpox and to get rid of ringworm. The flowers are good to expel worms from the intestines, and the powdered seeds have a sedative effect when given to sufferers of asthma and colic. Powdered roots from the tree when mixed with sugar are given as an antidote for poison.
STAR FRUIT SALAD
2 bananas, sliced
small bunch black or green seedless grapes
punnet of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 small honeydew melon, seeds removed and cubed
¼ wineglass of cointreau or other orange liqueur
¼ wine glass white wine
Mix all the fruit together and macerate in the wine and liqueur in the fridge for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
You can top the salad with crushed walnuts or decorate with extra slices of star fruit or with fresh lavender flowers or fresh basil or lemon balm leaves.
This has Taste and is a Treat.