Quite literally the star of the winter produce counter is carambola, or star fruit, an exotic, golden fruit native to the tropics but recently under cultivation in Florida. Star fruit has an elongated shape with five ribs, or fins; when sliced crosswise the pieces appear star-shaped. Star fruit are ripe when the ribs are dark golden or brown, and the flesh is deep golden and somewhat soft. Green or light golden fruit needs to be left out to ripen. Star fruit are low in calories, according to Elizabeth Schneider's "Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide," (Harper & Row, 1986), with about 40 in each medium-sized fruit. They're also a good source of vitamins A and C, plus potassium and fiber. Some varieties are sweeter than others; the produce manager at the grocery may be able to tell you what variety the store is offering.
Star fruit can be used as simply as a garnish, or in fruit salads. Trim off the ends, and slice the rest of the fruit thinly. In fact, it
lends itself to simple preparations. This recipe from "Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables;" good accompaniments might be rice and a green salad: