This one of a kind fruit gets its name from the star-like design when sliced. In Jamaica it’s also known as the “mean fruit” as picking the apples from the tree with your bare hands is not quite the easy task.
Star apple also named (Chrysophyllum cainito) may be round to oblate to ellipsoid and 2 to 4 inches in diameter (5-10 cm). The peel may be red-purple, dark-purple, or pale-green. It is smooth, glossy, and leathery. In purple fruits, the inner rind is dark purple, and in green fruits, white.
The pulp is white, soft, and milky surrounding 6 to 11 seeds. The seeds are contained in rubbery seed cells, and each seed is surrounded by a gelatinous pulp. When the fruit is cut transversely, the seed cells are seen to radiate outwardly from a central core, producing a star-shaped pattern.
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 serve as a good source of calcium, with each serving providing you with 10 percent of the amount you require each day. The calcium lends strength to your bones and teeth, and it may also lessen symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, such as cramping and abdominal bloating.
This fruit also contains 5 percent of the daily recommended value per serving of vitamin C and vitamin A. Additionally; one serving of star apples serves up 2 percent of the iron, a mineral vital for oxygenating your body, that you need every day.
Eating a serving of star apple contributes 3 g of fiber to the recommended daily intake of 25 to 38 g. Fiber provides bulk to your diet, a factor that can make your stomach feel fuller for longer.
Star apple is one of the very low calorie exotic fruits. 100 g fruit just provides 31 calories, which is much lower than any other popular tropical fruits. Nonetheless, it has an impressive list of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins required for well-being.