The African star apple (or white star apple; botanical name chrysophyllum albidum), locally known as agbalumo, udara, is a West African origin exotic fruit with a tough leather-like, green to dark orange skin depending on the stage of ripeness.
When ripe, the fruit has a tender, sweet & tart tasting inner flesh which is also dark red/orange in colour again depending on stage of ripeness. Traditionally, the fruits are allowed to fall on their own, which I have been told is a good indication that they are ripe and ready to eat...!
The fruit also possesses a cluster of about 5 large seeds stuck together in the shape of a star. The seeds have a shiny hard brown casing which feels like plastic and are covered with a cream-ish white fibrous sweet membrane.
|African Star Apples, Agbalumo, Udara|
Agbalumo is a seasonal fruit and in Nigeria, you find them at every market in urban and rural towns particularity in the months of December to April when they are in season. Traditionally, the fruits are not harvested from the trees, but left to drop naturally to the ground before they are picked. They are rarely used in cooking but rather, when ripe, they are eaten raw as snacks.
The star apple tree secretes a whitish sap/latex which gives the pulp/flesh a chewing-gum like texture!
Star apples are a rich source of calcium, with each serving providing up to 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). This fruit also contains good amounts of vitamins A and C (higher, in fact than levels found in oranges or guava). Star apples are also quite rich in iron (a mineral the body needs daily).
According to a report published by the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, the leaves of the star apple tree and to some extent the flesh of the fruit itself, possess some chemical nutrients which have similar properties to insulin found in the body, and believed to effectively reduce blood sugar levels. This property makes the leaves/fruits useful medically, for the treatment of type two diabetes though further research is being carried out.
Some other traditional uses/remedies of the star apples (including fruits, leaves and bark) include:
- Reduction of inflammation associated with laryngitis (sore throat) and pneumonia
- Treatment for hypertension & heart problems
- Antibacterial properties useful in the relief of tooth abscesses, intestinal/stomach upset, skin infection and diarrhoea.
Star apples are rich in dietary fibre. Eating up to 3-5 fruits can give a feeling of being full and keep dieters from over-eating and consequently controlling calorie/food intake thereby helping to control/manage weight.
Nutritional Data (100g of pulp/flesh only)
Calorie - 61 kcal
Carbohydrate of which sugars) - 11g
Protein - 2g
Fat - 0g
Fibre - 3g
Vitamins: - A, C
Minerals: - Iron, Calcium
|Agbalumo on display in a local market|
(pic courtesy -omonlasgidi.tumblr.com)
Wondering how to use this fruit in your everyday cooking, check out my post on Agbalumo Ice-cream cake. Also check out Agbalumo Gum Balls.