The African Star Apple is a fruit native to West Africa and is particularly prolific in Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Togo and Ghana. It occurs seasonally in West Africa between the months of December to April, and is known by a few names; Agbalumo, Udara, Udala etc.
Traditionally, the fruits are not harvested from the trees, but allowed to fall naturally off the tree before they are picked. The African Star Apple is usually eaten raw, as a snack. Some of the most noticeable properties of the African Star Apple are its colour and its taste.
The African Star Apple is a bright orange fruit that has got 4 to 6 seeds within it. The seeds lie side-by side within the fruit, such that when the fruit is cut on a cross-section, the seeds are arranged in a star formation, hence the name of the fruit.
The bright orange colour darkens as the fruit ripens, so it is best to look out for darker orange-skinned African star apples as these will most likely be sweeter and less tart than its brighter coloured counterparts.
The African Star Apple tree and fruit secretes a whitish sap which gives the flesh of the fruit a chewing gum-like texture.
The taste of the African Star Apple is quite complex. Depending on the stage of maturity of the fruit, it can be terribly sour or amazingly sweet. Ripe African Star Apples are savoury-sweet and tart in taste. This complex taste lends itself well when paired in sweet dishes as a dessert or added to a cocktail.
From a nutritional perspective, the African star apple is a rich source of calcium, with each serving providing up to 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). The 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.
In addition, the African star apple has been found to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure and for diabetes.