Vietnamese Star Apple or Vú Sữa
The fruit is also known as milk fruit. In Vietnamese, it is called vú sữa, which means “breast milk.” The fruits are grown in the commune of Vĩnh Kim in Châu Thành District, Tiền Giang, Vĩnh Long, Cần Thơ and Bến Tre Provinces, located in southern Viết Nam.
Star apple is probably native to the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean. It is extensively cultivated in tropical Central, South America and the Caribbean – Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Now it is also cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics in Florida, Taiwan, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Viết Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Northern Australia.
Purple star apple has a thick skin attached to a rind. The rind of this fruit is usually a dark purple colour, and the pulp ranges from a light purplish colour to white. The dark purple fruit is 6-12.5mm thick and has soft white milky sweet pulp.
Green star apple has thinner skin and rind. The rind and pulp of this fruit are both a milky white colour. The leathery skin in green fruit is white and it is 3-5 mm thick with soft and sweet pulp.
Both have white, milky, sweet pulp surrounding the 6 to 11 gelatinous, somewhat rubbery, seed cells in the centre which, when cut through transversely, are seen to radiate from the central core like an asterisk or many-pointed star, giving the fruit its common English name.
How to Eat
The round smooth fruit is all of the equal size. A novice will certainly peel the fruit with a sharp knife, which may cause the precious juice inside to be wasted. When using a knife to cut the fruit, it is advisable to cut the fruit into two parts before using a spoon to scoop out the pulp and eaten. It’s delicious in Vietnamese shake (Sinh tố) and used as an ingredient of ice cream and sherbet.
Skin and rind are not edible and has bitter latex. An emulsion of the slightly bitter seed kernels is used to make an imitation of milk-of-almonds.
Star apple is best enjoyed when it has been chilled in the refrigerator. It’s absolutely delicious with yoghurt or cottage cheese! You can also make a fruit salad with star apple and other tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, and papaya. In India, street vendors make a refreshing star apple lassi (smoothie) by blending the ripe fruit with yoghurt and pistachio nuts. In Hawaii, people simply eat fresh star apple as a snack or dessert.
Aside from being a delicious fruit, it has been also traditionally used by ancient people in treating and preventing numerous types of diseases due to its medicinal properties. It has great nutritional value, which is beneficial for the body’s health.
It contains vitamins A, B, C, lysine, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, dietary fibre, amino acids, methionine, and protein. It has minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium.
In fruit, other plant parts such as seeds, leaves and bark are also used as natural remedies for the treatment of various diseases. The cooking of the leaves or bark is used in the Philippines to treat dysentery and diarrhoea. The shell of the star apple tree has traditionally been used to treat malaria and yellow fever. The leaves have emollient properties and are used for the treatment of stomach pain, diarrhoea and skin rash. In Western Nigeria, the cotyledons of the star apple seeds are used for the preparation of ointments for the treatment of vaginal and skin infections.
Another important benefit of star apple is that it helps control sugar levels in the blood and thus is an ideal food for people suffering from diabetes. It was found that the star apple fibre helps keep the blood sugar under control. This fruit is also rich in antioxidants that protect the body against health problems like diabetes, cancer and heart problems.
According to a survey, the star apple consists of an alkaloid known as eleagnine, which shows a powerful antimicrobial activity. This compound has also been found to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The star apple seeds have been used in the preparation of ointments that are designed to fight infections. Researchers also found that the star apple leaves exhibit strong antibacterial activity against common bacteria.