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Kamias, iba, tree sorrel, cucumber tree, or Averrhoa bilimbi

Kamias or Averrhoa bilimbi

Whenever I see a bunch of plump kamias fruits (it is a close relative of the star fruit and is also known as iba, tree sorrel, cucumber tree, or Averrhoa bilimbi) hanging on the branches of a kamias tree, several things happen all at once. My salivary glands start working on overtime and my mouth pucker up thinking of the intense and almost astringent sourness, a slight sheen of perspiration starts forming on my forehead, and I start to involuntarily approach it while making furtive glances from side to side to see if anybody is watching. The fruit can be simply dipped in a little bit of sea salt and eaten as is, or sun-dried and used in local dishes such as sinaing na tulingan and paksiw na isda. On a more geeky note, the intense sourness of the kamias is due to the oxalic acid content of the fruit. A fair bit of warning, ingesting too much oxalic acid causes problems with calcium absorption (for certain calcium sources) and also forms calcium oxalates in the body and while most are eliminated via various ways normally, consumption of food rich in oxalic acid may be contraindicated for individuals with high susceptibility for kidney stones. Interestingly, there are a lot of other vegetables out there that are high in oxalic acid (some might even surprise you), so cut the poor kamias some slack will you?

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