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Australian Desert Raisin, Wild Tomato, Bush Tomato, Kutjera powder

Solanum centrale

The Akudjura fruits (or the Australian desert raisin) are rich in vitamin C and have a strong, pungent taste of tamarillo and caramel that makes them well-liked for use in sauces and condiments. The Akudjura is closely related to the typical garden tomato (both belong to the Solanaceae family,) and can be found either whole or as a pre-ground powder. The ground product, (sold as "Kutjera powder") is easily added to bread mixes, scones, biscuits, salads, sauces, cheese dishes, chutneys, and stews or mixed into butter. The Akudjura flavor matures on standing or with extended cooking and can be used in addition too, or to replace traditional tomato in tomato-based pasta sauces and pizzas. Becuase Akudjura absorbs liquid and expands during cooking, it acts as a good thickening agent.

You can make your own fresh Bush Tomato Spice from dried Akudjura. First roughly chop and then grind dried Akudjura fruits in a mortar and pestle to a fine powder. The strong flavour of Akudjura spice (Bush Tomatoes) is well suited to lamb and red meats particularly and is great in salsa's, relishes and chutney's. Akudjura can be eaten by themselves as a pungent flavor quencher similar to an olive and are a unique delicacy when served with cheese assortments.

You can add Akudjura directly to any dish but, it can easily over-power and dominate the dish with a sharp, spicy bitterness, so it should be used delicately when applied in this way.

The dried Akudjura fruits are traditionally collected from the small, prickly, tomato-like Akudjura bushes in late Autumn or early Winter. The wild uncultivated Akudjura fruit mature and are available only two months of the year. Today, the Akudjura are grown commercially in the central desert areas of Australia by Aboriginal communities. Modern irrigation techniques have extended the fruiting season to as much as eight months of the year.

This small shrub has pale green-grey leaves with fine hairs and grows very quickly. The green fruits dry out on the bush, turning yellow and wrinkled, resembling raisins when ripe.