Botanical Name: Solanum centrale
Species: S. centrale
Common Name: Kutjera, or Australian desert raisin
Names in other languages:
English : Bush raisin, bush tomato, bush sultana
Habitat: Kutjera is native to the more arid parts of Australia. Like other “bush tomatoes”, it has been used as a food source by Central Australia and Aboriginal groups for millennia. Solanum centrale was first described by J.M. Black in 1934.
Kutjera plant is a small bush and has a thorny aspect. It is a fast-growing shrub that fruits prolifically the year after fire or good rains. It can also grow back after being dormant as root stock for years after drought years. The vitamin C-rich fruit are 1–3 cm in diameter and yellow in color when fully ripe. They dry on the bush and look like raisins. These fruits have a strong, pungent taste of tamarillo and caramel that makes them popular for use in sauces and condiments. They can be obtained either whole or ground, with the ground product (sold as “kutjera powder”) easily added to bread mixes, salads, sauces, cheese dishes, chutneys, stews or mixed into butter.
Traditionally, the dried fruit are collected from the small bushes in late autumn and early winter. In the wild, they fruit for only two months. These days they are grown commercially by Aboriginal communities in the deserts of central Australia. Using irrigation, they have extended the fruiting season to eight months. The fruit are grown by Amata and Mimili communities in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, by the Dinahline community near Ceduna, by the Nepabunna community in the northern Flinders Ranges, and on the Tangglun Piltengi Yunti farm in Murray Bridge, and are marketed by Outback Pride.
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 pizza.
The unique flavour of bush tomato is best used in small quantities because using too much will cause the bitter sharp notes to dominate and overpower the fruity, sweet, caramel flavours.Whole bush tomatoes can be added to long,slow-cooked dishes such as soups and casseroles.
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.
A savoury bread flavoured with bold herbs rosemary and thyme can marry well with bush tomato, either baked within or soaked and used as a topping.
Even a spread made with olives and garlic can take advantage of the strong, raisin-like character that blooms from ground bush tomato.
Akudjura (Bush Tomato) also works well as a coating for grilled fish, such as salmon or tuna.
Akudjura (Bush Tomato) combines particularly well with ground coriander seed, wattleseed, lemon myrtle and a little salt for rubbing onto white and red meats before grilling,barbecuing or stir frying.
A tangy pepper steak spice can be made by pounding black and white peppercorns, mustard seeds, salt and akudjura in a pestle and mortar.
The Australian desert raisin fruits (Akudjura ) are rich in vitamin C and lots of health benefits.
Nutritional Value of Kutjera fruit:
Energy 384kJ / 100gm
Protein………1.6 gm / 100 gm
Fat………… 0.6 gm / 100 gm
Carbohydrates. 21.0 gm / 100 gm
Fibre…….. 3.2 gm / 100 gm
Na….. 4.66 µg
Mg….. 160.3 µg
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only.