Desert Raisin

 Solanum centrale

Solanum centrale

 
 

common name

Kutjera, Bush Tomato

traditional use

Bush tomato has a reliable history of traditional use, noted in one report as ‘probably the most important of all the Central Australian plant foods’. Aboriginal names vary depending on language group but include akatyerr, akatjurra, katyerr, kampurarrpa and yakajirri.

part used

Berries.

Correct plant identification is essential, as there are closely related species which produce poisonous fruits. Green fruits be avoided because they contain toxins similar to those found in green potatoes.

Yellow and mature dried fruits have very low, acceptable levels of the toxin.

seasonality

The traditional way of harvesting is to collect the sun dried fruits of the small bush in the autumn / winter months. Commercial cultivation with irrigation has extended this period.

flavour profile

It has a distinctive raisin / caramel introduction with a strong spicy aftertaste.

uses

While the mature yellow fruit can be eaten fresh, bush tomato is usually used in its dried form. It is ideal for chutneys, curries, salsas and as a crust on meat. Ground, it can be found in bread mixes, herb blends, pasta, relishes, dressings, sauces and dukkah.

Bush tomato is one of few native foods reported to contain selenium, a rare mineral which plays a key role in the metabolism and has antioxidant properties. Bush tomato has superior antioxidant capacity compared to the blueberry, which is renowned worldwide as the ‘health-promoting fruit’. Antioxidants are believed to hold a number of benefits for human health, potentially preventing and delaying diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune and cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Bush tomato is also rich in iron and contains vitamin E, folate, zinc, magnesium and calcium, and has a high potassium:sodium ratio which may be researched to see if it may help to reduce hypertension. Fresh berries also contain Vitamin C.