Not your average tomato! These little sun-dried berries pack an intense flavor punch. Flavor is of a sharp tamarillo - caramilized sun-dried tomato. The berries are wild harvested in the Australian outback after they have been allowed to raisin naturally hanging on the bush in the intense outback sun.
As with many Australian indigenous foods, the flavor is better extracted when crushed, and the crushed form, generally referred to as Akudjura, is more generally available. Although they have a bitter edge, the pungent flavor makes this bush food particularly versatile. Also, as with almost all Australian indigenous foods, bush tomato can be used for both sweet and savory applications.
The ripe fruit looks like a yellowish cherry tomato with a green tinge. Sundrying both reduces the level of alkaloids in the fruit and intensifies the flavor. The resulting dried berry is reddish brown in color. The dried berries are approx.10mm (3/8ths inch), and there are approximately 130 fruits per 100g.
Nutritional: The berries are a good source of carbohydrates and vitamin C.
Botanical: Solanum centrale. They are botanically in the same family as potato and tomatoes.
They are widely dispersed through the Australian Outback, particularly the central Australian desert. Not all varieties are edible. The shrubs are small – up to 30cm ( approx 12inches) with grey to green leaves and attractive large purple flowers with yellow centers. They prefer sandy soil and dry conditions, although they need some rain to produce fruit. The harvest season is usually July to August, but can be affected significantly by rain and drought.
Uses: as a seasoning for soups, vegetables, salads, cheese.
Combination with other Indigenous Foods: Go with: native pepper, wattleseed, bunya nuts, wild thyme, warrigal greens. Do not go with: lemon aspen, wild rosella, limes, riberry.
Other recommended combinations: chili, pepper, brown sugar, tomatoes, onions, eggplants and potatoes. makes a great ice cream, and blended with brown sugar, creates a wonderful crust for lamb.
Note: If used too liberally, the bitter edge can easily predominate. The whole fruit also tends to overwhelm other ingredients while retaining its intense flavor within itself. A maximum ratio of one part akudjura (crushed bush tomato) to ten parts other ingredients is a good guide. 100g of akudjura in 1kg of fresh tomatoes will deliver a predominate flavor of bush tomato.
The dried ground bush tomato expands and absorbs liquid on cooking, and so acts as a good thickening agent.
See Akudjura for information re the crushed version (generally the better way to purchase and use this product).