Our true desert tomato

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Also bush tomato, desert raisin, kutjera (akadjura/kutjera are generally applied to the dried and ground spice).

It is a very popular plant, mostly wild-harvested, and can be very difficult to source at times.

Latin name: Solanum centrale. This is a true member of the Solanum family, along with garden tomato, capsicum, and so on.


  • The fruit of a sparse desert plant.
  • Intense spicy, caramelly, tomato-ey flavour with a bitter edge.
  • Best used as a spice rather than a central ingredient.
  • When dried and crushed to a powder, is often known as “akadjura” or “kutjera”.
  • Whole berries work well in sauces and flavourings for meat.
  • Akadjura is very good mixed with salt and used to enhance savoury dishes.
  • Mixes well with flour to make breads, pasta, etc.
  • Mixes surprisingly well with coffee to round out the coffee flavour.


  • We’ve not grown it ourselves so this is rather extrapolated from our knowledge of its growing habits!
  • Found naturally in the desert and arid regions of central Australia.
  • Appreciates the ACT region's lack of humidity, but needs to be protected against the daytime winter temperatures and heavy soils.
  • Would do well in a pot, brought inside in winter.
  • Might work as an annual.
  • There is an excellent Bush Tomato Handbook which we are using as our main resource for growing this plant.

Harvesting and storage

  • Bush tomatoes ripen around June each year. They must be fully-ripe before they're edible.
  • They can be used fresh or dried, although there's actually not a lot of difference between both states!
  • Bush tomatoes will keep fresh in the fridge for several weeks.
  • They freeze extremely well.
  • They also dry very well.
  • Dry over several weeks on well-aired trays or baskets, in a cool, dry, well-aired location. Check regularly for mould.
  • They also dry in a dehydrator; it may take up to 24 hours or more to completely dry.
  • When dried and ground, the resultant powder is called "akadjura" or "kutjera" (the name changes depending on the local language).