Bush Tomato

Kutjera (Kampurarpa – Pitjantjatjara language, Akatjurra – Alyawarra language) is a small desert plant approximately 30cm in height, with grey to bronze leaves and attractive mauve/blue flowers. It grows naturally through the central deserts from Tennant Creek, NT to Marla, SA.

Part of the tomato family (which includes potatoes and capsicums), there are over 100 species of Solanums (Wild Tomatoes) in Australia. However, only six are known to be edible, and Kutjera – Desert Raisins – are the most well known and certainly the most consumed species of the “bush tomatoes”.

In the red, sandy desert, the plants grow quickly after summer rains, mainly from dormant root stock which can last for many years between favourable seasons. The plant also responds and grows rapidly after soil disturbance (along roadsides) or after bushfires.

This arid lands fruit has been a staple food of the indigenous desert dwellers of Central Australia for many thousands of years. A rich source of minerals, particularly potassium, they are also high in vitamin C. The traditional harvesting method is to collect the sun dried fruits of the small bush in the autumn and winter months. In the dried form, Bush Tomato can be stored for several years.

Traditionally the dried fruits 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

Crushed as well as whole Bush Tomatoes are available at Taste Australia Bush Food Shop

How is it used:

Bush Tomato has a strong sun dried tomato, caramel and tamarillo flavour and aroma which is just delicious in recipes with tomato, cheese or eggs. Also goes well with Salmon and stronger flavoured white or game meats. Can be used as a Dukka or crusting for meats.

The roots of this plant are used by our traditional people to treat toothache. The roots are baked in ash and then peeled and placed on the aching tooth. It is also an important bushfood, but can act as a laxative if too many are eaten.

Bush Tomato Soup with Vintage Cheddar & Chutney Wood Oven Bread Crisps

1 tablespoon Macadamia Nut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp ground bush tomato
4 rashers smoked bacon, diced
10 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1 tspn Ground Pepperberry
Natural yoghurt, to serve
Chopped chives, to serve
Vintage Cheddar & Chutney Wood Oven Bread Crisps
Olive oil spray
80g grated parmesan
Ground bush tomato, to sprinkle


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until softened. Add bush tomato, bacon, chopped tomato and sugar and simmer for 30 minutes. The tomatoes will break down.

Add the stock to the soup and bring to the boil. Season. Using a hand-held blender, puree until the tomato skins are incorporated.

Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with yoghurt and chives.

Serve the Wood Oven Bread Crisps on the side.

Macadamia Satay Sauce

2 large dried red chillies, finely chopped, seeds and all
20 ml white vinegar
20 ml macadamia nut oil
2 clove crushed garlic
80g macadamia nuts
20 ml light soy sauce
20 ml kecap manis
20 g palm sugar
250 ml tinned coconut CREAM
1 g lemon myrtle ground
2 g ground bush tomato
Salt flakes

Roast macadamia in oven for 10 mins at mod heat.
Place the chilli in bowl, splash over the vinegar and leave it to soak for 15 minutes. Preheat a small heavy-based saute or frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil and when it is hot, add the garlic and saute it until softened, then add the chilli and vinegar mix and fry for a few seconds, stirring. Add all other ingredients, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10–15 minutes until the nuts suck up the coconut cream and the sauce becomes thick.

Macadamia Nut Dip

Blend 2 cups Macadamia Nuts, 2 truss tomatoes,1 clove garlic, 1 tspn crushed bush tomato, 1/2 tspn Native Sage, 1/2 tspn Native Thyme and 1 tspn Mountain Pepper and salt to taste

Macadamia Nut Dukkah

Place 130gm chopped Macadamia Nuts and 160gm chopped Hazelnuts onto a baking tray and place in 180C oven until golden brown….approx 15 mins

Remove from oven and grind before adding
2 Tbspn Ground Bush Tomato
2 Teaspoon Ground Lemon Myrtle
2 Teaspoon Ground Mountain Pepperleaf
2 Teaspoon Ground Aniseed Myrtle

Return to oven and bake until aromatic….approx 5 mins
Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze.
Sprinkle on salads, steamed rice, pasta, meat, fish or serve with Bush Damper and Macadamia Nut Oil >> more

Bush Tomato Pizza Sauce

½ brown onion, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200ml white wine
1 can tomatoes, roughly chopped
75ml white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Native Thyme
2 bay leaves (or lemon myrtle leaves)
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons crushed Bush Tomato (Kutjera)
pinch of salt and pepper

Cook onion in a saucepan on low heat with a little oil for 3-5 minutes until soft and little colour.
Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes stirring regularly.
Add white wine and cook until wine reduces to a third of original volume.
Add the can of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, native thyme, bay leaves and bush tomato and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes until it resembles a chunky sauce. Stir vigorously.
Add salt and pepper to taste and cool before using. Remove bay leaves.

Bush Tomato Dip

250 ml sour cream, 125 g cream cheese,
1 tsp lemon myrtle, 1-1½ tbsp ground bush tomato,
1 tbsp very finely chopped onion, ½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar, ¼ tsp ground pepperberry,
1 finely chopped skinned tomato,
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander.

Mix all ingredients. Leave to infuse overnight.

Bush Tomato Relish

8 large truss tomatoes
¾ cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 dessert spoon Native Basil
1 ½ dessert spoons Crushed Bush Tomato (Kutjera)
2 dessert spoons Saltbush
1 dessert spoon Mountain Pepper(also known as Dorrigo Pepper)
1 dessert spoon Sea Parsley
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup finely diced brown onion
½ cup finely diced green capsicum

Core the tomatoes and make a small cross incision at the base of each. Place into a saucepan of boiling water for 40 seconds to blanch. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into iced water.

When cool, peel tomatoes, cut in half, remove seeds and finely dice.

Place sugar and vinegar in a large saucepan over a high heat. Add native herbs and stir until sugar has dissolved. Add chopped tomatoes, onion and green pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and relish becomes sticky. Season with salt and pepper to taste.