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Bush tomatoes (bot.: Solanum centrale) or wild tomatoes are shrubs related to cultivated tomatoes that are native to the deserts of Central Australia. They grow up to 1 m high. The small yellow fruits dry on the bush before they are harvested by hand. Dried bush tomatoes look similar to raisins and are often called bush raisins or desert raisins. The best-known Aboriginal names are kutjera, akatjurra and yakatjiri and this spice is often sold under these names. For Aboriginal people living in the deserts bush tomatoes traditionally constituted an important food source. Today it is an important source of income for many Aboriginal communities. The fruits were eaten raw, strung on thin sticks to dry, or ground and mixed with water to form large discs. Nowadays bush tomatoes are a popular Bush tucker spice. They are sold whole or ground and used in sauces, marinades, and added to bread and spice mixtures.

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Use of bush tomatoes as a spice

Bush tomatoes taste like dried tomatoes and caramel with a slightly bitter aftertaste. They go well with all tomato-based recipes and spices like mustard, thyme and coriander. From the Australian spices lemon myrtle, wattleseed and bush pepper are good partners. Bush tomatoes may be used whole, chopped or ground. They re-hydrate during cooking and may be used as a thickener in some recipes. The amount of used bush tomato depends on the recipe and preparation method. Between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon per 500 grams of other ingredients may be used. On a cheese platter or with tapas bush tomatoes may be served whole.

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