Watermelon Jam (Варенье из арбуза) is a jam that was enjoyed across the Soviet Union, especially popular in watermelon growing regions in Central Asia. Jams are so popular in the Russian culture. There is even a jam made from watermelon rind, or a jam made from small pine cones which is healthy to eat when you are sick with a cold.
Watermelon Jam is not easily found in the west, definitely not a staple in our grocery stores. Most people I know have never heard of the concept of watermelon jam, or if they have, it’s not real jam and filled with pectin. Homemade seems to be your only option if you want to try it.
Jams of all sorts are very popular in Russia, and usually eaten by the spoonful with a cup of tea. Russian jams tend to be more runnier than the jams we buy here, and usually have small chunks of fruit through it. It’s definitely not a pureed jelly style of jam, although you could make it that way.
You can use a seedless watermelon for this recipe, however I believe that the old fashioned heirloom watermelons with seeds have more flavour. This required a bit more work to take the seeds out.
The method of making this jam doesn’t use pectin or any thickeners. I’ve read other watermelon jam recipes that simply puree the fruit and add pectin, but that’s not real Russian watermelon jam. This recipe doesn’t taste like a watermelon Jolly Rancher, but more of a caramelized honey type of watermelon flavor. This recipe method requires to heat and cool the watermelon several times, but it’s worth the effort. Don’t speed up the cooling by putting it in the fridge, it needs to cool naturally. It’s gonna be an all day affair.
Watermelon Jam is a delicious jam that will bring back memories of your childhood if you’re Russian. Or if you’ve never tried this and are feeling adventurous this summer, give this watermelon jam recipe a try. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Watermelon Jam (Варенье из арбуза)
- 1 kg/2lbs of deseeded watermelon finely diced
- 1 kg/2lbs sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Place the cubed watermelon in a saucepan and add the sugar. Set aside for 2 hours until the fruit softens and watermelon juice is released.
Bring the watermelon and sugar to a boil on medium heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon so it doesn't burn, allowing to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Repeat this process 2 more times. Before you heat the third and final cooking time, add the lemon juice. Allow to cool before eating!
The cook time doesn't include the time to cool down your watermelon. Don't try to speed up the process by putting it into the fridge. This will interfere with the melted sugars and could cause your jam to crystallize.