Watermelon rind preserves are made across the world, from south America’s sweet watermelon rind jam to Serbia’s slatko od lubenice preserve. In Ukraine, especially in the Kherson region, which is renowned for its carbon-rich soil and prized fruit and veg, it is typical to use the whole watermelon, with the rind often turned into a tasty preserve by cubing and soaking it in lime or vinegar, then boiling it up with sugar syrup and aromatics. My version is a fusion of these very different recipes, adding lime for acidity and ginger for depth of flavour. It’s delicious on toast, pancakes or yoghurt for breakfast, and also works well as a condiment for spiced vegetables, chicken, pork and oily fish. In most watermelon rind jam recipes, the tiger-striped green exterior is peeled off and discarded, but I enjoy the extra texture you get from the skin, which reduces waste and preparation time while adding bulk. As with most fruit, including citrus, where the exterior is not conventionally eaten, it is advisable to use organic produce to reduce exposure to pesticides.
Watermelon rind jam
If using an organic watermelon, leave the skin on; otherwise, peel and compost the green exterior.
500g watermelon rind, ideally organic
400g sugar, ideally unrefined
1 tbsp grated unpeeled ginger
1 organic lime, finely chopped, or the juice of 3 non-organic limes
Wash and roughly chop the watermelon rind (with or without the skin, depending on whether it’s organic or not), then pulse blend into rough shards and put in a saucepan with the sugar, ginger and lime. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the liquid has evaporated, the mix is sticky and marmalade-like and the rind has turned translucent and become very tender.