Armenian Watermelon Rind Preserves (մուրաբա) - Earth to Veg
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Armenian Watermelon Rind Preserves (մուրաբա)

Armenian Rechel (preserved fruit) has roots in the Arabic murabba, which was popularized across Western and Central Asia by the Ottoman Empire. This version is a traditional variety made from Watermelon Rinds. A perfect zero-waste way to use up those leftover melon rinds.

armenian watermelon murabba

What Does Watermelon Rind Taste Like?

These watermelon rind preserves were super tasty! The rind itself is slightly sour from the vinegar and orange juice, but the main flavour is sweet. Because of the long simmering time, the naturally crunchy rind becomes a little bit chewy, almost like a gummy.

peeled and cubed watermelon rind

Because the rind itself is so neutral, it doesn’t have any watermelon flavour. Even though I left a little bit of flesh on the rind (mostly to give it a pretty colour), I couldn’t taste the watermelon at all. If anything, it has an almost citrusy flavour from the orange juice.

Uses

Tzmeroog rechel tastes pretty good anywhere you would usually use a fruit preserve:

  • Spoon a few pieces of rind along with a drizzle of the sugary syrup onto a piece of bread, pancake, or waffle… or even French toast
  • Mix a generous spoonful or two into fruit salad
  • It makes for a delectable topping on a jar of overnight oats
  • Spoon it straight out of the jar! (I’m guilty of doing this more than once… it’s good stuff okay?)
syrupy watermelon rind preserves on toast

And what about the syrup? If you have finished all the watermelon pieces and still have some syrup left, you can use them to:

Please note that the syrup has a slightly acidic profile, so keep that in mind when using it to sweeten things.

What is Rechel (Murabba)?

Rechel or murabba (մուրաբա) is a category of Armenian sweets which are made by canning various fruits in sweet-sour syrup. Basically the Armenian word for preserves.

armenian watermelon rind jelly

Besides watermelon rind preserves (ձմերուկ, tzmeroog), other varieties include:

  • Apricot (ծիրան, dzerani)
  • Green walnut (կանաչ ընկույզը, kanach ynkuyz)
  • Pumpkin (դդում, tutum)
  • Rose petal (վարդ, vardi)
  • Quince (սերկլիլ, serklil)
  • I’ve even seen a recipe for eggplant rechel!

According to an Armenian woman in this article, some traditional recipes for murabba call for addition of lye. I think the purpose of this is to do something similar to adding pickling lime, which preserves the crispness of a canned product. However, lye is difficult to get a hold of these days and it can be dangerous if handled improperly, so I left it out. The beauty of using watermelon rinds for this recipe is how hard they are to overcook—even after an hour of simmering, they still had a bit of crunch to them! So unlike more delicate fruit, watermelon rind holds up to cooking really well. I loved the texture of this tzmeroog murabba, even without the addition of lye.

Murabba in Other Countries

armenian tzmeroog rechel preserves

Murabba is not only an Armenian food! In fact, the original word comes from the Arabic muraba (مربى), which means “jam.” Unlike the Western conception of jams, however, murabba almost always contains whole pieces of fruit. It’s a well-known product in many Eurasian countries, such as India, Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia. It’s also similar to the Eastern European varenye (варенье), the Bulgarian slatko (сладко), and the Romanian dulceaţă.

However, different nations have different preferences in the kinds of fruits they prefer. Preparation methods also vary from country to country.

For example, in India, mango and bael are popular, while in Georgia, you can expect to find peach murabba, and carrot murabba is common in Persian cuisine.

This watermelon rind variety is cooked in a typical Armenian style. It’s not limited to Armenia, although it is one of the favourites in the country.

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armenian watermelon rind preserves

Armenian Watermelon Rind Preserves

5 from 6 votes
Author: Kelly
Course: Dessert, Spread, Topping
Cuisine: Armenian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 24 tbsp (15g each)
Calories: 39kcal
Cost: $0.03 per serving
Reduce food waste by saving watermelon rinds to use in this delectable Armenian watermelon preserves recipe (known as tzmeroog rechel or tzmeroog murabba).
Print Recipe

Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cubed watermelon rind see Note 1
  • tsp fine salt or 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ cups water
  • ¾ cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup orange juice can substitute with water + 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  • Add watermelon rind, salt, water, and vinegar to a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for an hour.
  • Rinse rind thoroughly with cold water and drain. When cool enough to handle, give them a squeeze to press out excess water.
  • Add orange juice and sugar to the saucepan and return to high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, stir in the rind.
  • Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins darkening to a golden colour, as if it's starting to turn into caramel (see Note 2). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then ladle into a glass jar.
  • At this point, you can either can it to preserve it for longer, or just store it in the fridge, where it will be good for a month.

Notes

  1. Make sure to peel and slice the watermelon rinds into no larger than 1-inch pieces. You can leave a little sliver of pink flesh on the rind if you’d like.
  2. Make sure you remove it from heat before the colour gets too dark. You don’t want the syrup to actually turn into full-on caramel because then it’ll solidify when cooled!

Nutrition

Calories: 39kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.003g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 72IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.04mg
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11 thoughts on “Armenian Watermelon Rind Preserves (մուրաբա)”

  1. 5 stars
    Again, your recipe and technique is the best. My friend made another recipe and I hated it! The only thing I would add is a sort of estimate of how long the second step should actually like you do with the first step. This time I made the following varieties:
    Cardamom<<the depth of flavor was amazing
    Rosemary<<haven't had on anything yet, but not sure about this one
    Red pepper flake <<the bomb
    Black pepper<<just tastes like the original
    Star anise + cinnamon<<great combo
    Best of all=red pepper flake!
    I cooked the first step in the pressure cooker cuz the pan is 8 qt. & five lbs of rind is a lot. I set it for one hour and then did natural release which took 55 minutes. The fruit is a little softer, but everything worked fine. The second step with the oj and sugar took 35 minutes to boil down and start thickening. Probs because there was so much in there. It's a lot of work, so I wanted to make it count — and it's so worth it! Thanks again!

    1. Ok this is amazing. I’m in awe of the varieties of different spices you tested. Thank you for sharing your notes!! I’m going to try making my next batch with red pepper flakes. I can imagine it would taste a bit like red pepper jelly?!

  2. 5 stars
    Comment- we use this on crusty bread with peanut butter, on cottage cheese, a topping for ice cream, over jalapeno cream cheese as a dip. 🙂 I’m addicted obviously.

    One questions – Does this need to be refrigerated? I’m making a lot.

    1. Wow, watermelon rind preserves over jalapeno cream cheese sounds heavenly.

      Yes, it does need to be refrigerated. It seems to last for quite a while although I haven’t ever had any leftovers past three weeks.

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times and feel like it is the best combination of sugar to oj and the other ingredients. I have also made this with other recipes, but I feel yours makes the best tasting with the best texture. I will add that I put a cinnamon stick in the oj and sugar mixture, but remove it, and then I jar it up with a star anise pod to add a pretty little touch. Thanks for your recipe! It’s delish!

      1. 5 stars
        Crossed fingers – I’m making 5 lbs of this today – I’m praying that I’m measuring everything! 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe. One jar is going to have Cardamom as my husband’s family puts that in a lot of recipes. Worth a try. I shared your recipe with a FB group that was wondering what to do with rind. No question! 🙂

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