Mom teaches daughters joy of eating garden bounty
By Judy Buhenot Buchenot@comcast.net
Kaitlyn and Kylie help their mother Tracie Schmitt make raspberry freezer jam. | Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon~News
2 to 3 cups fresh raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant pectin
Crush fruit with a potato masher or large flat spoon until there is 1-2/3 cup crushed fruit. Pour into a bowl. Add sugar and pectin and stir until sugar is dissolved. Spoon into jars or other containers that can be frozen with lids.
Leave about 1/2 inch space at the top to allow for expansion when freezing.
Let jars sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Jam can then be put in the freezer for up to a year. When ready to use the jam, thaw in refrigerator.
Use within two to three weeks after placing in the refrigerator. Makes four to six 4-ounce jars of jam.
When most children are hungry, they head to the kitchen to look for snacks.
But when Tracie Schmitt was growing up, she recalls invading her grandma’s garden to find a few pea pods, break off a stalk of rhubarb or pick a handful of ripe raspberries still warm from the sun to munch on until mealtime.
Since her father was a football coach, the family moved frequently, but the one constant in her life was the annual summer visit to her grandma’s house in Kalispell, Mon., in the Flathead Valley near Glacier National Park. The home was about 8 miles from town in a beautiful rural setting with wheat fields and farms as far as the eye could see.
“Grandma had a huge garden, and she got up everyday at 5 to go work in the garden before it got hot,” Schmitt recalls. “She called it her exercise. Most of the time, she would bring in a huge bowl of raspberries for breakfast. She would make oatmeal, and put the raspberries on it with cream and sometimes ice cream.”
Her grandma captured the bounty of the garden by canning the produce and lining up the jars in the cellar of the well pump house.
“One of the other things she always made was raspberry freezer jam,” Schmitt says. “She put the jam in leftover containers like margarine tubs. She never wasted anything. The jam was like eating fresh raspberries. We had it on bread, pancakes, waffles and ice cream.”
Schmitt and her husband, Doug, bought a home in Aurora about 12 years ago and started a family. They moved into the home during a cold November, and Schmitt looked into the snow-covered small back yard wishing she could have a garden. She wanted her children to experience the joy of picking their own food.
The next spring, Schmitt ventured into her new backyard after the snow had melted. She was poking around the flower beds when she saw something that made her rural dreams come true. Popping up from the ground was a raspberry patch planted by the previous owners.
“It was a wonderful find,” Schmitt says. “My kids love to eat the raspberries. Since they learned to walk, they have run out there to check on the raspberries to see if they are ready. Food has so much more meaning when you can see it grow and ripen and then eat it. I think I saw a raspberry ripe out there this morning.”
“I saw it, too,” chimes in her 11-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, “I ate it.”
“You ate it?!” squeals Kylie, her 9-year-old sister.
“There will be more,” Schmitt assures her daughters.
When the elder’s grandma made her freezer jam, she had to cook the fruit before adding the pectin and sugar. However, Schmitt recently discovered instant fruit pectin, which does not require the cooking step.
“It is so easy,” says Schmitt, who encourages others to try her recipe for raspberry freezer jam with their children. “Kids can help and then eat the jam all winter.”
Unlike her grandmother, Schmitt uses cute little jars with fabric liners for her freezer jam.
“They make great little hostess gifts,” she notes.
Although she uses raspberries, she notes that other fruits also can be used in place of the raspberries.
Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact columnist Judy Buchenot at Buchenot@comcast.net.