The Refugee Canning Project has taught me a great many things so far
and I am eager to see what is next. On September 9th, a
group of us gathered at the church building to teach ourselves the
recipe for pepper jelly, which pots work best on the stove and several
of us learned to can. Canning is a science. Does the item you are
canning contain high acid? Then you should use a water bath to process
the jars. Low acid? Pressure canning is for you…follow the
directions for your cooker so you don’t explode.
Let me stop here and share that no matter how many books, blogs, magazines, etc that you may read before canning do not do it without an experienced canner
by your side for the first time. Oh sure! I could talk a great game
but it was all theory. During our first session we learned the pot the
jelly cooks in should be taller than the one we were using because the
solution foams as it boils and will boil over, spilling onto the hot
stove top, making an “interesting” smell in the kitchen, and it will
do it twice because it was not a fluke when it did it the first time.
I also learned if the jelly doesn’t set as firmly as expected, it is
okay to discover “soft serve jelly”. All the flavor but even more
perfect when mixed with cream cheese.
The main things I learned so far is that the people of Northlake will
come together to help anyway they can by donating jars, pots,
supplies, time, knowledge, and anything else they feel will help. I
learned that “too many cooks may spoil the soup” but a team of people
making over 45 pints of pepper jelly in a single session is a
blessing. Most importantly we are a congregation who wish to teach
people to fish. Everyone was concerned no actual refugees were present
in our first session and then as things began to slowly…okay quickly
began to go NOT as planned we were happy our goofs were not witnessed
by those we hope to help.
Next year as the garden produces more than can be consumed the farmers
will have an additional source of revenue because the people of
Northlake care enough to help for a lifetime and not just the present.
“You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which
will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this
ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows
with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry
you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of
Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all
others…” 2 Corinthians 9.11-13