Before I started helping Talidra, the BBBS (Big Brothers Big Sisters) gave me a book of events to do with children in Jacksonville, FL. Come to find out, I am only allowed school visits for whatever reason and decided to try some of the events in the book with Caleb. One was the Canning Center, an extension office of the University of FL. They have a community garden and a huge kitchen, as you can see, that people use with the help of volunteers to learn how to can veggies or jams properly in any amount or bake for a wedding.
I have a beginners’ garden with a variety of twenty small underdeveloped plants, some even with one fruit or vegetable on them so I was anxious to be introduced into my future world where I have blooming plants all season and great meals all winter. Caleb’s parents canned as he was growing up and still do so they were anxious for me too. Terri, Caleb’s mom, is always so helpful and kind; the opposite of the Hollywood or redneck version of mother-in-law.
We arrive early and park. We see signs to enter in any other door but the one that we arrive at. We find one that is open and eagerly approach as we are redirected to where we are supposed to be. Apparently, just because you see people going in and out of a door doesn’t mean the next person can be you. We arrive to air conditioning, smiles, and refreshments.
There was a speaker that introduced us to recipes, tools, equipment, and the time needed and necessary for fun and safe food preserving techniques. She was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. During some Q & A we were given some recipes to try at home and then escorted into the kitchen where some nice volunteer ladies showed us how to mix, cook, and can jam. Then a man showed us how to seal the cans in big silver pots. The pots seal the mason jars and there is an assembly line heater that seals metal cans. It seems like a heck of a process, but one that seems necessary for a serious gardener or one that prefers to save money and enjoy peak season veggies year round.