Classie Parker is a healer. However, she works her magic through the most unlikely of means – canning. In fact, she’s taught more than 4,000 people across the New York metropolitan region how to can their own food. She says, ”I remember the times when the family got together to can. I called it the canning party. Everything you needed to know about integrity, guts, and the meaning of life was in the conversations in that kitchen, if you would just listen. My grandmother, Emma Ramsey, taught me that cooking and canning were worth more than eating and surviving. The art of slow cooking — and being together — aids in the emotional well-being of the soul. And I am at my best when I am canning and passing on the gift of canning. ”
In honor of Classie’s acts of community activism, she is being commended by Just Food, a New York City organization that has been connecting local farms to NYC communities and neighborhoods for almost 20 years, at their LET US EAT LOCAL event in September. To get your own taste of Classie’s magic, here’s a recipe that she was generous enough to share, handed down by her grandmother.
Classie Parker’s Red Pepper Relish
7 cups of chopped sweet red peppers
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
6 cups of sugar
4 cups of vinegar (Apple Cider)
Wash and drain peppers.
Remove seeds and mid-ribs.
Chop finely and measure 7 cups.
Note: If you want red pepper jam, mix in a blender before you chop.
Mix with Kosher salt and let stand 3 to 4 hours.
In a large saucepan, add pepper mix, sugar and vinegar.
Boil until thick and pour into hot canning jars.
Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
According to Classie, it’s best to let the jars sit for 30 days before opening.