Syrup making teaches sweet lessons [with gallery]

Published 12:05 am Friday, October 23, 2015

Crossover Ministry's Todd Sasser pauses in the syrup making process Thursday

Crossover Ministry’s Todd Sasser pauses in the syrup making process Thursday

Even in the cooler temperatures of early fall, it is hot near a syrup kettle.

But quality syrup requires constant tending; constant skimming to remove impurities.

In learning the process of making cane syrup, clients of Crossover Ministries are also living an object lesson, said men’s director the Rev. Red Coleman.

“It’s kind of like living as a Christian,” Coleman said. “You’re constantly cleaning up your heart. If you slow down and don’t focus, it will catch you.”

Clients in the addiction recovery ministry also learn object lessons at the farm where they grew the cane for the syrup, Crossover Ministry Executive Director Todd Sasser said.

Crossover became involved in syrup making several years ago under the tutelage of Robert McClelland.

“Most of the time when you see syrup making, it’s an old log operation,” Sasser said. “Ours is driven by electricity. It handles more cane and speeds up the process.”

After much prayer, Sasser said, the ministry decided to purchase equipment for the process. McClelland donated the kettle, which was installed in a shed at Sasser’s home.

“We don’t own the property where the Crossover garden is,” Sasser said. “If the Lord blesses us one day with property we own, we can move this to another place.”

Meanwhile, the men cut cane; grind it, and stand stirring in the heat until it’s ready to bottle.

Sasser hopes to expand the syrup making process by hosting a family field day for the children of Crossover clients. He wants them to witness biscuits prepared in a wood burning stove, and enjoy them with cane syrup.

“We minister to the men and women in the program, but also to their children,” Sasser said. “Lots of kids around here have fathers in prison. We have started trying to minister to them.”

But for now, there’s cane to be cut and pressed; juice to be cooked. It takes between 500 and 520 stalks to get 60 gallons of juice, which renders six gallons of syrup.

“We can sell it anywhere,” Sasser said. “We have no additives. We will sell syrup, juice, or stalks.”

Currently, the syrup, which is $8 a pint, is available at

Babbie Quick Stop, Dallas Henderson’s Store, Tiger Quick Stop, Crossover Farms, the Opp Farmer’s Co-Op, and the Andalusia Star-News.

Crossover also will deliver larger orders.