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Canning day and night

Jams, salsas are big hits at farmers markets

While our world moves at the pace of ClickList and Uber Eats, Instacart and Hello Fresh, Audrey Livers, shown, likes to slow down and prepare food the way her 92-year-old grandmother taught her—she preserves food in jars.

“I could can day and night,” says Audrey, who lives with her family in Dixon. From marinara to peach pie filling and green beans to mango salsa, there’s little she won’t can. “We’re going to try soups this year,” she says.

It’s probably no surprise that she’s known around Webster and Union counties, where she sells her canned items at farmers markets. Her best-seller is a peach-apple salsa that starts with tomatoes and includes red and green peppers, brown sugar, peaches, apples and spicy pepper or chili flakes. And if people can’t find her at a farmers market, they can go to the Bells & Whistles Community Market in Morganfield, which keeps many of her products on the shelf. 

Audrey spreads the canning love. She’s taught students at Owensboro Community and Technical College how to can salsa, and students in the Webster County FFA learned to make the tomatoes they grew into salsa.

In addition, “We do a lot of jelly,” she says of teaching students. “Making jelly is pretty easy, and you can set it up in a classroom.” 

After making blueberry jam a few times, Audrey came up with a blueberry-vanilla jam recipe in 2015, and now makes the jam and a sauce for pancakes. “I love jams and jellies; I love playing with new flavors,” she says.

Mama Mia – Here’s Sarah’s Italian Meatloaf recipe

Cooking tips

  • To make this blueberry jam firm, an acidic ingredient needs to be added to the recipe. About 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice will make the texture like traditional jam, but may overwhelm the vanilla flavor.
  • Audrey Livers says the most useful canning tool in her kitchen is her Ninja food processor. It has multiple blades and “is the best for slicing and dicing tomatoes,” she says.
  • Instead of making Italian meat loaf, you can form the mixture into balls and bake them for sandwiches or drop them in marinara sauce for spaghetti and meatballs. 
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