How the Flashfood app, and creative strategies, help Lancaster County home cooks preserve food before it expires | Food

Every now and then Michele Keen will rating a complete crate of bananas for $5.

Roughly 15-plus bunches are in there. They might be previous their prime, however they aren’t rotten, she says.

“They’re perhaps a bit of too yellow with some recognizing …” says Keen, who will rapidly spring into banana prep motion. “Once I get a type of? Even when I wasn’t baking that day, I will likely be.”

Cue the banana bread and banana muffins. Keen calls her Quarryville next-door neighbors to return seize some bunches, sends others residence with household and pops one or two bananas in her granddaughter’s lunch field. The remainder she vacuum seals and sticks within the freezer for future smoothies and shakes.

Keen finds these bananas on Flashfood, an app that enables customers to browse meals gadgets approaching their “finest earlier than” date, purchase them at a reduction and decide them up in retailer.

It’s certainly one of a number of apps alerting clients of such alternatives, and with Lancaster County’s lengthy heritage of meals preservation, some native residence cooks are utilizing the offers as a possibility to get inventive within the kitchen.

In a flash

Carlisle-based Large introduced final summer time that the Flashfood app would, by Fall of 2021, be rolled out chain-wide throughout about 170 Large and Martins shops.

That call adopted a profitable pilot program kicked off in Could 2020 with simply 4 shops — all in Lancaster. To increase the take a look at, one other 33 shops had been added in December 2020 – about eight of these in Lancaster County.

“Along with having a number of shops in shut proximity to 1 one other, the Lancaster market permits us to check and measure engagement with the Flashfood partnership throughout a various buyer base,” says Ashley Flower, Large spokesperson.

Mandy Leggett, a frequent Flashfood shopper from Conestoga, suspects a sure Lancaster County mindset in all probability didn’t damage with pilot location choice.

“There’s undoubtedly a mentality right here. We’re simply natured to protect issues,” Leggett says. “Whether or not that’s canning or dehydrating … making jams. No matter. Folks love making that type of stuff round right here.”

Within the rising season, households like hers have ample alternative to just do that with cheap bulk buys from produce stands or by reaching into their very own gardens. Leggett says Flashfood is for her household of 5 filling within the gaps within the winter.

She’s been posting footage of her Flashfood hauls on the Fb web page for Chapel Hill Forge, the blacksmithing, metallic fabricating and signal enterprise she runs together with her husband, Zad.

Their followers just lately noticed some apple scraps leftover from a Flashfood journey soaking in white vinegar to change into apple cider vinegar, citrus peels soaking in vinegar to make cleansing answer and extra citrus peels soaking in vodka to make orange extract.

“I simply get the most cost effective vodka that they’ve on the liquor retailer, since you don’t want to make use of the Gray Goose or something like that,” Leggett says. “Simply let it sit there for two, 3 or 4 months … then use it for baking, or flavoring dishes.”

Leggett says orange and lemon peels are excellent for such initiatives for the reason that household’s egg-laying chickens don’t look after these citrus scraps. The chickens will, nonetheless, devour what’s nonetheless connected to strawberry stems. Flashfood hauls are decreasing their seed payments.

From raisins to cleaning soap

Leggett admits that taking advantage of massive portions of produce that’s on its final legs can take some creativity.

“I received tremendous fortunate and paid $5 for six baggage of grapes,” she says. “I assumed there have been solely three in there, however three had been type of hidden within the image. I used to be like, ‘Man, what am I going to do with all of those?’”

The household ate some grapes recent and froze some for fast summer time snacks.

“The remainder of them we threw on the dehydrator trays and we made probably the most superb, finest raisins I’ve ever tasted,” she says. “They’re so yummy heat. And the others we simply put in a mason jar on the counter. They’re only a nice snack.”

Leggett additionally acted quick on a complete field of Flashfood pomegranates for $5.

She harvested all of the seeds and can use these on oatmeal. She juiced some and mixed that liquid with yogurt constructed from milk of their just lately acquired goats. She poured that combination into silicone molds to make frozen treats for the children.

Then she put the thick pomegranate peels and membranes in her dehydrator for about 24 hours earlier than grinding these up into powder.

“My plan is to make use of that in face washes as an exfoliant,” she says. “And I plan on making goat milk cleaning soap. So, there’s an exfoliant for that, too.”

She might have used the powder to make a drink.

“However, frankly, it’s actually not that tasty,” she says. “So we’re going to go together with the exterior advantages from the pores and skin and the membranes.”

Frugal creativity

Deciding use a considerable amount of one thing that should be handled rapidly is definitely not new to frugal and inventive Lancaster County residents.

Residence gardeners know the generally overwhelming abundance of zucchini season. And lots of have lengthy been deciding what to do with massive too-good-to-pass up bargains that pop up at shops like BB’s Grocery Outlet shops (together with a Quarryville location), which specialise in salvage and surplus merchandise. However the thought is getting a brand new dose of on-line consideration with the arrival of apps like Flashfood.

There are others. Too Good To Go, for instance, is an app that began in Denmark, expanded in Europe then launched in america in 2020. It lets clients browse for “shock baggage” of unsold meals from eating places, bakeries, cafes and grocery shops.

Too Good To Go launched in Philadelphia final February and Baltimore, Maryland, in November, bringing the overall U.S. metropolis rely to about 13. Spokeswoman Ivy Chiou says there aren’t any instant plans to increase to Lancaster.

Toronto-based Flashfood says its app is in additional than 1,100 grocery places all through the U.S. and Canada and notes on its web site that the concept began when the founder received a telephone name from his chef sister who had simply thrown out $4,000 price of meals from a catered occasion.

“This appeared too onerous to dismiss as a standard on a regular basis prevalence, but, that was the norm within the meals and grocery industries,” notes the web site.

Flower says Large, since launching the Flashfood program, has “rescued” 1 million kilos of meals. It doesn’t, she says, lower into donations to organizations that serve folks experiencing meals insecurity.

“We assist meals banks in some ways, each financially and thru our strong product donations,” Flower says. “Flashfood is a approach for us to have the ability to cut back much more meals waste as sometimes we’re unable to donate every part that’s leftover as a consequence of logistics, storage and meals that’s quick approaching its finest earlier than date.”

Flashfood doesn’t change present packages like Large’s Meat the Wants program, which supplies hundreds of kilos of protein to meals banks annually, she says.

“As well as, we’ve shared data on Flashfood with our starvation reduction companions, which they in flip share with their shoppers as a useful resource,” Flower says.

Instruments for storage

Leggett want to see extra Lancaster County shops get on Flashfood and extra customers making the most of it. Granted, having some tools makes that simpler.

“When you’re going to get it within the type of hauls that we get, then you definately’re going to wish one thing,” she says, including that is perhaps a chest freezer or a dehydrator.

“With the dehydrator you are able to do short-term storage, like six months to a yr, in all probability,” she says.

You could find an excellent a type of for round $150, Leggett says. Freeze dryers – which she says can protect meals for 25 to 30 years – are significantly pricier and might run round $5,000, she provides. Leggett solely is aware of one couple with a type of.

“My dad and mom have a freeze dryer and we’ve been taking full benefit of that,” she says.

“Folks all the time have a look at freeze dried meals and suppose, ‘Nicely that is type of odd,’” Leggett says. “They suppose house meals – like if you went to the North Museum (in Lancaster) as a child and received freeze-dried ice cream.”

However freeze-dried and dehydrated meals might be implausible for automobile snacks or so as to add into meals, she says.

“We’ll freeze dry peppers they usually’re superb for fajitas and tacos once we can’t get recent peppers out of the backyard,” she says.

Pandemic inspiration

The Leggetts have been dwelling on what they name their homestead in Conestoga for about six years.

“We’ve been canning as a pair for nearly all the time we’ve been collectively. Like 10 years,” she says. “However we actually kicked it into overdrive when the pandemic hit.”

They’re nonetheless studying how finest to protect massive quantities of nearing-its-use-date produce. Not every part she buys on Flashfood is bulk.

“We received a coconut final week. So random,” she says. “And it was an excellent little residence college undertaking for us. We watched a YouTube video on crack a coconut and extract the juice.”

Leggett stresses the app isn’t only for large hauls.

“You don’t should get 20 quarts of strawberries in a shot,” she says. “If your loved ones goes to eat a quart of strawberries, a loaf of bread and a bag of potatoes in a single week, you possibly can nonetheless lower your expenses on simply these three issues.”

Keen says that’s extra her Flashfood fashion.

“One field I noticed the opposite day had carrots, onions and a half a bag of potatoes…,” she says. “You may carry it residence and proper there, there’s the bottom of a stew.”

She grabbed some Oscar Mayer bologna that wasn’t going to go old-fashioned for greater than per week.

“That’s what my husband is taking to work this week and it value me $1.65,” she says. “You simply have to look at. Some issues change every day. Relying on the date it is perhaps on there just a few days or somebody would possibly snatch it up.”

Keen ceaselessly scans Flashfood offers on her telephone – wanting primarily on the Large places in Quarryville, the Buck, Willow Avenue and the Large Direct in Lancaster. The latter is the place she’s nabbed these crates of bananas.

She says Flashfood offers appear to be going extra rapidly just lately because the app good points extra publicity. Flashfood affords credit score incentives when a brand new buyer makes use of an present buyer’s code.

Keen says she’s talked it as much as all her buddies as she is aware of how helpful it has been for her.

“It’s actually simply one other method to save a greenback on this world the place the costs are simply getting crazier,” she says.

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How the Flashfood app, and creative strategies, help Lancaster County home cooks preserve food before it expires | Food

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