Baste & Bray is a truly local business. The cold-pressed rapeseed oil is straight from the field and bottled by hand all on the farm near Warkworth – a beautiful town near the coast in Northumberland. Over the past 5 years, the business has exchanged hands but it has stayed true to its Northumberland roots.
Rapeseed oil is quickly becoming a must-have food item for foodies. It’s versatility in the kitchen, as well as its purported health benefits, including EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) & its capacity to be used in the cosmetic industry, has made this product a homegrown wonder against its more exotic competitors of coconut and olive oil.
Did you know that Baste & Bray is also a Great Taste Award winner too!
How did your business begin? Can you tell us your history/origin story?
Chance played a big part in how I became involved in producing rapeseed oil. Baste & Bray was founded in 2016 by Andy and Sara Appleby and their friend Rob Black. Their business was based in Ashington, and the name is a nod to the Northumberland town’s coal mining heritage – ‘baste’ and ‘bray’ are traditional North East mining terms. When they were looking for a local farmer to supply them with rapeseed they contacted my husband and we supplied them and got to know the business really well. When they announced that they wanted to sell the business I thought let’s do this! I took over in June 2020 and with Andy’s help I started pressing and sold my first bottle in August 2020.
What values are at the heart of your business?
We have three very informal values. The first is Customer First. Other than farm-gate sales Baste & Bray is only available through retail and wholesale channels – we don’t have an e-commerce website and the plan is to keep Baste & Bray as a local B2B (business-to-business) brand with plenty of stockists throughout the County. We want to provide a great tasting product with great customer service.
The second is Enjoy the Journey – before I met my husband and moved to Northumberland I was a solicitor and the job could be stressful at times so I feel very lucky to do something I really enjoy.
The third is Look After What We’ve Got and this includes a whole host of things from farming sustainably (the family farm has been a long-standing member of LEAF Marque (Linking Environment And Farming) which essentially means we farm using environmentally sustainable methods), looking after our equipment (which is at least third-hand!) and looking after the Baste & Bray business and the goodwill which came with it.
What does your product range include?
At the moment we offer 3 sizes of cold-pressed rapeseed oil – 250ml, 500ml and 5L refill/ catering packs.
Where can people buy your products?
We are currently stocked in around 45 shops, delis, tourist attractions and online retailers across Northumberland.
How can your customers enjoy your product at its best?
Just by using it in everyday cooking. It is the great British alternative to olive oil (and considerably healthier!) You can use it for frying, roasting, baking, in dressings and marinades or just for dipping.
How are you involved in the local food/drink producer community?
The farm is a member of Produced in Northumberland and Baste & Bray will hopefully become a member in its own right later this year. I have met a number of other producers through Food and Drink North East (FADNE) and was fortunate to obtain some grant-funded consultancy with them.
How does your location influence your business and product range?
Location is integral to the whole business. We make the oil purely from what we grow in our fields. We believe we are the most coastal rapeseed oil producer in the UK and this, we think, gives it a unique taste.
Why do you think people should shop locally?
I think shopping locally is so important for the region’s economy, particularly with Northumberland being such a rural economy. It creates jobs, reduces environmental impact and brings communities together.
What is your favourite local food or drink?
That’s a really hard question as there are so many great and diverse local products available. As someone who is very partial to a bar (or two) of chocolate I’d have to say the Bizarre range from the Chocolate Smiths is up there; the salads from Carnaby’s are always amazing, having a cup of Earl Grey tea at Howick Hall Gardens is one of life’s simple pleasures, and I can’t not mention that we grow some great tasting potatoes on our farm – Buston Potatoes! You can order online & collect from the farm.
How could Foodful help promote your business?
Raising awareness of the brand – we would love to work with other like-minded food or non-food producers (such as those in the skincare and beauty sectors) wanting to use rapeseed oil in their products.
Hat-Tip to the Producers
Many thanks to Karen Park for taking the time to answer these questions and to tell you more about this truly locally grown & produced product. Tell us how you like to use rapeseed oil. Do you use it for frying or for salad dressings? Or are you using it as a beauty product?
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Main Featured Image & First Image is of Coquet Island & Lighthouse by Paul Appleby.