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What’s inside this north-east farm shop’s new £5 mystery food bags?

Castleton Farm mystery bag.

Aberdeenshire’s Castleton Farm has unveiled a new offering for fans of food and bargains – £5 mystery bags. And I for one was keen to see what exactly I could get my hands on.

The team behind Castleton Farm in Fordoun announced on social media earlier this week that they would be selling the bags going forward in a bid to “reduce waste, be more sustainable and pass on savings.”

Available daily from 4-5pm at the firm’s farm shop, they feature a selection of ready meals, cakes or leftovers from the business’ cafe kitchen with five to seven items included on average.

To put the concept to the test, I ventured to the farm shop to purchase a mystery bag and find out just how much money I’d be saving and what they include.

How to get one

Essentially, you should look out for announcements made by the team on the Castleton Farm social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) regarding how many bags are available each day.

At around 4pm (although this time can vary), I spotted an update on the business’ Facebook page stating that there were just seven up for grabs.

There is the option to “bagsy” a bag to avoid disappointment, so that is what I did.

Given that the total number of bags may be even less than this on certain days, I’d highly recommend reserving one.

All you have to do is phone the farm shop on 01561 321155.

I made my way there and around 30 minutes later had arrived at around 4.30pm.

The bags must be collected between 4pm and 5pm.

What was inside?

I waited until returning home before unveiling what items were hidden within. The bag was quite heavy and I stuck my hand inside as if it were a lucky dip.

The first item was a plain scone and to say it was large would be a complete understatement. It was crumbly, too, so I already knew it wouldn’t prove dry.

Hand back in. Another scone. Although it was the same impressive size as the first, this one had been topped with a thick layer of cheese.

The mystery bag and its contents.

While there were only two scones in total, they could easily feed four people.

The remaining item in the sweet line-up was a lemon and coconut slice, again homemade by the team at Castleton. I tucked into it immediately and it was such a treat.

It comprised a citrus lemon and coconut base topped with lemon icing. The two flavours balanced each other out perfectly.

Lemon and coconut slice.

A sausage roll, macaroni and cheese with black pudding crumb and Castle Maclennan oven roasted mushroom pate were all also uncovered.

I couldn’t believe there were three home bakes, let alone three savoury treats as well.

The macaroni and cheese came in a small pot, the perfect size for enjoying alongside the sausage roll.

Macaroni and cheese with black pudding crumb and oven-roasted mushroom pate.

Both were heated up in the microwave and provided the perfect supper to tuck into.

Although I’m not the greatest lover of pate, I kept the tub for someone else to enjoy.

The verdict

All in all, I was more than impressed by the findings in my Castleton Farm mystery bag.

If they all include the same standard of produce as mine, I’m sure others will say the same.

I hope other local businesses follow suit and consider this as an offering going forward.

The plain scone, cheese scone and sausage roll.

General prices of the items:

  • 1x plain scone: £0.75
  • 1x cheese scone: £0.75
  • 1x Castleton Farm lemon and coconut slice: £2.99
  • 1x macaroni pot with black pudding crumb: £4
  • 1x sausage roll: £0.80
  • 1x Castle Maclennan oven roasted mushroom pate: £2.20

Total cost: £11.49

Total savings: £6.49

Castleton also had pies in certain bags on the day of my visit which RRP for £8.95 along with some other goodies, so it can be a real bargain depending on what bag customers receive.

Why did they launch it?

The brain behind the mystery bag concept is Emma Harrison, Castleton Farm’s front of house manager.

She said: “The impetus behind the mystery bags was reducing our overall waste.

“Our colleagues often take home leftovers or items that are going out of date, but unfortunately there are times when we still have products going in the bin.

Anna Mitchell, manager of the Castleton Farm Shop is proud of her colleague Emma for coming up with the idea.

“We have also worked with our local food banks to donate our ready meal range but there are still several items we have which the food banks won’t accept.

“Hopefully this initiative will allow our customers to get a variety of our products at a heavily discounted price.

“This means we can minimise what is ultimately going in the bin but also allow our customers to try something they might not have tried before.

“Plus it’s exciting picking something up and you know you’ll get a surprise in the bag!”

Call 01561 321155 or visit Castleton Farm on Facebook to find out more information.

For more taste tests…