In the southern part of the Limburg region in the Netherlands as well as in the bordering areas to Belgium and Germany the Limburgse stroop (fruit syrup) has a very long history.
Originally it was produced in order to preserve the fruit from the local orchards for the winter. The syrup was a high caloric source for the cold season and was besides that very shelf stable and could be kept for many years.
An average family in the region had about 100kgs. of stroop in storage and each village had its local stroop producer.
Unfortunately as a result of industrialization in the 20th century and the urbanization, fruit orchards in Limburg were starting to disappear and with it the stroop production.
The preparation of Limburgse stroop requires besides an experienced producer first of all a balanced mix of different apples and pears, each with their unique taste and different percentages of sugar, pectine and acids.
The artisan producing stroop, called “stroopstoker”, must keep these criteria in mind while processing the apples and pears that are available to him at the moment of production, anytime between August and November. Given this artisanal approach and the use of different fruit sorts traditional Limburgse stroop never tastes the same!
Traditionele en ambachtelijke Limburgse stroop is made of ca. 60% pears and 40% apples which come from traditional apple varieties such as Schaapsneus, Gronsvelder Klumpke, Eysdener Klumpke, Goudreinet, Keuleman, Rode Sterappel) and old pear sorts such as Herfstpeer van Geulle, Legipont, Brederode, Bongertspeer, Gerstepeer, Suikerpeer.
Not only the right ratio and selection of the fruit requires a skilled artisan but also the cooking process, as the sirup is cooked on an open flame and its intensity varies according the different stages of the cooking process.
Before the cauldron is put on the fire, a little bit of water is put on the bottom of the copper kettle which is then filled with pears and apples and covered with a cloth.
While on the fire for 4 to 6 hours (depending on the volume) the heat under the kettle creates steam and causes the fruit skin to break until a fruit pulp is obtained which is then transferred to a wooden press for crushing it even more.
The pulp is then placed in layers, with cloth in between. The generated juice is then only roughly filtered as this gives more body and a stronger taste and transferred back to the copper kettle where it cooks again, depending on the volume and different family recipes for minimum of 4 and up to 15 hours until it is reduced to ca. 15% of the original weight of the fruit.
The experienced “stroopstoker” can check the doneness of the stroop by lifting out the cooking spoon which creates a “V-shaped” drop. Once it has reached the correct density the stroop is immediately bottled.
Four producers in the region have recovered this ancient tradition and learned the original techniques of producing stroop.
Today the syrup is also prepared on new premises – recently set up in the area – with old tools and equipment that have been restored.
A fundamental task for the Presidium – to conserve the biodiversity of the landscape of southern Limburg and the original taste of the stroop – will be to reintroduce old varieties of apple and pear trees.
Southern region of Dutch Limburg and neighboring areas in Belgium (Limburg and Land van Herve) and in Germany
Coen Eggen/Ambachshoes, Kelmonderstraat 51, 6191 RD Beek, Tel. +31 464376472. email@example.com
Roy Eussen, Rue de Remersdael 94, B 4852 Hombourg, België, Tel. +31 651608979, firstname.lastname@example.org
Annemarie e Rik Steinschuld-Franssen, Hans e Julienne Franssen-Kerckhoffs, Koulen 12, 6343 CJ Klimmen, Tel. +31 640044988, email@example.com
Mart e Magiel Vandewall, Dorpsstraat 140, 6251 ND Eckelrade, Tel. +31 434081841, firstname.lastname@example.org