The name ‘De Vergeten Appel’ has been influenced by the way I collect my apples. The apples I use to create my cider originate from small orchards and private properties where they are not picked or used. They are the old classical Dutch varieties. I also make special cider for locations that own their own apple trees. For example, I create cider for the governor’s house in Heusden, made exclusively from apples grown in their very own garden.
The story of how my apple cider making started can be told, in a nutshell, it is: ‘because of a dog’. In 2009 I was given an apple tree from my neighbour. He had planted the tree but soon discovered that his dogs were afraid of the tree as they no longer dared to enter the garden. In 2014 the tree was completely full of with apples, completely! There were more apples than I could ever eat or make pies with. Whilst brewing beer with a friend I raised my idea about doing something with all those apples… beer with apples… or cider!
Actually it was only meant to be a small experiment, but by involving another good friend, it got a little bit out of hand. Via the friend we were given the opportunity to pick extra apples from an allotment in Hulten…
Where the experiment was only supposed to produce 20 litres, we ended up with a group of neighbourhood friends standing on the pavement pulverising and squeezing the mountain of apples. This resulted in more than 120 litres of apple juice. Then we experimented with different kinds of fermenting techniques to decide which technique gave the best taste. It was such a success, that I decided to make the cider the following year, under the name ‘De Vergeten Appel’.
To make the process easier, I bought better equipment. My 8 litres press was replaced by one that could hold 20 litres… which felt like an enormous step forward. Bigger fermenting barrels with a capacity of 60 litres and a manual apple crusher. This proved to work much better than crushing or pulverizing the apples with a cement mixer and a drilling machine. By the winter of 2015, 580 litres of juice was fermenting in my shed, juice that had come from apples that I had picked in places where the apples were going to waste.
The Dutch cider world was an unknown world to me. Only when Ciderlab brought to my attention the International Cider festival in Rotterdam, did a whole new door open for me. In 2016, I made my debut at the festival introducing my cider, which was very well received.
In 2016 I was faced with a challenge: to improve the production using my current equipment. With a juicer that could hold 20 litres and a manual apple crusher, making 560 litres of juice is very hard work. You are talking about a large number of apples that you have to crush and press by hand… With help from my family, I have been able to make the investment and purchase all the required equipment to improve the production and my cider.
Now I own a juicer with a capacity of 130 litres, an electrical apple crusher, 3 stainless steel barrels of 500 litres, a bottling machine and cold storage. The cold storage serves as a storing room for the apples, as well as a fermentation room. Where you are guaranteed a constant temperature, which gives me more control in the fermenting process and therefore the ultimate taste of the cider.