Apples and pears are the ultimate autumn fruit here. Juicy, sweet, fresh and handy to eat on the go. In our part of the world they have been popular for centuries in all their rich colours, flavours and shapes. Our fruit growers produce only the best-quality apples and pears thanks to their passion, knowledge and experience passed down from generation to generation. In the fruit-growing region, you can get completely lost among the vast parcels of orchards: not only are tasty crops cultivated here, an orchard is also an ecologically valuable biotope where birds and insects can go about their business. Did you know, for example, that insects and certain birds keep our beloved Jonagold apples safe?
The Flemish fruit-growing region spans the provinces of Limburg and Flemish Brabant and is known as Haspengouw. Every year, this beautiful region attracts thousands of cyclists and walkers who come to marvel at the spectacular blossoms of the apple and pear trees in spring. The pale pink beautiful, delicate flowers are extremely photogenic and are celebrated every year during numerous blossom parties.
Another special scene that you can sometimes gaze at in spring are the fire baskets that are placed in orchards at night when a frost is forecast. The fires create a cinematic tableau once the sun has set, but they are not there to look beautiful: this is how the fruit growers try to ensure that the apple and pear harvest is not lost due to frozen blossoms.
In Haspengouw, before the 1960s, you would mainly find standard orchards. A large number of these historical orchards subsequently disappeared: standard trees were found not to be sufficiently profitable. On a hectare that accommodates a hundred standard trees, three thousand low trees can easily be planted, producing a higher yield and making the trees easier to prune.
A number of apple varieties were therefore grafted onto low trees, and this intensified our fruit cultivation. In recent years, we have seen renewed interest in the standard apple and pear trees, and a renewed love for old varieties with their distinctly sour and sometimes even slightly bitter taste. Apples and pears no longer just have to be sweet; we are once again keen on fruit with character and that will help preserve our ancient cultivars.
In addition to the well-known Jonagold apples and Conference pears, there are many other varieties. Golden Delicious is nice and sweet, making it perfect for apple sauce. And we have Clapps, a pear that is great to stew.
The apples and pears from Haspengouw are not only eaten fresh and crunchy; they are also pressed to create fresh juices and processed to make syrups.
The epicentre of syrup production is Borgloon, earning the local inhabitants the nickname ‘syrup tasters’. For syrup, the apple and pear juice is reduced until it becomes a dark brown spread that is delicious with cheese or simply in your sandwich.