In an old monastery in Diepenveen in Overijssel, near Deventer in the Netherlands, Rob and Marin process the harvest of old varieties standard fruit trees from the IJssel region in an artisanal way to a beautiful dry cider, IESSEL Cider. In that way, this beautiful product contributes to the preservation of the standard fruit orchards in the IJssel region and the old varieties of fruit found there.
"Look," says Rob, one of the two founders of Overijssel-based Iessel Cider, "that's what I do it for." He points to the richly filled apple trees in the orchard with old variety standard fruit trees. "Otherwise, all that beautiful fruit goes to waste." In addition to his work for Iessel Cider, Rob is also, or perhaps especially, committed to the old standard orchards that used to have a prominent place in the landscape around the IJssel, a river that runs through the centre of the Netherlands. "With the “IJsselboomgaarden foundation” we are trying to preserve these special old orchards and partially replant them, because they really belong in this landscape," Rob explains.
There is a lot of fallen fruit under the trees. "We do not use those," says Marin, the other founder of Iessel, "they rot too quickly due to bruising, we actually pick the apples for our cider." In the harvest season, they go picking almost every weekend with a group of volunteers. "We try to make a nice mix of apple varieties, preferably with a bit of acid in them, because we make a dry cider," Marin continues, as he walks with a ladder under his arm to the next apple tree that has branches heavily loaden with beautiful red apples. "We use old apple varieties that you won't find in the supermarket."
In the cider mill, just down the road in an old monastery, the harvest is processed into cider. In one of the monastery's barns are crates full of apples. "After a year, the result is a fantastic dry cider, made entirely from apples from standard fruit trees in the IJssel region. "That way you preserve the old landscape, and you have a beautiful, traditionally made product with its own taste."