Apples: from Sprenger to compote

The apple takes centre stage in this selection, from the best way to pollinate a fruit tree to the tastiest apple recipes.
We become acquainted with Professor A.M. Sprenger. He was a student at the Rijks Hogere Land-, Tuin-, en Bosbouwschool (as Wageningen University & Research was formerly known) and was a professor there for many years. Among other things, he studied the best way to prune fruit trees in order to increase their fertility and the best storage methods to preserve the quality of the fruit. He actually wanted to become a painter (¹), and in fact also produced beautiful paintings of various apple varieties in addition to conducting important research for Dutch fruit cultivation.

But what are you supposed to do with all those delicious apples? Lotte is an enthusiastic hobby cook. She searched through the books of Special Collections for interesting and tasty recipes and decided on two for making apple biscuits and compote.

(¹) De betekenis van professor Sprenger voor de Nederlandse fruitteelt / J. Veel. In Pomospost (2016) 2, p. 11-15.

Lotte Chef's special: A Tast of the Collections

The ‘Ruby’: Still life with apples

The ‘Robijn’: Still life with apples

Painting of the apple variety Ruby by Albrecht Marinus Sprenger. Dated between 1920 and 1958. Oil on linen.

The painting is also included in the book Appeltjes van Oranje uit 2002: LTO-Nederland, fruitteelt en de kunst, with photographs and still lifes of apples. This book also includes the work of famous painters like Jan Voerman Jr and Henk Helmantel.

Sprenger made such an important contribution to research into fruit cultivation, and apple cultivation in particular, that an apple variety was named after him: Malus ‘Prof. Sprenger’ .

More apple paintings by A.M. Sprenger can be found in the WUR Image Collections.

Prof. ir. A.M. Sprenger (1881-1958), painted by Jan van Puijenbroeck
Prof. ir. A.M. Sprenger (1881-1958), painted by Jan van Puijenbroeck

Pollination trials, circa 1935

Bestuivingsproeven, circa 1935

The photo displays two men pollinating an apple tree, probably in an orchard near Sprenger’s house on the Haarweg in Wageningen. The text with the photo states: Lab for horticultural plant cultivation, May 1935.

The photo album belonged to the former Sprenger Institute, Haagsteeg 6, where later the Horticultural Plant Cultivation department was located. The photo album was donated to Special Collections by A.M. Sprenger’s granddaughter.

From the ‘Soete Gulderling’ to the ‘Soete Kroon’

Van de Soete Gulderling tot de Soete Kroon

Pomologia / Johann K.H. Knoop. Leeuwarden: Abraham Ferwerda, 1758. Plate 7 Coloured engraving.

The image is from the book ‘Pomologia, dat is beschryvingen en afbeeldingen van de beste zoorten van appels en peeren’. The front page of the book bears the signature of A.M. Sprenger, so this copy probably belonged to Professor Sprenger. The plates in ‘Pomologia’ can also be viewed in WUR Image Collections, in the Historic Fruit collection.

The fruit in the pomological description

De vrucht in de pomologische beschrijving

Source: ‘Het leerboek der fruitteelt’  / A.M. Sprenger. Zwolle: Tjeenk Willink, 1948. Figure 6, pp. 52-53. This section describes the shapes of various apples and pears. The textbook was used for many years for teaching in Wageningen.

Recipe with 20 bellflowers

Recept met 20 Bellefleuren

A recipe for making apple compote, from the Handleiding voor het maken van jams, geleien, compotes en vla’s. Baarn, circa 1920. Figure 2, pp. 16-17.

According to this recipe, you only need a few ingredients to make a tasty apple compote, as long as you have 20 bellflowers.

Baking apple biscuits

Appelkoekjes bakken (No. 15.)

This recipe for apple biscuits is found in De Orange Confiturier: gebak-bereider en keukenmeester  / Abrah Reynders. Amsterdam: published by the firm Wed. J. van Egmont in 1752. Pages 15-16.

The recipe looks fairly simple, but after combining the ingredients, they are supposed to be baked in half butter and half lard. Most people today will probably prefer to leave out the lard.

Bon appétit!

Apples: from Sprenger to compote

is part of

Chef’s Special: A Taste of the Collections

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