Dried Strawberries

strawberriesOne of the finest things I’ve done in my life was leading several MOOSEWATCH Expiditions on Isle Royale. Moosewatchers hike the back country of Isle Royale for a week collecting data for the longest running predator/prey study in the world. Besides being able to contribute to this noble research project, and besides being able to hike where few can on Isle Royale, I’ve met some very fine people on these trips… people who have changed my life in positive ways.

When my left knee started acting up, I reluctantly had to pass on the MooseWatch expeditions. Isle Royle’s back country is no place to become immobilized because of a blown knee, and having the leader be the immobilized one would be especially troublesome.

I still wanted to contribute something to the study, even if I could no longer do the hikes. So I came up with… dried strawberries. The very reasonable cost of the MooseWatch expedition includes food, which is assembled for the crews at the base camp. The food is good if a little bland, and after several days out on the trail, some variety in the diet is most welcome. So when the local strawberries are ripe, we purchase enough to dehydrate and contribute to the MooseWatch project.

We took a trip to Drummond Island in the middle of this year’s strawberry season, and were afraid we’d miss the local berries. (The store bought ones are ok, but for real strawberries, you can’t beat local ones fresh from the field.) On my way home from a trip to Copper Harbor today, I noticed some strawberries on the outside table of our local grower, so I stopped, backed up, and bought 5 quarts. Some we preserved for our own use, but most were meticulously cleaned, sliced thin, and laid out onto the dehydrator racks.

When the dehydrator is turned on, magic fills the air. It is worth it to go outside for a while and forget about the berries, because when you come in, the most wonderful smell is filling the air. My best wishes for the MooseWatch crew that gets these dried berries. May they give you the strength to help solve one of the great scientific mysteries in a beautiful corner of the planet.

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