As a prepper, you probably already know that some weeds are edible. However, if you don’t know to tell the difference between the edible ones and those that are unpleasant – or even harmful – to eat, you’ve probably avoided any experiments with weed cookery.
Many people have already added edible weeds to their diet, though – and some of them believe this goes beyond just being a survival skill. Some weeds can be quite tasty, as well as nutritious. And, if you are concerned with survival, adding nutrients to your diet is a useful bonus.Now, if you are ready to venture out into your backyard or local park to see what parts of nature’s out-of-control landscaping might be edible, read on for some valuable information.
Edible Weeds Can Also Be Bad for You
I don’t want to confuse you before you even get started, but even some edible weeds should never be consumed. So, before we get into testing to see if a weed is edible, make sure to avoid weeds found in the following conditions, whether they are considered edible or not under normal conditions:
- Weeds near a road – many of the plants along a roadway have absorbed runoff and exhaust fumes from the traffic.
- Weeds growing where livestock are kept or where people walk dogs a lot – weeds can be contaminated through animal feces.
- Weeds exposed to pesticides – eating anything contaminated with pesticides can be very hazardous for a person’s health
However, if you follow those rules there are plenty of weeds around that can be very good for you, especially if you find yourself in the position of needing to survive on minimal supplies. They just need to pass the weed edibility test.
The Edibility Test for Weeds in Your Backyard
Fortunately, you can test weeds if you have any doubt about its edibility. Yet, it’s very important to test only one part of the plant at a time. For example, test only the leaves, the flower, or the stem at first.
Here are the steps you should follow to know if a weed is edible:
#1. Physically remove the plant part to be tested from the rest of the plant, rather than leave it attached, to prevent cross contamination.
#2. With your fingers or a tool, crush the part you are testing and then smell it. What you are looking for at this point is a strong or acidic odor. However, don’t stop here, because you can’t rely on odor alone.
#3. Place a portion of the plant (that has been crushed or pressed enough for sap to release) in the bend of your elbow for 15 minutes. If your skin does not react in any way, move on to the next step.
#4. This step must be done after not eating for 8 hours. Drinking water only is fine though. After checking your skin one more time to see if a rash or irritation has developed, prepare a small portion of the plant by cooking it. Some plants contain toxins which are often destroyed during the cooking process. However, if you don’t have the ability to cook it, continue the test with the raw plant.
#5. Hold a small part of the plant against your lip and hold it for a minimum of 3 minutes. At this point you are watching for a reaction, such as itching, burning, or any other irritation.
#6. If you have no reaction at all after three minutes, put that sample against your tongue, without chewing (or swallowing) it, for approximately 15 minutes. You will be looking for the same reactions as above – itching, burning, or irritation of any sort.
#7. Once you are sure there isn’t a reaction when holding it on your tongue, the next step is to chew it thoroughly and hold it in your mouth for approximately 15 minutes, without swallowing.
#8. If there is still no reaction, go ahead and swallow the portion you just chewed, but no more.
#9. At this point, wait for eight hours without eating anything else. If you start to have a reaction of any kind during that time, induce vomiting and drink plenty of water.
#10. After the 8-hour period is over and you have had no reaction or ill effects, eat about ¼ cup of the plant, prepared in the same manner as above. Wait an additional eight hours. Again, if you experience a reaction, induce vomiting and drink water.
After carefully following the above steps in testing the weed, if no reaction has occurred the part of the plant that was tested can be considered edible and safe to consume as prepared in the steps you followed. If you plan on consuming additional parts of the weed, they should each be tested in the same manner.
If you plan to increase the amounts you consume, do so slowly. Keep in mind that any time you consume an unfamiliar plant in substantial portions you risk unfavorable reactions such as nausea, cramping, and diarrhea, especially when eaten on an empty stomach. So, even edible weeds should be eaten in moderation until tolerance is built up.
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