You probably already know, as a prepper, that certain weeds are edible. But, if you don’t know how to say the difference between the edible ones and those that are unpleasant – or even dangerous – to eat, you’ve probably avoided some cannabis cooking experiments.
Some people have already introduced edible weeds to their diet, however – and some claim that this goes beyond being just a survival ability. Many weeds can be very delicious and nutritious. And, if it’s about survival, adding nutrients to your diet is a useful bonus.
Now, if you’re willing to venture out into your backyard or local park to see what sections of the out-of-control landscaping nature might be edible, read on for some useful details.
Edible Weeds Can Also Be Bad for You
Before you even start, I don’t want to confuse you, but some edible weeds should never be eaten. So, before we start checking to see if a weed is edible, make sure weeds are not detected under the following conditions, whether they are considered edible 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.
Related: How To Kickstart Your Homesteading Skills
The Edibility Test for Weeds in Your Backyard
Fortunately, if you have any questions about its edibility you may test weeds. Yet, it’s necessary to test just one section of the plant at a time. For instance, check only the leaves, the first flower, or the first stem.
Here are the steps you should take to learn if a plant 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 has to be done after 8 hours with no food. But drinking water is just good. Upon testing your skin once more to see if it has formed a rash or irritation, prepare a small portion of the plant by cooking. Other plants contain toxins that are often lost during cooking. However, if you can’t cook it, start the test with the raw plant.
5. Hold a small portion of the plant against your lip and stay for at least 3 minutes. You are watching for a reaction at this point, for example itching, burning, or some other discomfort.
6. If after three minutes you have no reaction at all, place the sample against your tongue without chewing (or swallowing) it for around 15 minutes. You should be looking for the same reactions as above – itching, burning, or some kind of discomfort.
7. When you are confident that there is no reaction when you keep it on your tongue, the next step is to thoroughly chew it and keep it in your mouth for about 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 time of 8 hours is over and you have not had any reaction or ill effects, eat around 1⁄4 cup of the plant prepared in the same way as above. Wait for another eight hours. Again, if you have a reaction, induce vomiting and drink water.
After carefully following the above steps in testing the weed, if no reaction has occurred, the portion of the plant being tested may be considered edible and healthy to eat as prepared in the steps that you followed. If you plan to consume additional parts of the weed, each should be tested the same way.
If you intend to increase the amounts you’re consuming, do so slowly. Keep in mind that if you ingest significant portions of an unfamiliar plant, you risk unfavorable reactions such as nausea, cramping, and diarrhea, particularly when eaten on an empty stomach. So, even edible weeds are to be eaten in moderation before tolerance is established.