The universal edibility test will help you to determine whether or not a plant in the wilderness is a safe food source or not. The method itself works but it is by no means a quick process. It is time consuming and may result in some adverse reactions to the plants that fail the test.
I would recommend testing local plants BEFORE you actually need to use them in a survival situation as the last thing you need when requiring food is to have to wait around.
The steps below will show you how to perform the universal edibility test for yourself. Do not skip a step as it is all very important for your own safety.
You also need to remember to test ALL parts of the plant for edibility, as some plants have both edible AND inedible parts. Do not assume that a part that proved edible when cooked is also edible when raw. Test the part raw to ensure edibility before eating raw. The same part of plant may produce varying reactions in different individuals.
- Never test more than one part of the plant at any one time. Test each part separately.
- Start off by separating the different parts of the plant (leaves, stems, roots, buds, and flowers.)
- Smell the food for any strong or acid odors. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible.
- Do not eat anything for 8 hours before starting the test.
- During the 8 hours period of not eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction.
- During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing.
- Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it.
- Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching.
- If after 3 minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding it there for 15 minutes.
- If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. Do not swallow.
- If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging, or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes. swallow the food.
- Wait 8 hours. If any ill effects occur during this period. induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.
- If no ill effects occur, eat 0.25 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another 8 hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating.