LEARN TO TEST WILD PLANTS FOR EDIBILITY
In the wilderness, knowing which plants are edible and which are not could save your life someday. Here is a formula for testing wild plants for edibility.
Never eat large quantities of an unknown food without first testing it. When in doubt, chew a berry or small portion of a plant to taste possible bitterness or astringency. Spit it out.
When cooking facilities are available, cook the plant 5-15 minutes. Take a teaspoonful of the plant and hold it in your mouth five minutes. If no burning sensation is noted, then swallow it.
Wait 8 hours. If there are no ill effects such as nausea, cramps or diarrhea, eat more, and wait another 8 hours. If no ill effects are noted, the plant should be edible.
Cook all plant foods when in doubt of their edibility. Cooking, however, does not always destroy toxicity.
When cooking facilities are not available, it is generally considered safe to try foods that you observe being eaten by birds and mammals. However, this does not always hold true, as birds will eat baneberries, etc.
Never eat a wild mushroom without positive identification. Cooking does not dissipate the poisonous properties of mushrooms.
Be Extremely Careful!
Avoid eating an unknown plant with a milky juice. There are some edible plants, however, with milky juice, such as dandelion, wild lettuce, milkweed, figs, papaya, etc.
Most blue and black berries are edible, red berries are sometimes edible, and white berries are never edible.
EDIBILITY RULE - MEMORY TOOL
If it's blue - it's good for you.
If it's red - use your head.
If it's white - do not bite.
Another forager has presented the following:
For your edibility test...
Don't bother going through the process unless there is plenty of that plant in the area. (If you take all that time and effort [over 24 hours] you may as well have a lot to eat)
Only test one part of one plant at a time (separate the plant into its different parts leaves, stems, roots, etc)
Do not eat for 8 hours before the test.
Instead of step #2 rub some of it on the crease of your elbow; wait 20 minutes for a reaction.
If no reaction, prepare the plant part as you plan to eat it. Touch a part of it to your lip. If no burning, itching or reaction in 3 minutes, place part on your tongue and hold there for 15 minutes.
If no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth without swallowing for 15 minutes.
If no burning, itching, numbness, etc occurs, swallow it.
Then wait 8 hours. Do not eat anything else during the entire test except this part of this plant prepared this way. If anything does not feel right in that time, induce vomiting and drink lots of pure water.
If you are still ok after the 8 hours, eat about 1/4 cup and wait another 8 hours.
If you are still ok, you can eat THAT PART of the plant in the manner you prepared it.
For #6: if you are in a survival situation do NOT eat ANY mushrooms. They have almost no nutritional value and if you screw up (experts do and they are not injured/tired/ lost/confused/dehydrated) you will die. Trust me on this....
and from another....
There is an abundance of standard issue weeds that are complete safe, in over abundance, and could be found within a short walking distance almost anywhere.
I never use anything that I'm not completely sure of.. and why bother when you can survive on Smilax. It is so plentiful all over the world and it is on the Pest List.
There are also many others that are available in most areas. Cattails are another biggy. Dandelions, Lambs Quarters etc. All are pests that people are trying to get rid of. Thank God they are not successful. Besides needing them for foraging, they are tasty little critters.
One thing that is important is to start including your forage foods in your regular diet. That way you will be used to them, will know where all they are found and what they look like at their different seasons. You will also begin to amass a lot of different ways to use them. Then if the going gets tough for whatever reason, you will know you have nature's store of safe edibles available. Call it a security blanket issue. I have always felt that empty bellies befuddle the brain. Full ones afford you the ability to plan for the other areas in your life. It is hard to think about safety, or where to go next, what to do next, if you are hungry. If you find yourself in the wild, you will be able to find nourishment from the weeds around you, and not be hungry while you plan to survive.
and yet another....
I learned this method from a Navy Seal that taught us basic survival classes:
"There is a acronym which we will use to determine whether or not a plant or tuber is edible". This procedure is called T.R.I.M.
T- if the plant contains thorns, it is considered non-edible, unless you know the plant personally such as blackberries, dewberries, strawberries, etc.
R- if the plant leaves or stems are red, their acid contents are too high and they are considered poisonous.
I- if the sap or juice from the plant is icky, this plant is best left alone.
M- if the plant contains a musky or repugnant odor do not consume this plant.