Universal Edibility Test
The universal edibility test will help you determine the edibility of unknown plants for use as a food source. The upside is that it works. The downside is that it is very time consuming, and you may have some adverse reactions to the plants that fail the test. A simple field guide would eliminate the need for testing.
Before performing a test, make sure there are several
plants of the same species in the area. That way, if the plant, or even just parts of it, passes the test you will have a supply of safe food.
Follow the steps below to perform the universal edibility test.
Note: Because you have to go for eight hours without eating , do the separate and contact portions of this test before retiring for the night. After examining your skin test in the morning you will know whether or not to continue with the ‘lip test’.
Universal Edibility Test
Separate: Separate the questionable plant into its five basic parts: leaves, roots, buds, stems and flowers. (Note, some parts of a plant may be edible while other parts of the same plant may not.)
Contact: Contact will test you for negative reaction to the plant part such as a burning sensation, redness, rash, etc. If this happens, it would be unwise to try ingesting that particular plant part. To perform the contact portion of the universal edibility test, crush one part of the plant (i.e. leaves) and rub it on the inside of your wrist or elbow for 15 minutes. (You can drink but don’t eat during this test.) Wait eight hours.
Lip Test: If there is no skin reaction after eight hours, take the plant part and hold it to your lips for three minutes. If you experience any burning or tingling, remove the plant piece and start over with a different part of the same plant.
Taste: Taste is the next part of the universal edibility test. Hold the plant part you have been testing thus far on your tongue for fifteen minutes. If there is any burning or tingling, spit it out and rinse your mouth with water. If not, proceed.
Chew: Chew it thoroughly and hold it in your mouth for Another 15 minutes without swallowing. If any adverse sensations occur, spit it out and rinse with water.
Swallow: Swallow if there are no burning, tingling, or numbing reactions. Now, you will need to wait another eight hours only drinking, not eating anything else. If you Experience nausea, induce vomiting and drink lots of water. If you have no adverse reactions, it’s time to eat.
Eat: Eat a little more. (Keyword being little). Use about ¼ cup of the exact same plant part you have successfully used to this point, and prepare it the exact same way (raw or cooked). Eat and wait another eight hours. If there are no adverse reactions, this particular part of the plant has passed the universal edibility test.
Cooking: Boiling or baking some toxic plants may make them edible but once cooked, they still need to be tested using this same method.
Always a time-consuming process, the universal edibility test should be done on all parts of all questionable plants before ingesting, but better off hungry than poisoned.