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Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants – Must Know Rules

Home Self Sufficiency Natural Health Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants – Must Know Rules

Knowing edible & medicinal plants is important in self-sufficiency and if you plan to live off the grid. There are must know rules in picking them and I’m going to show you what they are. You don’t have to guess what plant is edible or medicinal, you just have to follow a couple of rules and get familiar with them. As with every homesteading skill, you have to learn it to know it!

Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants – Must Know Rules

Next to mastering fire, a knowledge of picking edible & medicinal plants is considered one of the most difficult, complex and one of the truer signs of being a genuine expert in homesteading. There are other skills like hunting, fishing and trapping that are good marks of a woodsman and skills like navigation, orienteering and terrain association that are standard fair for an outdoor adventurer.

But mankind has always had an interest in the plant world as even now, we are constantly learning about seemingly miraculous properties of plants through science that still feel like some sort of magic to most. And indeed, plants can be magical, but they can also be deadly.

Perhaps that is why so many people have a fear of them. We see plants all around us, every day, but most of us do not know what most of them are. We may know a few from our personal experience but most people could not name 100 different plants that surround them daily and they have grown up with all their lives. It makes sense as there are literally millions of plants, it becomes a daunting task to learn them all.

Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants

Cactus | Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants – Must Know Rules

But like anything in life, we have to break it down into small steps we can handle and before long, we’ll have it mastered and have the confidence that comes with skills acquired through training and familiarization. I try to teach everything in the simplest terms I can as that helps me to remember not only what to teach when in a dynamic scenario, but it also helps me personally to remember when in a stressful situation.

The main thing you have to start out with is setting realistic goals and expectations. There is no way you can learn all the plants in the world. That’s a good start. The next thing is to realize that you don’t need to know them all. I use some simple figures to put it into perspective. These are not scientifically proven, yet, as I don’t think anyone has ever had need to do this type of study, but here are my guidelines for plant edibility versus animal edibility.

90% of all animals are edible for humans.

Only 10% of all plants are edible for humans.

Again, I know these are not the finite facts, but think about it, in the absence of a report on the global edibility of everything, does this not resonate? Anyone with common sense and a bit of world knowledge can come to the same deduction, I can eat almost every type of animal and even insect, bird or fish, or reptile with few exceptions. BUT, I know most plants I can not eat, such as trees or bushes, vines or roots, all for one reason or another, maybe too fibrous and hard, or too noxious or toxic. That is why the few plants we can consume as humans, are so highly cultivated, farmed and used by man kind. Here’s what you have to know about edible & medicinal plants.

Edible Plants

I say all that to say this, you simply don’t need to master all the world’s plants, you only need master a few. Here are some guidelines I help use to help myself determine which plants to dedicate some time to learning, and even mastering.

1) Make sure any plant you decide to learn and master is IDENTIFIABLE. I always look to see if there are any poisonous plants that look like a potential plant I want to learn. For example, cow parsley has a poisonous look-alike called poison parsley that requires a refined eye to differentiate. It’s simple enough if you study but a mistake can be disastrous. I tend to steer away from any plants that have poisonous look-a-likes, unless they simply are so abundantly around me, I could not logically forego mastering the identification of them.

2) That is the next determining factor before I decide to dedicate time to studying a plant as potential for an emergency or survival food source- abundance. Is the plant PLENTIFUL? Meaning, are there lots of it about? It does little good to know the identity and edibility of some plant if it is so rare, you are likely never to encounter it, especially when needed most in desperate times. So make sure there are lots and lots of it about.

3) The other key to helping narrow down your choices of plants to master is DISPERSION. If the plant is only found in one region, or on one mountain or valley, chances are you won’t be in a hurt box in that specific location. And if you were, likely those plants would indicate where you are and you could then find your way out! The key here is how widely distributed are the plants? Are they found all over the world? Are they growing everywhere? These are crucial to the survivor as you want to make sure you have mastered a few plants and that the mastery will pay off in that when you need, you will find, because they are indeed, all over the place.

So Remember: D.I.P. (Distribution, ID, Plentiful)

Now that we have QUALIFIED the screening criteria let us take a D.I.P. into the world of QUANTIFYING our survival plant mastery stratagem. I like simple numbers, so I use 12 here for plants. My recommendation for how many to learn is this:

MASTER 6 to 10 EDIBLE plants based on the criteria above and 2-6 MEDICINAL. Choose these from which ever environment is most important and likely to you for need- Home region, Work place, Travel Areas or anywhere you think you might need this knowledge. Most folks live and work in the same region but some people travel to remote areas for work and need that knowledge in case of emergencies while there.

Some great plants to learn come in many variations, sometimes in over a hundred different forms, but they all basically are from the same family, look alike enough to be easily and readily identified and eaten almost year round in some form or another.

dandelion | Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants – Must Know Rules

A few common, edible plants:

  • Dandelion
  • Cat Tail
  • Acacia
  • Cactus
  • Roses
  • Acorns (Oak trees)
  • Pine needles (Pine trees)
  • Arrow root
  • Bamboo/Reed/Cane
  • Seaweed

These are just some examples of plants that are found all over the world, in many varieties with almost no toxic similarities that are DISPERSED, IDENTIFIABLE & PLENTIFUL.

BUT NOTE: Another significant factor often overlooked by most books and experts is one so simple but so important the lack of discussing and addressing can often lead to uncertainty and lost opportunity to thrive. The season!

Everyone knows there are 4 seasons and that means a lot in the life cycle of plants. It is easy to identify a plant in its full glory of blooming fruit and flower, but what about in the spring, when only a bud, or in the fall, when key leaves may have fallen off, but some nut is perhaps ripe for eating or in the dead of winter when all above ground looks dead to the world above, but below the surface lies a great tuberous root waiting for the forager who knows how to identify the stem when all other signs have long gone.

Medicinal Plants

Next, I recommend learning at least 2-3 MEDICINAL PLANTS but balance your mental garden of 12 plants total, that you master for your start point.

Ideally, these can also be in the EDIBLE category, too, but simply prepared differently or using different parts like roots and leaves versus fruits or nuts from the same plant.

Tea Leaves | Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants – Must Know Rules

One of my biggest guidelines for learning medicinal plants is to study the PREPARATION that is needed to render them as a medicine. Anything that requires boiling means a fire and a pot and water, often not available to a survivor. So, I recommend things you can chew or crush and apply as a “chew poultice” or direct dressing.

The most common issues people have are fever, aches and pains. Anything like aspirin will help and it is the acetylsalicylic acid that makes aspirin work and similar properties like salicin can be found in many plants around you like willow and even oak tree barks.

Another major issue is tummy upset and diarrhea. There are many plants that can helps sooth and stop these such as dandelion and cat tails. Notice, these are also from the suggested food list so that you can now master 12 food plants and some double as your medicine plants.

The real trick to mastering plants is to simply narrow your focus to a dozen you can handle, then really learn them- all seasons, all parts, all ways to prepare and all uses.

The secret to vanquishing fear in survival is by reducing the stress of ignorance by knowing a dozen plants in your environment that you can eat and use for medicine. In this way, you are well prepared and you can spend the rest of your life building on and expanding this knowledge, but you can learn these plants in a day, master them in a weekend. If you practice with those plants around you before you need them, it will ensure your skill sets and assure you the confidence in your abilities to choose wisely under duress, reducing stress, vanquishing fear and living to see another day and return to your loved ones.

So, study your chosen plants from the perspective of all four seasons to enhance and ensure your ability to not only survive, but thrive. Pick 12, give it a day, own it and go hot!

Need more tips? Get more here from Ultimate Survival Tips:

Does this guide make you feel more confident picking out edible & medicinal plants? Let me know what you think below in the comments!

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Self Sufficiency

NYC Adds Nearly 4,000 People Who Never Tested Positive To Coronavirus Death Tolls

New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll Tuesday, bringing coronavirus-related deaths in the city to around 10,000 people.

The city decided to add 3,700 people to its death tolls, who they “presumed” to have died from the virus, according to a report from The New York Times. The additions increased the death toll in the U.S. by 17%, according to the Times report, and included people who were suffering from symptoms of the virus, such as intense coughing and a fever.

The report stated that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided over the weekend to change the way the city is counting deaths.

“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” de Blasio press secretary Freddi Goldstein told the Times.“As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”

The post New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll appeared first on Daily Caller

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Self Sufficiency

How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

The thing about homesteading is you get to create your own ingredient right from scratch! Cheese, yogurt, butter and now sauerkraut, a delightfully sour and crunchy ingredient you can use on your meals — or consume by itself — while on a homestead, or while facing this health crisis!

This homemade sauerkraut is a great meal because it has a long shelf life. You can either make plain sauerkraut or mix it with herbs and spices. In this tutorial let us make Lacto-fermented sauerkraut that preserves all the good probiotics in a jar, good for your guts.

So how to make sauerkraut in a mason jar?

RELATED: How To Make Buttermilk On Your Homestead

Delicious Sauerkraut Recipe Every Homesteader Should Know

Why Make Sauerkraut?


Not only does sauerkraut spoil a long time, but it is also a meal in itself, and it is also easy to make! You don’t need to be an expert cook, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.

So let us get started. Here are the steps in making sauerkraut in a mason jar.


  • 1 head of cabbage or 2 1/2 lbs cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Tools Needed:

  • knife
  • bowl
  • mason jar
  • smaller jar
  • rubber band

Step 1: Wash & Clean the Tools & Ingredients

Wash all the equipment and utensils you need. Wash your hands too.

You don’t want to mix your sauerkraut with bad bacteria, anything that is going to make you sick.

Next, remove the faded leaves from your cabbage. Cut off the roots and the parts that don’t seem fresh.

Step 2: Cut the Cabbage Into Quarters & Slice Into Strips

Cut your cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then, slice it into strips.

Step 3: Place in a Bowl & Sprinkle With Salt

Put the stripped cabbage into a bowl. Sprinkle the cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt.

TIP: Use canning salt or sea salt. Iodized salt will make it taste different and may not ferment the cabbage.

RELATED: Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Step 4: Massage the Cabbage

Massage the cabbage for five minutes or more to get the juice out.

TIP: You’ll know it’s ready when you see a bit of juice at the bottom of the bowl and will look similar to coleslaw.

Step 5: Press Cabbage Into the Mason Jar

Add the cabbage to the mason jar gradually. Press it in hard to allow the juice to come out. Do this every time you add about a handful of cabbage.

IMPORTANT: Food should be covered by the liquid to promote fermentation. Add any excess liquid from the bowl to the jar.

Step 6: Press a Smaller Jar Into the Mason Jar

You want to squeeze every ounce of that juice from the cabbage. To do this place the mason jar in a bowl and get a smaller jar.

Fill it with water or marble to make it heavy. Press it into the bigger mason jar. Allow any juices to rise to the surface.

Step 7: Cover the Jars With Cloth & Tie With Rubber Band

Leave the small jar on. To keep your jars clean from annoying insects and irritating debris, cover your jars with a clean cloth. Then, use a rubber band to tie the cloth and the jars together, putting them in place.

Step 8: Set Aside & Check Daily

Set it aside in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight. Check the water level daily. It should always be above the cabbage.

Step 9: Taste Your Sauerkraut & Keep at Cool Temperatures

Homemade Sauerkraut Cumin Juniper | How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

After about five days, you can taste your sauerkraut. If the taste is to your liking, tightly cover it with the lid and store in the fridge or cellar.

NOTE: If after five days it’s still not your desired taste, leave it for a few more days. This will allow the fermentation process to continue.

You can now enjoy your sauerkraut in a mason jar. Enjoy its goodness! You can use it as a side dish or mix it with your favorite sandwich.

Things to Remember in Making Sauerkraut

  • Store away from direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Colder weather will make the process longer. Spring is the best time to make them since the warmth helps activate the fermentation.
  • Always make sure that the cabbage is below the water level during the entire fermentation process.
  • If the water level decreases during the fermentation process, you can make a brine and add it.

Let us watch this video from Kristina Seleshanko on how to make delicious Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar!

So there you have it! Making Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar is as easy as slicing the cabbage into strips. Remember that as long it remains unopened, your sauerkraut can last for months. Best of all, you can partner this sauerkraut in many recipes.

What do you think of this homemade recipe? Share your best sauerkraut recipe in the comments section below!

Fellow homesteaders, do you want to help others learn from your journey by becoming one of our original contributors? Write for us!


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Self Sufficiency


Having plants in the house will bring peace to people. Having a little garden with vegetables is even better! You can grow these vegetables in your backyard garden easily as well!

RELATED: Microgreens Growing Guide

In this article:

  1. Tomato
  2. Eggplant
  3. Beet
  4. Spinach
  5. Pea
  6. Carrot
  7. Radish
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Asparagus

Growing veggies in your garden will give you an opportunity to understand what you eat and value it more. Early spring is when most vegetables are being planted. Keep reading to learn about 9 spring vegetables that anyone can grow in their garden!


Tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the States! There are different varieties to choose from. Tomatoes need to be planted in early spring because they won’t survive a frost.

Because tomatoes are consumed daily, try adding them to your garden! They’re not difficult to grow either.


Eggplants are known to have low-calorie, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Plus, they are delicious! So why not plant them in your garden?

Eggplants shouldn’t be planted too early because they won’t be able to survive a frost. So you could consult an expert in your area before you plant your eggplants.


Beets are known to be a superfood for its various health benefits. They’re easier to grow in the garden, usually around late March or early April.

If the weather is always cool, beets will keep getting bigger and bigger. Once the weather starts to warm up, you’ll need to harvest them, or they’ll go to waste.


Spinach is a delicious early spring veggie, and it’s also very beneficial for health. And it’s not difficult to grow spinach in your garden!

Spinach needs cold weather to grow. Getting spinach to grow is easy, but keeping it growing will require some extra care.


Peas are usually planted in late April. Peas will die in freezing temperatures, but they also won’t survive the heat either. So make sure you plant your peas in early spring.

Peas are widely used in many different ways, and there are different types of peas. The soil you’ll be planting your peas should be suitable for them, so make sure you ask while buying seeds.


There are different types of carrots, but regardless of their size and color, it’s a fact that carrots are both delicious and rich in vitamins.

They’re root vegetables, so with proper sun and watering, they can be picked up as baby carrots as well.


A radish is an excellent option for beginners because it doesn’t require too much care. Radish is easy to harvest.

Radish grows fast, so it’s better to keep an eye on it after a few weeks. Radish usually is grown pest-free, but there’s always the chance of unwanted guests, so watch out for worms. Radish can be eaten raw or can be added to garnish recipes.


Cauliflower isn’t the easiest vegetable to grow at home, but it is very popular.

Cauliflower grows better in colder weather, so before you plant it, consider the climate of your garden. Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is known to be very beneficial for health.


Freshly picked, tender asparagus is very delicious!

Asparagus plants get more productive with each harvest, and mature asparagus harvest can last for months! Make sure you plant them at the correct time, or else they might go to waste.

All the vegetables listed above are great for your healthy diet, and it’s fun to watch them grow. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your own veggies and eat healthy this spring!

So tell us which veggies will you be growing this spring? Tell us in the comments section!




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