How to Remove Rose Hip Hairs

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Tips on how to extract rose hip hairs, otherwise known as rose hip itching powder. Useful information for avoiding getting itchy hairs in your dried rose-hips and rosehip preserves.

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Over the weekend, I gathered more rose hips so that I could dry them for tea. In wilder hedgerows I mainly find wild roses that produce small hips that are easiest dried whole. However, in town and on beaches, you tend to find the much larger rosa rugosa hips. These hips from the beach rose give you just as delicious rose hip flavor, but they need a bit more work to prepare them. Inside the center of all rose hips, but especially these larger ones you’ll find rose hip hairs that are very itchy.

Rose hips have a delicate fruity taste that I find delicious on a cold day. But when making it yourself, you really have to beware of the tiny hairs that line the inside of the fruit and often cover the seeds. These hairs are literally itching powder and let me tell you that they’re uncomfortable enough when they come into contact with your skin, let alone ingesting them. With small dog rose hips, you can top and tail the hips and dry them whole. With larger rose hips, you need to cut and deseed them before you dry them. It’s impossible to get everything out of them though, including rose hip hairs. No worries, though; there’s an easy way to remove them after the rose hips are dried.

Larger rose hips, like these rosa rugosa hips, have more itchy hairs inside

How to Remove Rose Hip Hairs

The best way I’ve found to remove rose hip hairs from large rose hips is simple. First, slice the rose hips in half and carefully spoon out the seeds and hairs inside. Dry the rose hips completely after this and I have more information on how to do this in how to dry rose hips for tea.

Cut and clean the seeds and rose hip seeds out of the rose hips

After the hips are fully dried, pulse them in a blender until they’re a coarse texture. Next, pour the blended rose hips into a sieve and shake the hairs out over a baking tray or a large sheet of paper. You will lose the tinier pieces of dried rose hips in sieving them but the majority of the rose hips will be clean and inside the sieve. Once you stop seeing fine hairs coming out, store the remaining dried rose hips and discard the rose hip itching powder. It’s not a pleasant thing at all but can be composted.

Fully dried rose hips

Uses for Itching Powder

Today, there’s only one use for itching powder – as a practical joke. It used to be a common substance that you could buy in joke shops but no longer. Itching powder isn’t a pleasant joke to play on anyone and can even result in a trip to the hospital. The way that rose hip hairs induce an itching sensation is mechanical, rather than allergic reaction. It works in a similar way to the abrasion that coarse wool can cause on your skin. This is in contrast to old-fashioned itching powder, made from a different plant.

Fine rose-hip hairs can be very itchy

Wild Foraged Recipes

Rose hip hairs mixed with tiny pieces of dried rose hip fruit. Avoid losing this much dried rose hip by pulsing coarsely.

Itching Powder Plant

In the 19th century, people made itching powder from a plant called the velvet bean Mucuna pruriens. Instead of a prank, it was instead used to stimulate the skin. The hairs, or spinicles, from velvet bean seed pods contain a protein called Mucunain that causes an itchy skin reaction.

It was thought that the itchy hairs could cure lack of sensation and perhaps paralysis. Hairs from the plant’s seed pods would be mixed into an ointment and applied to the skin. Also known as cowich and cowhage, this tropical plant was used up to the 1950s as an oral vermifuge. Basically, a dewormer or anti-parasitic drug. It is not used by professional medical physicians any longer.

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16 Comments

  1. Debbie Keds says:

    My sister used to make rose hip itching powder a lot. And it would end of up ground into the insoles of my sneakers many times. lol. I would know it when my toes started to twitch and the tops of my feet started to itch. lol.

  2. Hi Pat :) I have made syrup before and it is tasty. But I found that we didn't actually use it much and I ended up dumping what I had left into a wine recipe. Do you make it yourself? Maybe you could give me some pointers on good recipes using rose-hip syrup?

  3. I had to scratch my hand a bit when I was reading 'itching powder'. LOL
    I love rosehips…not totally crazy about them, but I do enjoy things fruity, natural and good-for-you!

  4. I shall be picking my rosehips next month up in the mountains. I've made rosehip wine adding oranges and it turned out quite delicious.

  5. Hi Dani :) Rose-hip hairs ARE itching powder – they're the main constituent anyway. But the skins and flesh of the fruit are packed full of all kinds of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and bioflavonoids…they're also good for women's health.

  6. Thanks for visiting my blog Miss Lovely Tanya Greens. Your blog looks interesting so I have jumped aboard. Love the idea of the wild flower meadow/s.

  7. Very interesting, Tanya. Do you only use rose hips for tea? I have see Vitamin C tablets with Rose Hips. Wonder what the benefits of rose hips are?

    I wonder if the hairs are used to make itching powder?

  8. Hi Mo – I was going to say something about that in the post but thought it might give ideas any kids googling rose-hip itching powder! Lol! Did you ever have any personal experiences with rose-hips being thrown down your top? I'll bet it was awful!

  9. Hi Ben – No I've never tried it but my gut feeling is that rose-hips must contain a lot of tannin maybe making the wine a bit sharp? A friend of mine just made a batch of gorse wine – have you ever had a go at it yourself? I haven't sampled it yet but she says that it's also quite bland unfortunately.

  10. I worried about the hairs when I first made Rosehip Syrup. As kids we all knew the itchy quality of Rosehips, and many were put down peoples necks ;)

  11. Have you ever tried making Rosehip wine? If so, was it any good? I have done it twice, and both times it has been indifferent – nothing actively wrong with it (except for being too dry, which is remediable with a sugar solution), but overall it was bland.