Tips on how to extract rose hip hairs, otherwise known as rose hip itching powder. Useful information for avoiding itchy hairs in 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 times 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.
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.
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.
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.
Wild Foraged Recipes
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.