Homemade Marshmallow - © mybakingaddiction.com

Marshmallows: The Most Nearly-Not-There Food!

An odd headline, I know. But it’s true. As you’ll discover when we run down the Nutrition Facts listing for the marshmallow, there’s almost nothing in them. An odd description, I know. On the up side, if you really love them, you can make your own at home!

Marshmallow Cocoa - ©2023 - browneyedbaker.comA Classic Combo: Big, squishy, homemade marshmallows in a cup of hot chocolate!

The historical marshmallow…

The US National Confectioners Association (NCA) maintains a detailed, intriguing page on the history of the marshmallow. I was gob-smacked to discover that this unique candy goes all the way back 2,000 years or so, when it was first enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians!

And the origin of its name is equally surprising: “Marshmallow was made from the mallow plant (Athaea officinalis) that grows wild in [Mediterranean] marshes. The term ‘marshmallow’ was derived both from the native home of the plant and the plant name. Mallow is native to Asia and Europe and has been naturalized in America. The Egyptians squeezed sap from the mallow plant and mixed it with nuts and honey. However, no one knows what the candy looked like in those times.”

The contemporary marshmallow…

The modern marshmallow was developed in 1948, when In 1948, Alex Doumak revolutionized the manufacturing process. He patented an extrusion process that turns out the drum-shaped marshmallows we’re familiar with today. Before that. they were either set in cornstarch candy molds, or cut from large slabs into squares.

As for the recipe, the main ingredient has changed from mallow sap to common gelatin. The gelatin is first ‘bloomed’ (soaked in cold water), then beaten with corn syrup, starch, sugar and water until it forms a stiff, fluffy, white foam. The foam is passed through the aforementioned extruder, and the finished marshmallows are allowed to cool and set.

You can make your own!

If you really love marshmallows, you can make your own fairly easily. That allows you to use whatever colourings or flavourings you wish to personalize the treat. You can also adjust the amount of gelatin in the basic recipe to achieve what you consider the perfect firmness.

The recipe at MyBakingAddiction.com is a great place to start!

Involve the whole family! Watching the foam develop in the mixer is a great spectacle in the eyes of little kids. I actually find it kind of magical, too!

What’s in it for you?

The Nutrition Facts statement for the standard-sized marshmallow produced by the above-mentioned recipe reveals the following:

Serving: 1 marshmallow

  • Calories: 80 Cal
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.001 g
  • Sodium: 7 mg
  • Potassium: 1 mg
  • Fiber: 0.01 g
  • Sugar: 19 g
  • Calcium: 2 m g
  • Iron: 0.02 mg

My take

I was intrigued at the following stats, garnered from the NCA website…

  • Americans are, by far, the world’s largest consumers of marshmallows.
  • They buy more than 90 million pounds of marshmallows annually.
  • The majority are sold in the fall (October, November and December).
  • Each summer, more than 50 percent of all marshmallows sold are eventually toasted over a fire.

… Particularly that ’90 million pounds’ / 41 million kg total annual sales figure. Considering how little they weigh, that’s one heck of a pile of marshmallows!

~ Maggie J.

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