Saturday, July 17, 2010

Marsh Mallows

Have you ever wondered where those yummy little confections we know as marshmallows come from?  Well today they come from manufacturers and are usually made with things like sugar or corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, and water.

But according to Wikipedia, the use of marsh mallow plants (which some claim have medicinal properties) to make candy dates back to ancient Egypt!  

The use of marshmallow to make a candy dates back to ancient Egypt, where the recipe called for extracting sap from the plant and mixing it with nuts and honey. (Another pre-modern recipe uses the pith of the marshmallow plant, rather than the sap. The stem was peeled back to reveal the soft and spongy pith, which was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produce a soft, chewy confection.)[2] Candymakers in early 19th century France made the innovation of whipping up the marshmallow sap and sweetening it, to make a confection similar to modern marshmallow. The confection was made locally, however, by the owners of small candy stores. They would extract the sap from the mallow plant's root, and whip it themselves. The candy was very popular but its manufacture was labor-intensive. In the late 19th century, French manufacturers devised a way to get around this by using egg whites or gelatin, combined with modified corn starch, to create the chewy base. This avoided the laborious extraction process, but it did require industrial methods to combine the gelatin and corn starch in the right way.

We have lots of marsh mallow plants near the waters edge on our property.  They love having their roots in very wet ground!  And each morning, their delicate pink and white blossoms open up to greet the day, but when evening comes, they curl up and say goodnight until the next day...

How fitting that something so pretty could be turned into something so yummy, and apparently even good for you too!  Maybe I'll have to find an old marshmallow recipe and try and make some the old fashioned way! 


  1. Kat, that is very interesting. I did not know that there was a plant and you even have some. Now go make some marshmallows and them make some smores!

  2. Wow~ how interesting! I'd love to try one from the old fashioned recipe!

  3. these are just beautiful - such lovely photos - I LOVE these! (and I love your blog!)


  4. How interesting to learn the history, I had no idea about the plants, that is so cool that you have them growing right there! And aren't they just beautiful too! ~Lili

  5. Kat I had no idea! How fascinating and they are truly beautiful flowers!!

    Art by Karena

  6. Kat, I did know about the Marsh Mallow plant but I didn't know they were so striking! Aren't they quite lovely!
    Fun to find out!

  7. I had never made the connection! Maybe the real thing has flavour (since the manufactured ones don't).

  8. I'd always known that there was a plant......way back before the big puffy marshmallows were invented, but I didn't know what it was or looked like. Let us know how your experiment goes, please.

  9. Give me my marshmallows in a bag, please ... and make them into Rice Krispie Treats while you're at it. :)

    There are some lovely varieties of mallow that do great in regular gardens. Malva 'Zebrina' is a particularly nice one.


  10. Well Kat- I never knew.
    I remember seeing Martha Stewart make marshmallows once on her TV show- years ago.

    Thanks for educating us-

    By the way-I bought the lens you recommended.

    It is all so much fun.

    White Spray Paint

  11. Nothing better than home-made or artisan made marshmallows, a bar of hershey chocolate, graham crackers and a fire for toasting...

    You're not helping my diet.

    Very interesting post, had no idea...

  12. I have heard that. Someday I plan to make my own homemade marshmallows, minus the marsh mallow sap, however. :-(. I understand that homemade marshmallows are amazing.

  13. My goodness, I surely did not know that. It is a beautiful plant...I will have to start looking for it around here.

  14. Beautiful images! What a sweet & delicate plant.

    Eddie & Jaithan

  15. I did not know this. I do love fudge made with marshmallow creme and now want some! Thanks for your lesson. olive

  16. What lovely graceful and delicate flowers! I had no idea about it's history. I have made
    home-made marshmallows but it didn't involve this plant. I can't wait to hear if you try an old fashioned recipe. Very interesting. Thanks for the history lesson.

  17. so pretty! We made sticky ooey gooey smores last week at our beach fire, pretty darn good and the perfect treat for summer nights. Have a great week!

  18. Well that is really interesting...I had no idea.

  19. How fascinating. Thank you for sharing this.


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