what are marshmallows actually made of

Even if your grownup tastebuds eschew the gooey texture and sweetness of marshmallows, theres a pretty good chance you once loved them. In Western culture, they tie closely to nostalgic childhood memories, from roasting marshmallows over open campfires to gobbling them in crispy, chewy chunks of Rice Krispie treats. Elevating them to fancy desserts or pastel-plated mounds may be futile –– after all, its likely the throwback appeal that really grabs the heartstrings, not the actual taste of those elongated mystery treats.

The continuing fascination with marshmallows as a food product begs the question: What are marshmallows actually made of? Once upon a time, what we now call marshmallows came from Mather Nature, believe it or not, and were considered food for royals, elites, or deities. Thousands of years later, theyre hardly recognizable in form or flavor compared to the original ones, and theyre made from only a handful of now-common ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and air — all of which are whipped into a frenzy.

Its possible to make them in a home kitchen, but theres an intricacy to the method, and it can require the addition of cornstarch and potentially other ingredients such as vanilla, water, or confectioners sugar, per preference and recipe. It can also take hours to make when including the required resting time. In other words, those bags of store-bought marshmallows are likely to continue reigning in hot chocolate toppings and countless recipes for viscous deliciousness.

A typical marshmallow contains sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin, plus some air. That’s it. “A marshmallow is basically a foam that’s stabilized by gelatin,” says Richard Hartel, a food engineer at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In marshmallows, the foam is made up of air suspended in a liquid sugar mixture.
what are marshmallows actually made of

How today’s marshmallow ingredients differ from original versions

In defense of todays marshmallows, which occasionally even land on lists touting Americas Favorite Foods, they arent just an indulgent sweet treat. In miniature form, slightly melted marshmallows are often spread across dishes such as sweet potatoes, particularly at holiday meals. Theres even a thing called savory smores made with blue cheese and prosciutto or pepperonis. But the essential ingredient, the marshmallow, seldom diverges from its stretchy, sweet form.

The original marshmallow had only one of the ingredients used today: the sugar. Its core came from an actual root plant called mallow (Althaea officinalis), which grows wildly in marshy terrains –– thus the name marsh mallow. Early Egyptian marshmallow desserts used extracted sap from the plant combined with honey and chopped nuts. Europeans, French candy makers in particular, later started whipping the sap by hand and forming candies using molds.

Eventually, gelatin took the place of the natural mallow plant, serving as an air stabilizer and providing the necessary texture. Finally, in 1948, an American manufacturer invented a process called extrusion, funneling the marshmallow goo through tubes, and then cutting the resulting foam to form the shape we recognize today.

This Is How Marshmallows Are Really Made


What are real marshmallows made of?

Marshmallows are made of sugar, corn syrup (sugar), water and gelatin. They can have other things added for flavor and color, but that’s it. The magic is how the ingredients are combined. Marshmallows are a scaffolding of sugar and gelatin that stays rigid enough to become a network of stable air bubbles.

Are marshmallows still made from pork?

Although most gelatin is obtained from pigs bones, there is no meat present in sweet marshmallows. Most marshmallows contain gelatin which is a substance obtained from collagen found in the bones of various animals, including cattle, pigs and fish.

How healthy are marshmallows?

Marshmallows are a sweet treat that many of us enjoy with hot chocolate, on top of sweet potatoes, or even shaped into peeps at Easter time. But these fluffy white puffs aren’t very nutritious. Marshmallow ingredients usually include just sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin.

What kind of gelatin is in marshmallows?

Most commercially available marshmallows contain gelatin, which is a jelly-like substance derived from the collagen of the bones of many animals including fish, cattle and pigs. While much gelatin is derived from the bones of pigs, no meat is present in the sweet marshmallow product.

What are marshmallows made of?

It’s all because of what marshmallows are made of. What Are Marshmallows? Marshmallows are made of sugar and corn syrup, and, whether they’re made at a candy factory or you make them at home, they also contain gelatin. But the key ingredient is whipped air.

Is marshmallow gluten free?

Most marshmallow are gluten-free, although, some may contain trace amounts of gluten. So, people with gluten intolerance must take the ones labeled as gluten-free.

Are marshmallows made by hand?

Surprisingly, by this time, the hard part’s done. Marshmallows have been made for a long time, and before extrusion was added to the process in the 1950s, marshmallow shaping was done by hand. According to The New York Times, it was a labor- and time-intensive process.

Where does marshmallow come from?

The word “marshmallow” comes from the mallow plant species ( Althaea officinalis ), a herb native to parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia which grows in marshes and other damp areas. The plant’s stem and leaves are fleshy, and its white flower has five petals.

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