Why are marshmallows called marshmallows

Mouse Bacon - Marshmallow

Marshmallow ( UK: / m ɑːr ʃ mæ l oʊ /, US: / mɑːr ʃ m ʊ l oʊ, - m æ l - /) is a type of confectionery that is typically made from sugar, water, and gelatin whipped to a firm but soft consistency. It is used as a filling in baking or is usually molded into shapes and coated with corn starch. The sugar confectionery is inspired by a historical medical confectionery Althaea officinalis , the marsh mallow plant.


The word "marshmallow" comes from the mallow plant species ( Althaea officinalis ), an herb native to parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia that grows in swamps and other humid areas. The stem and leaves of the plant are fleshy, and its white flower has five petals. It is not known exactly when marshmallows were invented, but their history dates back to 2000 BC. Chr. Back . The ancient Egyptians are believed to have been the first to make and use the root of the plant to relieve coughs and sore throats, and to heal wounds. The first marshmallows were made by boiling pieces of root pulp with honey until thick. After thickening, the mixture was sieved, cooled and then used as intended.

Whether for candy or medicine, marshmallow making was limited to a small scale. By the early to mid-19th century, the marshmallow found its way to France, where pastry chefs enhanced the plant's traditional medicinal value with pampering ingredients used by the Egyptians. Small candy store owners whipped the juice from the mallow root into a fluffy candy mold. This sweet, called Pâte de Guimauve, was a spongy, soft dessert made from whipped marshmallow roots with sugar, water, and egg white. It was sold in bar form as a lozenge. It took a day or two to dry and prepare the marshmallow before the final product could be made. In the late 1800s, confectionery makers began looking for a new process and discovered the starch mogul system, which involved pressing a mold down firmly in trays of modified cornstarch to create voids within the starch. The cavities were then filled with the whipped marshmallow juice mixture and allowed to cool or harden. At the same time, confectionery makers began to replace mallow root with gelatin, creating a stable form of marshmallow.

In the early 1900s, thanks to the starch mogul system, marshmallows were introduced to the United States and became available for mass consumption. They were canned as penny candy and were soon used in a variety of food recipes such as banana fluff, lime mauve sponge, and tutti frutti. In 1956, Alex Doumak patented the extrusion process, in which marshmallow ingredients were passed through tubes. The tubes formed a long rope of marshmallow mixture and were then laid out to cool. The ingredients are then cut into equal pieces and packaged.

Modern marshmallow production is highly automated and has been around since the early 1950s when the extrusion process was first developed. Numerous improvements and further developments enable the production of thousands of pounds of marshmallow per day. Nowadays, marshmallow usually consists of four ingredients: sugar, water, air, and a whipping agent (usually a protein). The type of sugar and whipping agent varies depending on the desired properties. Each ingredient plays a specific role in the end product.

Development of modern marshmallows

Confectioners in the Early 19th Century France pioneered the innovation of whipping and sweetening marshmallow juice to create a confectionery similar to modern day marshmallow. The confectionery was made on site by the owners of small candy stores. You would extract the sap from the root of the mallow plant and whip it yourself. The candy was very popular, but it was labor-intensive to make. In the late 19th century, French manufacturers thought of using egg whites or gelatin in combination with modified corn starch to create the chewy base. This avoided the labor-intensive extraction process, but required industrial methods to properly combine gelatin and corn starch.

Another milestone in the production of marshmallows was the development of the extrusion process by the Greek-American confectioner Alex Doumak of Doumak Inc. in the late 1940s. In this process, patented by Doumak in 1956, the marshmallow mixture is pumped through extrusion heads, with numerous openings aligned side by side, which form continuous "ropes" of marshmallow. This invention enabled the fully automatic production of marshmallows and gave us the well-known cylindrical shape of today's marshmallows. To make marshmallows in bulk, industrial pastry chefs mix water, sugar, and corn syrup in massive kettles, which are then heated to a precise temperature and cooked for a precise time. This mixture is then pumped to another kettle to cool. Once the mixture has cooled sufficiently not to denature the gelatin, the rehydrated gelatin is added and mixed in. To give the marshmallow its fluffiness, it is pumped through a blender while air is pumped into it. At this point, the mixture needs to be cooled even further to keep it in shape as it extrudes. It is pumped through a heat exchanger before being pumped through the extrusion heads onto a wide conveyor belt. The conveyor belt is coated with corn starch and more corn starch is dusted on top of the marshmallow extrusion as it goes down the conveyor. At the end of this conveyor table is a large knife the width of the conveyor that will cut the extrusion into the desired marshmallow size. The pieces are then tossed in cornstarch in a big drum so the marshmallow can form its familiar skin and pieces that are not completely cut can break apart.

Like most sweets, marshmallows are sweetened with sucrose. They are made by aerating mixtures of sucrose and proteins to a final density of about 0.5 g / ml. The molecular structure of marshmallows is simply a sugar solution mixed with stabilizing structuring agents like gelatin, xanthan gum, or egg white. The above structural components prevent the air from escaping from the marshmallows and collapsing during ventilation.


Marshmallows are made up of four ingredients: sugar, water, air, and a whipping agent / aerator (usually a protein). The type of sugar and whipping agent varies depending on the desired properties. Each marshmallow brand has its own formula for making the “perfect” marshmallow. Regardless of how they're made, each ingredient plays a specific role in the end product.

The marshmallow is a foam that consists of an aqueous continuous phase and a gaseous dispersed phase (in other words, a liquid with gas bubbles distributed throughout). Not only is this a foam, but it also makes marshmallows a "ventilated" confection because it is 50% air. The goal of an aerated confection like a marshmallow is to incorporate gas into a sugar mixture and stabilize the aerated product before the gas can escape. When the gas is introduced into the system, tiny air bubbles are created. This contributes to the unique textural properties and mouthfeel of this product.


In marshmallows, proteins are the main surfactants responsible for the formation and stabilization of the dispersed air. Due to their structure, surface-active molecules collect on the surface of part of the (water-based) liquid. Part of each protein molecule is hydrophilic with a polar charge, and another part is hydrophobic and non-polar. The non-polar section has little or no affinity for water, so this section is oriented as far away from the water as possible. However, the polar section is attracted to water and has little or no affinity for air. This is why the molecule orientates itself with the polar section in the water, with the non-polar section in the air. Two primary proteins that are commonly used as aerators in marshmallows are egg whites (egg whites) and gelatin.

Egg white

Egg white is a mixture of proteins found in egg white that is used for its ability to form foams. In a commercialized setting, dried egg whites are used as opposed to fresh egg whites. In addition to convenience, the benefits of using dried egg whites include increasing food safety and reducing the water content in the marshmallow. Fresh protein has a higher one Salmonella risk and consists of about 90 percent water. This is undesirable for the durability and strength of the product. Fresh egg whites are typically used for artisanal marshmallows made by a candy maker. Egg white is rarely used alone when incorporated into modern marshmallows and is used in conjunction with gelatin instead.


Gelatin is the aerator most commonly used in making marshmallows. It consists of collagen, a structural protein obtained from animal skin, connective tissue and bones. It can not only stabilize foams such as protein, but also forms a thermally reversible gel in combination with water. This means that gelatin can melt and then reset due to its temperature sensitivity. The melting point of gelatin gel is 35 ° C (95 ° F), which is just below normal body temperature (36 ° C). This is what contributes to the "melt in the mouth" feeling when a marshmallow is consumed - it actually starts to melt when it touches the tongue.

During manufacture, the temperature must be just above the melting point of the gelatin so that it cools down quickly after its formation and the gelatin solidifies and maintains the desired shape. If the marshmallow rope mixture exiting the extruder during processing is too warm, the marshmallow will begin to flow before the gelatin hardens. Instead of a round marshmallow, it takes on a more oval shape. Excessive heat can also degrade or degrade the gelatin itself. Therefore, if marshmallows are made at home or by artisan confectionery makers, the gelatin is added after the syrup is heated and cooled.

In commercial operations, the gelatin is simply boiled with the sugar syrup instead of being added later after the syrup has cooled. In this case, the kinetics play an important role, taking both time and temperature into account. If the gelatin was added at the beginning of a batch which was then boiled to 112-116 ° C in 20 to 30 minutes, a significant amount of gelatin would break down. The marshmallow would have reduced the suspension due to this loss of gelatin. Since the time that the syrup spends in modern stoves at elevated temperatures is so short, the gelatin is hardly or not at all degraded.

In terms of texture and mouthfeel, gelatin makes marshmallows tough by creating an intricate 3-D network of polymer chains. As soon as gelatin is dissolved in warm water (referred to as the "flowering phase"), it forms a dispersion which leads to the crosslinking of its helical chains. The bonds in the gelatin protein network trap air in the marshmallow mixture and immobilize the water molecules in the network. The result is the well-known spongy structure of marshmallows. For this reason, omitting gelatin from a marshmallow recipe results in marshmallow cream as there is no gelatin network to trap the water and air bubbles.


A traditional marshmallow can contain around 60% corn syrup, 30% sugar, and 1% to 2% gelatin. A combination of different sugars is used to control the solubility of the solution. The corn syrup / sugar ratio affects the texture by slowing down the crystallization of sucrose. The smooth texture of marshmallows is based on disordered or amorphous sugar molecules. In contrast, increasing the sugar ratio to around 60% to 65% results in a grainy marshmallow. Temperature also plays an important role in making smooth marshmallows by shortening the window of time for ordered crystals to form. To ensure that the sugars are disordered, the sugar syrup solution is heated to a high temperature and then quickly cooled.


Sucrose is a disaccharide made up of a glucose and fructose molecule. This sugar gives the marshmallow sweetness and bulk, while the foam gets a firm consistency as it cools. Sucrose and sugar in general affect a foam's ability to form, but improve foam stability. Therefore, sucrose is used in conjunction with a proteinaceous gelatin. The protein can adsorb, unfold and form a stable network, while the sugar can increase viscosity. The liquid drainage of the continuous phase must also be minimized. Thick liquids drain more slowly than thin ones. So if you increase the viscosity of the continuous phase, the drainage will decrease. A high viscosity is important if a stable foam is to be produced. Hence, sucrose is a key ingredient in marshmallow. However, because of its tendency to crystallize, sucrose is rarely used alone.

Corn syrup

Corn syrup, sometimes known as glucose syrup, is a syrup that contains dextrin, maltose, and dextrose. A partial hydrolysis of corn starch gives it. Corn syrup is important in making marshmallow because it prevents other sugars (like sucrose) from crystallizing. Depending on the Dextrose Equivalent (DE) of the glucose syrup used, it can also contribute to the body, reducing the sweetness and changing the taste release.

The DE is the measure of the amount of reducing sugars that are present in a sugar product in relation to glucose. Glucose syrups with a lower DE provide a tougher texture, while syrups with a higher DE make the product more tender. In addition, depending on the type of DE used, the sweetness, hygroscopicity and browning of the marshmallow can be changed. Corn syrup is tasteless and cheap to make, which is why confectionery makers love this product.

Turn the sugar over

Invert sugar is created when sucrose is broken down by adding water, also known as hydrolysis. This molecule has all the properties of honey with the exception of taste, as it is the main sugar in honey. This means that invert sugar can prevent crystallization and create a tender marshmallow. It's also an effective humectant that allows water to be trapped and the marshmallow to prevent drying out. This is not a good trait for some candies, but it is a benefit for marshmallows because it is high in moisture.

Additional ingredients


Unless a variation of the standard marshmallow is made, vanilla is always used as the flavor. The vanilla can be added either in extract form or by pouring the vanilla pods into the sugar syrup while it is cooking. This is the best technique for achieving an even flavor distribution in the marshmallow.


Acids such as tartar or lemon juice can also be used to increase foam stability. The addition of acid lowers the pH value. This reduces the charge on the protein molecules and brings them closer to their isoelectric point. This results in a stronger, more stable interfacial film. When added to protein, acid prevents excessive aggregation at the interface. However, acid delays the formation of foam. It can therefore be added towards the end of the whipping process after a stable foam has been created.

production method

Commercial process

In commercial marshmallow making, the entire process is streamlined and fully automated.

Gelatin is cooked with sugar and syrup. After the gelatin-containing syrup has boiled, it is allowed to cool slightly before air is incorporated. The beating is generally carried out in a rotor-stator device. Compressed air is injected into the warm syrup, which is kept at a temperature just above the melting point of the gelatin. In a marshmallow aerator, pins on a rotating cylinder (rotor) that mesh with stationary pins on the wall (stator) provide the shear forces necessary to break the large injected air bubbles into numerous tiny bubbles that form the smooth, fine-grain texture of the mouse fat. A continuous stream of light, fluffy marshmallow leaves the aerator on its way to the forming step.

The marshmallow confection is typically made in one of three ways. First, it can be extruded and cut into pieces in whatever shape you want, as is the case with jet-puffed marshmallows. Second, like peeps, it can be put on a belt. Third, it can be deposited in a starch-based mold in a mogul to make various shapes.

House building process

The home process for making marshmallow is different from commercial processes. A mixture of corn syrup and sugar is boiled to around 122 ° C. In a separate step, gelatin is hydrated with enough warm water to make a thick solution. Once the sugar syrup has cooled to around 38 ° C, the gelatin solution is mixed in along with the desired flavor and beaten in a kitchen gadget or Hobart mixer to achieve final density. The marshmallow is then scooped from the bowl, placed on a table, and cut into pieces.

Fried marshmallows

A marshmallow roasted over an open flame is a popular camping treat.
An open faced s'more made with graham crackers, marshmallow, and chocolate

A popular camping or backyard tradition in the UK, North America, New Zealand and Australia is to fry or toast marshmallows over a campfire or other open flame. A marshmallow is placed on the end of a stick or skewer and gently held over the fire. This creates a caramelized outer skin with a liquid, melted layer underneath. Main flavor compounds and color polymers with sugar associated browning created during the caramelization process.

S'mores are a traditional campfire treat in the United States that involves placing a toasted marshmallow on a chocolate platter that is placed between two graham crackers. These can then be squeezed together, causing the chocolate to begin to melt.


Marshmallows are defined as foods with minimal nutritional value in US law.

Nutritional preferences

Marshmallow rabbits in an Easter basket

The traditional marshmallow recipe uses powdered marshmallow roots, but most commercially made marshmallows use gelatin in their manufacture instead. Vegans and vegetarians avoid gelatin, but there are versions that use a non-animal gelling agent like agar. Additionally, marshmallows are generally not considered kosher or halal unless their gelatin is derived from kosher or halal animals, or unless they are vegan.

Marshmallow cream and other less firm marshmallow products generally contain little or no gelatin, the main purpose of which is to help the familiar marshmallow confectionery hold its shape. They usually use egg whites instead. Non-gelatin, egg-based versions of this product can be consumed by ovo vegetarians. There are different brands of vegetarian and vegan marshmallows and marshmallow fluff.

See also


External links

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