The History of Marshmallows and How to Make Them at Home
History of Marshmallows
Marshmallows have an interesting history. Ancient Egyptian royalty enjoyed a delicious candy made from the root of the mallow plant (Althaea officinalis). Doctors in the 1800s used the same root to make a medicinal candy for children's sore throats.
Nineteenth century candy makers made the sweets by hand. Ingredients included mallow root and sugar. The treats were so popular that the "starch mogul" system was invented to keep up with demand. This ingenious method involved dropping marshmallows into pre-formed cornstarch molds and the mallow root was replaced by gelatin, making the process more efficient and faster.
In 1948, Alex Doumak, a marshmallow manufacturer, invented the extrusion process that is still used today, where the marshmallow mixture is piped through long tubes and the candy cut into equal parts.
In the 1950s air was added to the marshmallows, puffing them up to make them fluffy and "jet-puffed."
The primary makers of marshmallows today are Kraft and Doumak, Inc. and it only takes about an hour preparation to make marshmallows commercially.
Make Your Own Marshmallows
Although the process takes longer at home than in a commercial marshmallow-manufacturing plant, it's fun and easy.
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup water
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 5-6 drops any color food coloring
- Pour water into a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let it set for five minutes.
- Lightly coat an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar inside the dish to coat.
- In a large bowl stir together the corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Set aside.
- Stir granulated sugar into gelatin and heat on low until sugar is well dissolved. Add to corn syrup mixture.
- Mix ingredients with an electric mixer on high speed for about 15 minutes. Batter should be stiff. Pour into baking dish.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of powdered sugar on top and pat lightly to smooth. Let it set for 2-4 hours.
- Cut into 1-inch squares with a warm, wet knife. Roll squares in remaining powdered sugar. Rest between sheets of waxed paper and leave overnight.