Homemade marshmallows are a delicious and affordable candy that can be simply made at home with a few simple ingredients. But did you know that marshmallow is actually a plant too? DIY Marshmallows are also a great way to use marshmallow root, one of my favorite medicinal herbs, with a variety of health benefits.
Marshmallow root has been used for centuries to soothe coughs and sore throats, and to treat digestive problems such as ulcers and gastritis. When used in marshmallows, marshmallow root makes the marshmallows more nutritious and creates a medicinal marshmallow!
In this post I dive into a brief history of marshmallows, medicinal uses of marshmallow as well as an easy marshmallow recipe!
A Sweet Treat with a Long History
Marshmallows have a long and storied history, dating back to ancient Egypt. At the time, the root of the marshmallow plant was used to soothe coughs and sore throats. The ancient Greeks and Romans also used marshmallow root medicinally, and the plant was eventually introduced to France in the early to mid-19th century. French confectioners began to use marshmallow root to make a sweet treat called pâte de guimauve. Originally made with eggs, sugar and marshmallow root.
In the late 19th century, American candy makers began to produce their own version of marshmallows, but they replaced the marshmallow root with gelatin. This made marshmallows easier and cheaper to produce, and it also allowed them to be made in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Today, most marshmallows are often used in s'mores, roasted over a campfire, or added to hot chocolate. While most marshmallows are no longer made with marshmallow root (aside from these Sweet Apricity marshmallows), the plant is still used in some traditional herbal remedies. Before we dive into our diy marshmallow let’s chat about the medicinal uses of the plant.
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Marshmallow Root Uses
Marshmallow root, Althaea officinalis, comes from the plant family Malvaceae. It is native to Asia, Europe, and North Africa but naturalized to Eastern United States.
The marshmallow plant grows to about 3-4 feet in height. It is bushy with many branches and has rigid upright stalks that are soft, hairy and white. The leaves are soft and hairy, oblong with a pointed tip and divided into three lobes. The flowers are small and white, lightly pink or bluish in color. They bloom during August and September. The roots are long and tough and branch from a central taproot. They are yellowish white outside and the inside is white and contains a slimy juice.
When we talk about the medicinal uses of a plant such as marshmallow root, its important for home herbalists to know that marshmallow is a sweet yet bitter plant giving marshmallow neutral, cooling and moistening actions on the body.
Medicinally, marshmallow root can be used in teas, tinctures, salves, balms, syrups and powders.
The root contains constituents, vitamins and minerals such as mucilage, pectin, asparagine, tannins, iron, magnesium, calcium and tin. Marshmallow leaf’s vitamins, and minerals contain mucilage, flavonoids, scopoletin, polyphenolic acids.
Marshmallow is useful for the following body systems:
- Mucus membranes
- Gastrointestinal tract
Marshmallow being a demulcent herb, which means that it forms a protective coating over the mucous membranes of the throat and digestive tract. This coating helps to soothe inflammation and irritation, and to reduce pain. Using marshmallow root is also a prebiotic, which means that it nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can help to improve digestion and boost the immune system. This isn’t marshmallows only benefit though!
Medicinal Uses for Marshmallow root and marshmallow leaf uses:
- Anti-inflammatory (arthritis, acne, eczema, psoriasis, colitis, IBS)
- Expectorant (coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia)
- Laxative (constipation, gastritis)
- Demulcent (sore throat, laryngitis
- Kidney Stones
- Sore Nipples
Marshmallow root while generally considered safe for most people those with blood clotting disorders or those on blood thinning medications as well as those pregnant should consult a physician before using. Do not take marshmallow root 2 weeks before or after surgery.
Marshmallow Recipe with Marshmallow Root
This homemade marshmallow recipe is simple and basic yet creates a fluffy, tasty homemade candy that everyone will enjoy! While this is just one marshmallow root recipe later we will cover different ways you can use these marshmallows. Let’s make some medicinal marshmallows shall we?!
Step-by-Step Homemade Marshmallow Directions with Pictures
In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of water. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until the gelatin has softened.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of water, honey, and marshmallow root powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture has come to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, or until the honey or maple syrup has thickened. The candy thermometer should read 240°F (116°C). This is the soft cracked candy stage.
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the gelatin mixture. Continue whisking until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Pour the marshmallow mixture down the side of the mixer bowl and mix on high speed for 5 or so minutes, or until the marshmallows are light and fluffy. The marshmallow root makes these come together quicker. Make sure that the marshmallows are sort whipped like a runny whipping cream as these may harden up fast. If marshmallows get hard they will not be spreadable but still edible.
Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and pour the marshmallows into the pan. Smooth out the top of the marshmallows and let them cool at room temperature for 2-4 hours, or until they are set.
Once the marshmallows have set, cut them into desired shapes and sizes. Dusting with powdered sugar or arrowroot powder will help to keep them from sticking together and keeping your scissors, knife or shaped cutter from sticking during use.
Troubleshooting Homemade Marshmallows
Marshmallows are a candy and so they can be tricky to get right. I thought I had it made in the shade the first time because they came out perfect. When I went to make them the next time I was sure they were simple and found out otherwise. Temperature and timing are everything when making a sweetener into a candy that you want to set just right. Here are the best tips for figuring out all of your homemade marshmallow problems!
Marshmallows are too sticky
Syrup not cooked hot enough or gelatin not dissolved.
Marshmallows are too hard
Syrup cooked too hot or marshmallows not beaten enough.
Gelatin not dissolved or marshmallows not stored properly.
Marshmallows have off-flavor
Ingredients not fresh or marshmallows not cooked properly.
Marshmallows too sweet
Too much honey or maple syrup added.
Marshmallows not sweet enough
Too little honey or maple syrup added.
Marshmallows not fluffy
Gelatin not dissolved or marshmallows not beaten enough.
Marshmallows not white
Marshmallows over cooked or residue was in pan prior to making.
Marshmallows not firming up
Not enough gelatin was used or too short of a cooking time
Tips for Avoiding Marshmallow Problems
- Use fresh ingredients. Make sure that the ingredients you are using are fresh and of good quality. This will help to ensure that your marshmallows have a good flavor and texture.
- Follow the recipe carefully. Be sure to follow the recipe carefully and do not overcook or undercook the marshmallows.
- Use a candy thermometer. A candy thermometer can help you to ensure that the syrup is cooked to the correct temperature.
- Dissolve the gelatin properly. Make sure that the gelatin is dissolved properly before adding it to the syrup.
- Beat the marshmallows until they are fluffy. Be sure to beat the marshmallows until they are light and fluffy. This will help to create a smooth and airy texture.
- Store the marshmallows properly. Store the marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to avoid the most common problems that people have when making homemade marshmallows.
Recipes to Make with Marshmallows
Now it’s time to put our natural marshmallows to use! Of course they can be eaten just by themselves as they originally were intended or you can put them in other yummy recipes like: rice krispie squares, marshmallow and sweet potato recipes, s'mores in the oven, hot cocoa bombs, marshmallow fondue, marshmallow dips, marshmallow frosting, marshmallow cookies and marshmallow brownies. If you enjoyed learning how to take a fun food and add herbs to create a medicinal marshmallow then make sure to grab this free Cooking with Tea E-book that gives you even more ideas of how to turn simple dishes into medicinal delights!
Before you head over there though, I'd love to know, have you ever made homemade marshmallows before? What flavors did you enjoy making? If not, what has kept you from making your own DIY marshmallows at home?
More Herb Posts You May Enjoy!
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