Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Marsh Mallows

See, now about 1/4 of you are laughing, and the other 3/4 are going "whaaaaat?"

Yes. That, above, is a marsh mallow. They are native to northern Africa, but it's been naturalized just about everywhere. All the way back to the ancient Egyptians, it was used medicinally. The roots produce this goo ('mucilage') that soothes sore throats and helps acidic upset stomach. Some folk used it on their skin, like a moisturizing lotion. They're also grown all over as an ornamental; see how pretty they are? They're related to hollyhocks, hibiscus, and even (distantly) chocolate.

Back in the day (a couple-three hundred years ago), French confectioners used the goo in the roots to make what we know as proto marchmallows-the-candy. They'd whip the goo, add sugar, and other flavorings like rosewater.

These days, since marsh mallows aren't easy to farm, we imitate htem instead with egg whites instead of root goo.

Hmmm. Homemade marshmallows for Christmas, instead of some of the cookies. Yeah. I can do that.

13 comments:

Rosewort said...

I actually grow marshmallow in my garden! One cluster grows up to 9' tall in the summer.

KnitTech said...

Marshmallows was a conversation on one of the Ravelry boards.

Donna Lee said...

I love handmade marshmallows. The texture is so different, more soft. I have everything I need to make them, I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet. It might be good for the holidays.

Roxie said...

Only once have I had home-made marshmallows and they were divine!

Anonymous said...

k, i have a question. what is the difference between a grain and a seed? is this like the difference between a fruit and a veggie? i know you will the answer to this

NeedleTart said...

Will you add the rosewater?

Silver Phoenix said...

I make my marshmallows with gelatine, not egg whites. They're much easier to make (although I wouldn't call the process tidy) that way.

I need to make some for the holiday, actually. Cinnamon and peppermint ones and some plain, to send to friends. Oddly enough, without the preservatives and dyes, they last three to four times as long in the cabinet!

Emily said...

I hate to confess this, but until I was 24 I assumed marshmallows grew on sort of low bushes...which shows how closely I examine any thought.

Then there was "misled": I thought the same spelling was used for two different words. One was with a short "i", as it's supposed to be, meaning what it's supposed to mean. The other had a long "i", and its meaning was similar, only more deliberate & sneaky. (It was the past form of a verb, "to misle".)The only way to know the difference was the context. I learned my mistake when I overheard a very bright woman I know explain that she used to think the same thing.

Now that my hearing is going, my world is becoming ever more amazing.

Louiz said...

I've seen Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (no doubt mis-spelled) make actual marsh mallow marshmallow. Looks quite tasty.

Alwen said...

*waves to Rosewort in the comments*

Hey! I have a patch of marsh mallow, too!

Madam Backslash said...

Mum used to make slabs of home-made marshmallow for our school lunches. She always made it two layers and two colours -- whatever colours took her fancy on the day -- and rolled it in coconut. I remember orange and white, which were our soccer team's colours.

Haven't made it myself. Considering I have a Kenwood stand mixer, that's pretty poor. I'll have to give it a go.

Steve the Slayman said...

The name comes from both its family name, mallow or malva and where it was first grown, in the 'marshy' area of the Nile River delta. It can be used like aloe vera or as 'Peasants Medicinal Stew' to, internally "cure what ails ya'". It had ben working for over 5,100 years in Egypt and also Mesopotamia. Ans that's the truth!

Amy Lane said...

Wow... that's so cool!