Marshmallows, although quite easy to make, introduce many confectionery skills to the food
product manufacturer. No one recipe will satisfy everyone’s requirements and for that reason the
author is encouraging the would-be marshmallow producer to experiment. However, it is
important to remember that the basic principles of food processing still apply, ie that the
product is safe to eat over a time period which satisfies the marketing, transporting, storage,
retailing and eating characteristics of the product. This is referred to as the shelf-life.
What is a marshmallow?
A marshmallow is a light, fluffy sweet made by beating air into a sugar solution containing (a
type of) gum (eg gelatine), colour and flavour. This mixture is then poured into moulds and
allowed to set. To explain some of the science behind the process: beating air into the gelatine
solution produces a structure not unlike that of bread, although with smaller air bubbles. The
gelatine will eventually harden and in so doing will trap the air that has been added to the
mixture. The resulting product is spongy and slightly rubbery.
Although the reason for making marshmallows may be that they are not already available in your
area, and therefore have a good market potential, it would be a good idea to try and identify an
existing supplier, if one exists, and take a good look at the product. Can you match or improve
the quality at a competitive price?
How to make marshmallows
Originally 'marshmallows' were used for medicinal purposes and contained the root of the
marshmallow plant, sugar, gum and egg-white. Since those times the basic ingredients have
remained unchanged with the exception that marshmallow root is no longer used.
The basic ingredients and approximate proportions are as follows:
Some recipes include the use of albumen (egg-white). However, perfectly good marshmallows
can be made without egg-white and more importantly, marshmallows made without egg-white are
more stable and less prone to spoilage and therefore, the risk of food poisoning from
Other ingredients sometimes used for marshmallows are cream of tartar and/or citric acid. Both
these ingredients can assist the inversion of sugar which can improve the keeping quality of the
product by minimising the chance for the sugar to form crystals. Crystal formation will give the
marshmallows an unsatisfactory texture. In addition, cream of tartar gives a mild acid taste to
the product which some consumers prefer. The use of these ingredients may allow the amount
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