Posted in Kafevend Blog

Whether you have tried it for yourself or not, I can imagine that pretty much all of you have seen marshmallows as a topping for a mug of cocoa. Quite why anyone needs that extra burst of calories I don't know, but it is a popular topping. Have any of you ever wondered about how marshmallows came to be though? I must admit, I didn't begin my search with any great measure of gung ho, but the results did surprise me!

Marshmallow is in fact a name for the plant known as the Althaea officinalis, which is indigenous to Africa. The plant was used for its medicinal properties by the ancient Egyptians and it is the sweet treat that they made with it that is the precursor to the marshmallows we enjoy today.  The gooey, white sap was extracted from the plant's roots and mixed with honey and was eaten as a remedy for a sore throat.

The marshmallow as we know it today started out as a sweet made by French confectioners: egg whites, water and sugar were mixed with mallow sap and then heated and whisked to a froth before  individual marshmallows were produced using a mould. The mallow sap acted as a binding agent, producing the springiness in the marshmallow. However, in a bid to speed up the process as the sweet gained popularity, gelatin was substituted. Obviously, this removes the health benefit provided by the mallow sap. But better a quick buck than a sore throat, eh?

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