Marshmallows, although quite easy to make, introduce many confectionery skills to the food
product manufacturer. No one recipe will satisfy everyones 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
contaminated egg-whites.
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 of glucose, added in its pure form, to be reduced because the inversion process
increases the overall amount of glucose in the recipe. (*See end note). Glucose is a
hygroscopic substance ie it attracts moisture. Therefore, it is important to use the minimum
quantity of glucose necessary to prevent crystallisation of the sucrose. This will minimise the
tendency for the glucose to attract water thus increasing the storage life.
If glucose is difficult to obtain in your area, then an alternative is to use cream of tartar to
produce the invert sugar instead of adding pure glucose. The sugar is dissolved in the water
with the cream of tartar. The whole mixture is then boiled until 116C is achieved and then