n (bef. 12c) 1: a pink-flowered European perennial herb (Althaea
officinalis) of the mallow family that is naturalized in the eastern
U.S. and has a mucilaginous root sometimes used in confectionery
and in medicine 2: a confection made from the root of the marshmallow
or from corn syrup, sugar, albumen, and gelatin beaten to a light
spongy consistency; also: a piece of partially dried marshmallow
-- marsh.mal.lowy adj
candy dates back to ancient Egypt where it was a honey-based candy
flavored and thickened with the sap of the root of the Marsh-Mallow
plant (althea officinalis). Marsh-Mallow grows in salt marshes
and on banks near large bodies of water. It is common in the eastern
United States. Until the mid 1800's, marshmallow candy was made
using the sap of the Marsh-Mallow plant. Gelatin replaces the
sap in the modern recipes.
Real marsh mallow is a plant with a long root that actually does grow in a marsh. Nineteenth century doctors extracted juice from the marsh mallow plant's roots and cooked it with egg whites and sugar, then whipped the mixture into a foamy meringue that later hardened, creating a medicinal candy used to soothe children's sore throats. Eventually, advanced manufacturing processes and improved texturing agents eliminated the need for the gooey root juice altogether. Unfortunately, that eliminated the confection's healing properties as a cough suppressant, immune system booster and wound healer.
Healing with Marsh Mallow:
Although the herb isn't widely available in America, with a little luck, you can find marsh mallow teas or crushed marsh mallow root at health food stores. Make a tea by boiling ½ to 1 teaspoon of crushed root per cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. You may also find marsh mallow gel, which used externally on cuts and abrasions. This herb is effective at:
a cough and soothing sore throats: The flowers, leaves and roots
of the marsh mallow plant all contain a thick, gooey substance
called mucilage. "This substance soothes irritation in your
throat and helps you stop coughing," claimed the late Heinz
Rosler, Ph.D., formerly with the department of medicinal chemistry
at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore.
In fact, when pitted against two other remedies in an Eastern
European study of cough suppressants, marsh mallow outperformed
both. IN Germany, teas containing marsh mallow are commonly sold
for this purpose.
Pick Your Own:
Marsh mallow grows in marshes, bogs, damp meadows and along stream banks. The plant is a 5 foot perennial with a long taproot. The stems, which die back each autumn, are hairy and branching. The roundish, gray-green leaves are also hairy and grow about 1 to 3 inches long. The plant produces pink or white flowers in summer.
Want to grow your own? This plant flourishes in moist soil under full sun. Propagate it from seeds, cuttings or root division in autumn. Thin to 2 feet apart. Harvest roots only from plants over 2 years old. In fall, when the top growth has died back, dig out mature roots and remove the lateral rootlets. Wash, peel and dry them whole or in slices.
There's nothing in medical literature suggesting that marsh mallow is dangerous in any way. Still, it's always best to use medicinal herbs in consultation with your doctor. If marsh mallow causes discomforts such as stomach upset, discontinue use.
About Jet-Puffed Marshmallows History
makers needed to find a new, faster way of making marshmallows.
As a result, the "starch mogul" system was developed
in the late 1800s. Rather than making marshmallows by hand, the
new system let candy makers create marshmallows in molds made
of modified cornstarch (like jelly beans, gummies and candy corn
are made today). At about the same time, mallow root was replaced
by gelatin, providing marshmallows with their "stable"
Vegan Marshmallows Recipe
2 1/2 T.
vegetable gelatin (Eme's Kosher Gel)