Today we would like to share a recipe for homemade Marshmallows!
One fun thing (there are many) about using plant medicine is we can get very creative about how we ingesr our medicine. This week my daughter and I made homemade marshmallows delicately flavoured with organic spearmint. She didn’t even realize that the marshmallows were medicinal because she was distracted by how delicious they were!
Many people are aware that the white puffs of sugar that we call “marshmallows” were originally made from marshmallow root. They may even be one of our oldest forms of confection in recorded history. Ancient Egyptians reportedly mixed honey with marshmallow root for a sweet treat. However, not many people today have ever eaten a marshmallow made from real marshmallow root. These days most commercial marshamllows are made from cornstarch and gelatin.
Marshmallow root, Althea officinalis, and to a lesser degree the leaves) contains high amounts of mucilage. Imagine rubbing seaweed between your fingers, and you will know what mucilage feels like: slippery and gooey… This slimy polysaccharide absorbs moisture and swells into a gel-like substance, coating, and soothing the surfaces it comes in contact with. Because of this, Marshmallow is really soothing to dry irritated conditions, such as sore throats or irritation of the stomach or urinary tract.
We had a jar of Oshala marshmallow root powder on hand (there are many perks to working at Oshala). The smell is divine, earthy and sweet. Similarly, other Malvaceae family plants have comparable properties, including hollyhock and common mallow, which you could also use in substitution.
We adapted the following recipe from Leslie Tierra’s A Kids Herb Book:
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar (it’s okay to use less)
- 2 tablespoons marshmallow root powder
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Separate 2 eggs. Save the yolks for another recipe.
Beat the egg whites until foamy but not quite stiff.
Add in 1/2 tsp. vanilla or other delicious flavoring.
Slowly beat in up to 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp at a time
Beat in 2 tablespoons marshmallow root powder
Drop mixture using teaspoonful at a time on a lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 1 hour.
Remove from sheet and let cool. Yum!
Refrigerate extras (if there are any) in a sealed container for up to several days.
My daughter was in the mood for mint. So, we pulled out the mortar and pestle (every herbalist needs one!) and powdered up some spearmint. Then we added the powdered spearmint at the end right before baking. These little morsels ended up crispier than expected. Consequently, they were more like toasted marshmallows than fresh ones. Nonetheless, they were chewy and delicious! I know what I’ll be bringing along on the family camping trip this summer. We’ll have to perfect our technique a bit, so they are ready for roasting over the fire. However, I am super excited that my homemade marshmallows are irresistible and kid-approved. Most importantly, they don’t contain any corn syrup or mysterious chemicals!
Lauren (she/her) is the founder of Backyard Wildcraft which inspires people to attend to the land beneath their feet and nurture relationships with plants. She’s a community herbalist and medicine crafter trained in the Vitalist lineage. Lauren leads community plant walks and classes, offers personalized backyard consultations, and works at Oshala farm. She lives in the Bear Creek watershed in Southern Oregon with her family.
Respected herbalist, educator, and author Lesley Tierra, L.Ac. is a founding and professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, and a contributing writer and Dean of the East West Herb School. In A Kid’s Herb Book, she shares healing wisdom with children and their parents. This unique book is a creative blend of practical information, projects, activities, preparations, color-in artwork, stories, lore, and original songs about herbs.