Makin' marshmallows

Hi Matt:

Can you explain how they make marshmallows?

-- Pat Paul R., the net

Oh, of course I can. Did you even have to ask? They melt sugar, then they blow it up. Then we put it on a stick and burn it. The short, tragic life of a marshmallow.

The commercial formula is about 50% sucrose (common sugar) with some glucose (uncommon sugar), water, sticky stuff like gum arabic or gelatin, and maybe some vanilla. The thing you want to do is add enough glucose to keep the sucrose from following its natural instinct to turn back into crystals, but not so much glucose that the candy absorbs a lot of water out of the air and melts the candy back to mush. Once you've got that figured out, take your sugar goop, whip it to a frenzy, and pour the dizzy mix into molds lined with powdered sugar and cornstarch. The gelatin stiffens, and all the tiny air bubbles are trapped. Then we heat up the candy on the end of a stick, the air bubbles expand, the gelatin melts, and the marshmallow falls into the dirt. BTW, marshmallows are named after the flower whose gummy root was used to make the original product, which was a medicine. Use this to convince Mom that S'mores are therapeutic.

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