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Month Less Plastic: Maple Marshmallows

Maple Marshmallows

We love marshmallows. We love them bobbing in hot cocoa in the cold months, and roasted over our backyard fire pit in the hot months. We’ve managed two fires this summer, coaxing wet wood to burn then huddling around the flames perched on damp chairs, wearing our layers of long sleeves and jackets. We’re still waiting for the sun to shine down on the Salish Sea this year, and we wanted fresh marshmallows for our cocoa on these rainy afternoons if we couldn’t have a campfire. Could we make our own and skip the plastic-bagged version from the store? Would they be too much work? Would they taste as good?

Yesterday, the girls built forts in the living room and we made nearly-plastic-free marshmallows. I had to buy sugar and couldn’t get to the store with the bulk department. Instead, I found the raw sugar I like in a polyethylene bag (recyclable), for less per pound than the bulk version. The bulk department is almost always less expensive, but sometimes it’s not. And these days, in this economy as experienced by my household, we have to go with the less cash-expensive option even when it comes with a higher long-term environmental price. That’s how it is for us, and I’m sure for others, too. We could always say no to sugar and have fresh berries instead, but I’m trying hard to find the balance between living frugally and with a smaller footprint on the earth while still allowing my children some moments of good old-fashioned American childhood joy (roasted marshmallows, for example).

So, back to the marshmallows. I looked at quite a few recipes online, then settled on the springy, fluffy marshmallows from Smitten Kitchen. We used maple syrup in place of the corn syrup, and egg whites from our hens, and perhaps a bit more gelatin than called for because I couldn’t find my 1/2 tsp measure. No matter, the marshmallows are amazing. I love the maple syrup flavor, and according to some directions I found online, you can substitute any sort of syrup (maple, rice, Lyle’s Golden, etc) in place of the corn – Handy if you want to avoid corn syrup for your own reasons, or live where it’s not available.

time for a sample

The Smitten Kitchen photographs are beautiful, but to prove you can do this in a kid-cluttered kitchen, here are some pics (a few by Miss A) of the making of our maple marshmallows. This wasn’t hard. Get yourself a candy thermometer (one tool that can’t be made from plastic!) and cook up a batch for your own summer nights; you’ll be set whether it’s dry enough for a campfire or cool enough for cocoa. We are determined to roast a few of these, just as soon as the rain drains from our fire pit.

Back to our questions about plastic-free home-made marshmallows:

Could we make our own and skip the plastic-bagged version from the store? Yes, indeed!

Would they be too much work? No, not at all.

Would they taste as good? No – They’re better, much better!

See my Marshmallow Update for details about how well they roast…

almost at hard ball stage

beating the gelatin and hot syrup

pouring the finished fluffiness into the pan

cutting the marshmallows the next morning

9 comments on “Month Less Plastic: Maple Marshmallows

  1. Your treats look fantastic! I have tried making marshmallows many times – and always end up with the same problem – they never dry out and I end up with marshmallow fluff. I live in the Pacific Northwest so it may be a humidity issue. Any ideas or suggestions? TY!

    • Hi Ali – The humidity didn’t stop these from setting and I am quite impressed, since it’s been so darn cold and wet here. We made these yesterday, not during any of our 78 minutes of summer so far this year. I think the combination of gelatin and egg whites is what makes these work. They truly are fluffy and springy, and they really did bounce (!) when I dropped them into the jars this morning, after cutting them and dusting them with powdered sugar. Give that Smitten Kitchen recipe a try and if it doesn’t work, I’ll bring you some of this batch 🙂

  2. Hooray for Marshmallows! Leo was very excited to see this recipe–and although we can’t get corn-syrup here in Cheeseland–we can get Maple syrup (imported from Canada!) Your pictures are inspiring and wonderful! Yum! I did however get a little teary seeing your blazing red KitchenAid—as I am still in mourning for my ‘vintage’ cream-colored one I sold before moving to France—Quelle dommage!

    • Cat, I hope you and Leo get to try these soon! You can always make up a simple sugar syrup instead of the maple if you don’t want that added flavor. I’m so sorry you had to leave your beautiful KitchenAid behind! Oui, quelle dommage!

  3. […] the beginning of our Month Less Plastic, I made a batch of marshmallows less plastic. That was back when we were sure summer really was going to happen. We were looking forward to long […]

  4. Marcus has been waiting, NOT so patiently for this day. He is nearly driving me nuts. “How are they made? What’s in them? Are they hard to make?…. on and on. Now, all will be divulged. And I can send him to you, our expert. This marshmallow possibility has turned him 7 yrs old! Good though. He has been sharing toasted store bought marshmallows with new friends in the alley as he makes tea and we play music for first Thur. Thank you, we will let you know how it goes.
    I had a huge success today. We made ginger syrup. I like it on pancakes, and frozen dessert. This time we also candied the ginger. And Big Surprise…the best ginger ale according to Nora.

  5. Rebecca, I am looking over the recipe. I can see that I will need a metal bowl for my mixer when it’s time to pour the hot sugar mixture over the cold gelatin mixture. I just have glass at the moment. I do have some generic metal mixing bowls that do not go round and round in my mixer. So I’m looking into that. My mixer is a hand me down from my mother-in-law, not a Kitchen Aid. The question I need some help with is why the baking pan needs to be metal. I have a Pyrex cake pan, and an enameled metal lasagne pan the right sizes. I’m wondering if the pan really needs to be metal. Maybe it conducts cold better if you want your treats in just a few hours. But I can’t think of another reason that the glass or enameled pans wouldn’t work, can you?. Thanks, Dusty

    • Hi Dusty – I think a heat-proof glass mixing bowl should be just fine, really; anything that can take the sudden influx of hot sugar syrup will work. And I think any sort of 9×13 pan will work, too. Just make sure you oil and dust it well, that is key to getting the finished mallows out!
      Thanks for the beautiful music today – My girls were enchanted and impressed!

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