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.
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…