MARVELLOUS MARSHMALLOWS: FOAMING AT ITS BEST
Marshmallows are sweets that have been popular for decades. Although marshmallows seem quite modern, they do in fact date back to the ancient Egyptians in 2000 BC who made a honey based candy and thickened it with the sap of the marsh mallow plant (Althea officinalis). Fast forward to France in the 19th century: the first whipped marshmallows appeared when marsh mallow sap was combined with egg white and sugar. Seeking a more efficient manufacturing process, candy makers in Europe developed the starch mogul system, in which a mixture of marsh mallow root, sugar, egg white and water was heated and then poured into cornstarch molds.
Today, some marshmallows are still produced using the mogul system. But, in 1948, marshmallow production was revolutionized when the so-called extrusion process was patented: the marshmallow mass is aerated by using pressurized gas and, by passing it through a die to achieve the classic pillow shape, a wonderful fluffy and light foam is created. This is then cut into pieces, which are then cooled and packaged, ready for consumption.
But, did you know, those light foamy treats that melt in hot drinks or get toasted around a campfire wouldn't be the ones we know and love today? The humble marshmallow is no longer used. Instead, it’s gelatin that’s become one of the most integral and indispensable parts of current formulations, acting as a foaming and stabilizing agent. Although there are other ingredients that are able to build foams, none of them gives marshmallows its typical fluffy and elastic structure, which remains intact during lengthy storage periods. In fact, without gelatine, modern-day marshmallows would be very different.
For example, when gelatin is added to the sugar mass, it is very easy to form a large volume of foam. Gelatin not only decreases the surface tension, which facilitates foam formation, it also stabilizes the air/liquid phase interface by forming a film. And, once set, it prevents phase separation.
The days when a marshmallow was simply a marshmallow are long gone. Depending on the country and market for which it is produced, there may be varying preferences in terms of texture, size and form, appearance, flavor release and mouthfeel. And, aside from individual marshmallows, there is a large variety of other sweets that use marshmallow as a component — such as marshmallow candies and even ice creams with marshmallow pieces. Each of these products makes different demands on its formulation; but, in all cases, gelatin is the one ingredient that exerts the greatest influence over the quality of the end product.
To achieve that high-quality outcome, choosing the right type of gelatin is of paramount importance. Each of the technical features of the chosen type must be optimally tailored to the product’s demands. Even if all of the other components of a formulation seem to be correct, the production and product may not be successful if the wrong gelatin has been chosen.
GELITA provides its customers with in-depth expertise in this field, along with specific gelatin products that are suitable for numerous applications. To increase their knowledge of application techniques and the adjustment of gelatin types, GELITA experts continuously broaden their knowledge in both specific applications and the underlying science. This means that manufacturers who are looking to expand their product portfolio with a marshmallow product can rely on years of GELITA’s knowledge and consult its specialists to develop a prototype tailored to their own specific needs.
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