Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today I learnt...that Marshmallows grow on trees.

As a dorky girl Guide I roast them on the camp fire.  As a sulking teenager I added them to ice cream and cakes.  As a, supposed, grown up I guiltily add them to hot chocolate at any given opportunity and just last week I popped a few into to cookie mix as an experiment*.

Until today I didn't know the truth and quite frankly I'm shocked.  Had I been asked in a pub quiz if this was true or false I would have most definetley have been kicked off my team or stunned into a contemplative silence, which is exactly what happened to me today.

Here's how I found out...

I recently realised that one of my favourite plants had died over the winter due to the unusually heavy snow fall.  This plant was a Althaea officinalis more commonly known as a marshmallow plant.  Now, the clues in the name and in hindsight I could have possibly looked into the origins if it's common name instead of assuming, as I did, that it was due to the 'marshmallowly' flower.

Whilst discussing the death of my plant our friend Wayne commented on 'growing marshmallows' we laughed - ok fine I did!  I also mockingly said something along the lines of "ha ha, that's funny"/"don't be daft"/"marshmallows don't grow on trees".  I was wrong, wrong and wrong again.  Wayne was right!

It turns out that marshmallows haven't always been (and in fact aren't always still) made from just sugary stuff and pink food colouring. There was/is a medicinal confection made from a substance found in the root of the Althaea officinalis and used to help sore throats.  Marshmallows as medicine - now tha'ts a dream I never thought would come true!

So, whilst we won't see bushes of budding flumps lining our country lanes.  Nor are we likely to see homegrown marshmallows at this weekends farmers market,  We could, if we wanted to make our own delicious marshmallows.  Well, if we still had a marshmallow plant we could.

*A successful experiment I might add....

...Ever expanding brain biscuits:
  • 6 oz flour 
  • 4 oz butter 
  • 2 oz castor sugar  
  • Handful of Marshmallows.
  1. Mix and bake until golden.
  2. Leave for a minute to set.
  3. Enjoy with hot chocolate!

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