What does marshmallow root do for the body?
Marshmallows are no mere fun food but one of humanities’ earliest confections. They originated from the root of the marsh-mallow plant, an herb of the mallow family which, no surprise, grows in marshes. Ancient Egyptians boiled and mixed the root with honey to create a dense, cake-like confection reserved for the gods and royalty. But the true value of the marshmallow was its medicinal qualities. The root contains a gel-like mucilage that was said to soothe sore throats, gastrointestinal inflammation, stomach ulcers and, even, work as a laxative, among other qualities.
What don’t we use the marshmallow plant today?
As delicious as the marshmallow was as a confection, it was replaced by instant gelatin in the mid-1800s. The mucilage just made it too sticky and temperamental for people to make at home.
Marshmallow Tea Recipes
As a tea, the marshmallow lives on, enjoyed for its flavor, health benefits, and history. As a sweet – not so much, but we DO have vintage marshmallow recipes from Eleanor Parkinson’s book “The Complete Confectioner” published in in 1864. If you give it a try, PLEASE – let us know if you do!
For marshmallow tea, here’s the easy route:
- Place one or two teaspoons of marshmallow root in a cup of hot water. Let steep about 10-minutes. Add sweetener and drink while warm. The tea will grow thicker when cooled.
Here’s another option – A bit harder:
- 1 tbsp marshmallow root
- 1 tsp peppermint leaf, a piece of licorice root, or other botanical companion as desired
- 1 cup warm water
Place the mixture in a covered jar and let sit overnight. Enjoy the drink with honey or other sweetener or as is.
Truly Old Time Marshmallow Recipes… from Eleanor Parkinson in 1864
If you want to give this recipe a try, you may need to cut the quantities to size. Remember early cookbooks were written for domestics in the homes of the well-to-do or for the homemaker herself (aka “Woman of the House”) so she could manage the staff. The quantities might need to be adjusted for today’s smaller size of friends and family. While the lozenge recipe calls for marshmallow powder…or for you to slice the root…you can use the shredded root instead.
- Marshmallow Lozenges. “Marshmallow roots in powder one pound, or slice the root and make a strong decoction, in which you dissolve the gum, fine sugar four pounds. Mix into a paste. If six drops of laudanum be added, with two ounces of liquorice, the pectoral quality of these lozenges will be improved. Good for obstinate coughs.”
- Syrup of Marshmallows — Sirop de Guimauve “Fresh mallow roots eight ounces, water one quart, sugar three pounds. Cleanse the roots, and slice them; make a decoction (See Decoctions), boiling it a quarter of an hour, so as to obtain the mucilage of the root; strain, and finish as wormwood. One ounce of liquorice-root and one ounce of white maidenhair, with a few stoned raisins, may be added.”
Please check with your doctor if you have allergies. The medicinal uses are historic and not recommended as such by True Treats.