Are Marshmallows Gluten Free? The Truth Finally Unveiled!

marshmallows

Are marshmallows gluten free?

You mentioned marshmallows, and that is indeed mouth-watering. Firstly, marshmallows are raging favorites of the Americans.

Secondly, they are the largest consumers of marshmallow worldwide. Surprisingly, this confection came to the USA only at the turn of this century from France. Since then, it has only picked up more good name for itself.

History Of Marshmallows

The history of the marshmallow is as fascinating as the marshmallow itself. Initially, it existed in the Egyptian culture some 4000 years ago. The exquisite Egyptian marshmallow treat was an exclusive delicacy for the Gods and royalties at that time. Typically, they made the marshmallow from the sap of the marshmallow plants. These plants grew wildly in the marshes. The Egyptians boiled the root pulp of the marshmallow plant with honey. Then, it was cooled down and cut or shaped into candies. Additionally, it was said to have therapeutic values.

However, the new marshmallow is hugely different from its original Egyptian version. It is altogether different in recipe and process. By and large, the French confectioners acted as the catalytic factor in bringing a metamorphic change in the Egyptian recipe. Indeed, the marshmallow reached France in 1800. The confectioners for some years could retain the original content of marshmallow root pulp and sap. But, as the demand grew, they replaced it with starch. And other ingredients too saw a change.

close up image of marshmallows

American Contribution

The Americans, too, contributed their bit in the evolution of the contemporary marshmallow. They tweaked the French recipe. Then, in the year 1948, Mr. Alex Doumak introduced a mechanized process of manufacturing it on a large scale.  Also, that process is on a roll to date in the USA. And, is responsible for producing tons of lip-smacking marshmallows, hungrily gulped down by the Americans.

However, in recent years, for reasons still not known conclusively, lots of people have turned gluten intolerant. Also, the extreme version of this intolerance is known as celiac disease. Gluten is the protein found in cereals like wheat, rye, and barley.

Some recipes of the marshmallow have glucose syrup or wheat starch in it. Certainly, wheat is a confirmed source of gluten. So, such recipes of marshmallows can be a nightmare for gluten intolerant persons.

A large number of people these days are gluten intolerant. Therefore, most of the manufacturers make gluten-free marshmallows. The main ingredients of the marshmallow in the USA are sugar, water, and gelatin. So, gluten intolerant and dairy intolerant persons can consume it with ease.

Marshmallows made out of the USA may not be gluten-free in them. Hence, one needs to take care before consuming brands outside of the USA.

Ingredients To Look Out For To Check If Gluten-Free

The reaction of gluten is very severe in some individuals. Therefore, it is essential to check the gluten-free label on the product. Additionally, it would be wise to check for the ingredients of the marshmallow. The ingredient list is also a fair indication of the presence of gluten.

Presence of any of the following ingredients could mean the presence of gluten as well:

  • Wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat starch
  • Malt
  • Triticum Vulgare
  • Triticum spelta
  • Hordeum vulgare
  • Secale cereal

In addition to the above list, check the presence of any of the following. Since these may also be very risky as far as gluten intolerance is concerned:

  • Natural flavorings
  • Vegetable protein
  • Natural colorings
  • Modified food starch
  • Artificial flavor
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Dextrin
  • Maltodextrin

The most popular brands and varieties which have gluten-free labels on them are:

  • Doumak – Campfire marshmallows
  • Dandies – Vanilla marshmallows
  • Trader Joe’s – marshmallows
  • Elyon’s marshmallow
  • La Nouba’s marshmallow

Incidentally, Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallow is are also gluten-free. Also, it is devoid of cross-contamination issues. But there is a possibility of some suppliers using gluten ingredients. Hence, Kraft is wary of labeling it as ‘Gluten Free.’

Even traces of gluten can lead to very severe reactions in people who have celiac disease. Hence the hesitation by Kraft to label Jet-Puffed marshmallow as gluten-free.

Marshmallows: Nutrition Information

Marshmallows get made out of water, sugar, and gelatin. Therefore, one cannot expect the marshmallow to deliver loads of nutrients. However, it is not as bad, as thought to be. In some cases, corn starch syrup too added as carbohydrates.

Typically, a serving of marshmallow consists of four large-sized marshmallows. That adds up to 28 grams. If it is a mini one, then measure half a cup to constitute one serving of marshmallow.

One serving of marshmallows has about 23-24 grams of carbohydrate. Primarily, it comes from the sugar or the corn starch syrup (if added). That translates to about 90 calories (typically, ten minutes of jogging will burn off 100 calories.)

Generally, the fat content in the marshmallow is very less. It is less than 1 gram. Also, it is equally deficient in protein as well. Less than 1 gm of protein in 28 grams of serving is a poor rating for protein content.

As far as the micronutrients are concerned, it hardly has any of those. Except for traces of phosphorus (2.2milligrams), potassium (1.4milligrams), 0.5microgram of selenium, and sodium to the extent of 22mg are present.

So, ideally, it does not score so impressively on the nutritional values. But being a low calories food, it does help in reducing weight when you eat it as food.

Generally, craving for sweet, if satisfied with marshmallow, can keep your inches in control. Add them to your salad and vegetable and make them more attractive. So, it helps gulp down some good nutritional food. Kids love it in the salads and in whatever you can add them.

The Composition Of Marshmallows According To How Stuff Works

The manufacturing process and the recipe of marshmallows have seen many changes over time. Also, regional influences have left their footprints on the preparation of this popular confection.

As early as the 19th century, mallow roots, along with sugar and egg whites, whipped up into a fluffy mixture. Then it poured in a mold of corn starch. But as the demand soared, it was almost impossible to keep up with it.

So, the recipe went in for a complete overhaul. The main ingredients got replaced by gelatin, corn syrup, corn starch, sugar, and water. However, the name of Marshmallow continued. But the mallow disappeared from the recipe. These ingredients continued for a very long time with some additions of flavoring and coloring agents to satiate local taste. In some cases, wheat starch or wheat protein or hydrolyzed wheat made their presence in the recipe. Probably these were more of an availability influence rather than a matter of taste.

With a rise in gluten intolerance and increased awareness, marshmallow recipes came to its current form.  It has the essential ingredients, like water, sugar, and gelatin.

Ideally, four ingredients are essential to make a marshmallow. And each component has a definite role to play in building up the taste, texture, and flavor. These ingredients are water, air, sugar, and whipping agent (generally it is some sort of protein).

Uniqueness Of Marshmallows

In the commercially produced marshmallows, there can be an addition of proprietary ingredients to retain its particular taste and flavor.

The marshmallows can be made at home as well. Also, in the home recipe, one can add several other ingredients as per the taste and liking of the family.

Above all, the most amazing and exciting thing about the marshmallow is that it quickly melts in the mouth. This trick has a lot to do with the melting point of gelatin. Typically, the melting point of gelatin is just a little less than that of the human body.

So, as soon the marshmallow comes in contact with the tongue and the saliva, it crosses its melting point. That instantly melts the marshmallow in the mouth.

What Is Marshmallow Fluff?

Marshmallow fluff or the marshmallow crème is an attractive variation of the marshmallow. Also, it is very similar in taste to the marshmallows. But the texture is very different. The marshmallow fluff has the body and feel of a spread. Moreover, the ‘Fluffnutter’ sandwich is a raging hit amongst the kids. It has one slice of the bread coated with the thick creamy peanut butter, and the other has a liberal coat of marshmallow fluff. The kids just can’t have enough of it.

Besides, another widespread use of Marshmallow is as a topping of the cake and pastries. It has corn syrup, sugar syrup, vanilla extract, and egg white as the main ingredients. Moreover, it is just like making any fluffy substance or crème. These ingredients, beaten together, form the adorable fluff.

The marshmallow fluff is quite favorite in the tradition of the Northeastern United States. Mr. Archibald Query of Somerville, Massachusetts, is believed to have invented this fluff.

Over some time, it spread to other parts of the USA. Since then, it became as desirable as the marshmallow itself.

What Can You Do With Marshmallows?

graham with roasted marshmallows

The number of uses of a marshmallow is mind-boggling. Along with eating to satiate a sweet tooth, it is an essential ingredient in many of the deserts.

The character of the marshmallow and the people’s love for it make it go with anything and everything.

  • Add a couple of marshmallows to a hot cup of coffee or cocoa, along with cinnamon. And have some wafers too. It is one of the popular ways of eating marshmallows.
  • Use the marshmallow fluff to add frosting to the top of the cupcakes quickly. The humble cake transforms into a happening dessert.
  • Make some quick S’ mores with the marshmallow.

Place the Marshmallow on a graham cracker. Then, sprinkle some chocolate syrup on it. Finish it by placing another graham cracker on that and microwave for about 10 seconds. Fantastic and super yummy S’ more are ready.

  • How can anyone forget the super tasty and super nutritious Fuffnutter sandwiches? Along with the peanut butter, it creates magical sandwiches. These are high protein and delicious too.
  • Make Nutella S’ more pie with marshmallows
  • Marshmallow popcorn is another quick recipe using popcorn.

One can go on listing hundreds of ways using Marshmallow to make a very likable and tasty dessert. People keep on innovating various desserts with marshmallows. And, frankly speaking, you cannot go wrong with the marshmallows around.

What Is Gluten?

In recent times, one comes across this term quite often. Gluten has been around for hundreds of years. But it is only recently that it has caught attention. That, too, for the wrong reason.

Lately, many people around the world seem to have developed moderate to severe intolerance to gluten. Besides, this disorder has kick-started a 15 billion-plus USD business of gluten-free food.

Generally, gluten gets their classification as storage protein (since they store reserves of metal ions and amino acids in themselves). Mainly found in cereals like wheat, rye, barley, etc.

It improves the texture of the food and enhances its moisture-retaining abilities. Also, it has been a part of our diet for centuries. Ans also considered healthy always.

Surprisingly, a large section of the human population (not the majority) have developed allergic and dangerous reactions to gluten. Besides, a few of the gluten allergic communities suffer from the dreaded Celiac disease. In short, a person with celiac disease has zero-tolerance for gluten food.

The autoimmune systems of such a person resort to drastic, severe, and self-destructive methods to ward off the gluten from the body. In short, it is perceived as poisons by people suffering from Severe gluten intolerance.

Interestingly some people are ‘Wheat intolerant’ and not gluten intolerant. Generally, they are ok with gluten from other sources but wheat is intolerable.

Are Vegan Marshmallows Gluten-Free?

According to Gluten-Free Living, the famous marshmallow contains gelatin, which is mainly collagen. It derives out of bones, skin, and ligaments of cows and pigs. That is the reason why marshmallows are not vegan.

But with the increasing popularity of vegan food, vegan Marshmallow has also seen the light of the day. Dandies, one of the significant manufacturers of marshmallows, has vegan marshmallows to offer. Also, vegan marshmallows do not contain gluten, gelatin, and artificial flavors. Besides, all its ingredients are plant-based. Instead, they use plant-based gelling agents like agar-agar or carrageenans derived out of seaweeds. Other plant-based ingredients popularly used are cream of tartar, aquafaba, and corn starch.

However, some manufacturers go a step further. They manufacture the vegan Marshmallow in dedicated vegan manufacturing facilities. Hence, it avoids cross-contamination from the gelatin marshmallow.

Conclusively, one can say that the vegan marshmallows have no gluten. These are a tasty treat for vegetarians and gluten intolerant persons.

Conclusion

Marshmallow is one of the few delights which has survived for thousands of years. In short, it is loved by young and old and made in a variety of ways. However, for gluten-sensitive people, gluten-free marshmallows are available. Also, Vegan types serve the need of the vegetarian clan.

Gluten-sensitive people should always check the label for a gluten-free declaration. Because checking the ingredients can make your doubly sure.

Though not very nutritious in itself, it is safe food and can be a part of lots of desserts. When eaten alone, the marshmallow is a low-calorie food and tasty too. So, tickle your taste buds and maintain your health by eating marshmallows in moderate quantities. One serving at a time should be good to satisfy your sweet tooth. And it will definitely not sit heavy on the waist.

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