Halal Marshmallows – Learn What Makes Them Different
When it comes to camping, cookouts, or wintertime, marshmallows are a staple snack that everyone likes! They are great as a stand-alone snack to munch on, partner perfectly with chocolate and biscuits, as well as a hot cup of cocoa. Most marshmallows are not halal or kosher and don’t meet the dietary restrictions of these faiths.
The simple reason is that most marshmallows manufactured in the U.S or abroad are made with gelatin derived from pork. Technically, marshmallows are a confection — a candy. They’ve been around in the form we know them since the mid-1800s.
Although history shows ancient Egyptians were the first to enjoy the gooey treat now called marshmallow as early as 2000 BC. They are called “marshmallows” because part of the early recipe called for sap from the root of the marshmallow plant.
Marshmallows were introduced and popularized in the United States in the early 1900s after the new manufacturing process was developed. In 1948, Alex Doumak revolutionized the process of manufacturing marshmallows. He created and patented the extrusion process. This process involves taking the marshmallow ingredients and running them through tubes.
Afterward, ingredients are cut into equal pieces and packaged. In the 1950s, marshmallows became extremely popular in the United States and were used in a variety of food recipes. Today, Americans are the main consumers of marshmallows. According to experts, Americans buy more than 90 million pounds annually.
Marshmallow is considered a year-round snack even though the majority is sold during October and December.
Why is Gelatin Added to Marshmallows?
Gelatin is incredibly important to the process because it’s what gives marshmallows that fluffy, elastic, squishy texture. Food scientists say that when all the ingredients are whipped together, gelatin essentially acts to bind liquid into the mixture.
That creates the fluffy foam that becomes your marshmallow, which also acts to extend the shelf life of the product. Marshmallows have a shelf life of up to 24 months and still be perfectly fine and fresh! When it comes to halal marshmallows instead of gelatin that is derived from pork, the gelatin is sourced from cow proteins instead!
This small step is the difference between being able to enjoy the snack for many Muslims who follow halal life standards.
How are Halal Marshmallows Made?
Marshmallows are made from only a few ingredients, which fall into two main categories: sweeteners and emulsifying agents. Sweeteners include corn syrup, sugar, and dextrose. Proportionally, there is more corn syrup than sugar because it increases solubility (the ability to dissolve) and retards crystallization.
Corn starch, modified food starch, water, gum, gelatin, and/or whipped egg whites are used in various combinations. The resulting combination gives the halal marshmallows their texture. They act as emulsifying agents by maintaining fat distribution and providing the aeration that makes marshmallows fluffy. Gum, obtained from plants, also can act as an emulsifier in marshmallows, but it is also important as a gelling agent. Most marshmallows also contain natural and/or artificial flavoring. If they are colored marshmallows, the color usually. comes from artificial coloring.
A solution is formed by dissolving sugar and corn syrup in water and boiling it. Egg whites and/or gelatin is mixed with the sugar solution. Then the ingredients are heated in a cook kettle to about 240°F (115°C). The resulting mixture is passed through a strainer to remove extraneous matter. In the pump, the mixture is then beaten into a foam to two or three times its original volume. At this stage, flavoring can be added.
Forming of Halal Marshmallows
The heated mixture is transferred to a heat exchanger. Air is pumped into the mixture. The mixture cools in a tempering kettle, passes through another filter, and the marshmallow continues onto the “hill.”
Marshmallows are extruded through a machine or deposited onto bands. The extrusion process involves the foam being squeezed through a die to produce the marshmallow’s familiar pillow shape. Usually, they get a coating of cornstarch to counter stickiness and help maintain their form after they have been extruded. Sometimes the pillows are formed into a rope of pillows. If so, they are cut and dried on a rubber conveyor belt.
Cooling the Halal Marshmallows
After the pillows are formed, they are sent through a cooling drum, where excess starch is removed. They also are cooled enough to be packaged.
Packaging the Halal Marshmallows
After the pillows have cooled, they are weighed and packaged. Before being put in cases, some manufacturers pass their product through a metal detector. The case is code-dated and shipped to retail stores. An ideal marshmallow is created in a manufacturing environment where the size of the bubbles in the foam that forms the marshmallow is controlled.
These small bubbles should be evenly distributed throughout a stable foam. If several factors are controlled, including every factor of the beating process, marshmallows will be formed correctly. A substandard marshmallow has large bubbles. These bubbles are conducive to syrupy layers and voids.