Marshmallow, also known as mallow root and Schloss tea, is an herb found throughout western Europe, the Middle East and the eastern US.
The roots of the plant have long been harvested as a vegetable and were well known to the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. Although the Egyptians first produced a sweet treat from the roots, the confection we know as “marshmallow” today no longer contains any botanical materials. However, an extract made from marshmallow root is still popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, most notably as an ingredient in a traditional food called halva, which contains a varied combination of tahini, clarified butter, sugar, seeds, nuts and vegetables.
At one time marshmallow was used to make the classic confection of the same name, although today the foodstuff is largely composed of corn syrup and gelatin. In France, however, traditional confectioners still use marshmallow root to make a fluffy paste called Pâét‚ de Guimauve, which is rolled into long lanyards or ropes and cut into shapes.
The flowers are added to salads or fried like fritters. An extract made from the root of the plant is an ingredient in the Middle Eastern sweet treat known as halva.
Powdered marshmallow root may be added directly to foods as a thickening agent. It may also be applied to the skin as a moist poultice, or infused in oil to produce soaps, lotions and other skin care products.