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My girlfriend is vegetarian and we have been trying to make marshmallows at home but so far after over four tries with agar agar we have yet to be very successful. We have made one batch that were tasty - but too dense to really be marshmallows (but sweet and we coated them with roasted coconut so they were quite edible) but our other tries have resulted in gooey, sticky not very tasty concoctions.

So what are the secrets to making vegetarian marshmallows at home?

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2 Answers 2

You can buy vegetarian gelatin quite easily I believe. One thing to be careful of is the amount, as sheets of gelatin vary in size; I made some marshmallows a while back that called for 12 sheets, but the ones I had were half the size of those used by the recipe author.

Also, leave them to set overnight, regardless of what the recipe says, or it will be like trying to pry week-old gum out of the pan!

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where do you get "vegetarian" gelatin? In general that isn't possible - there are alternatives that have a similar purpose (agar agar, methycelluloses etc but these are alternatives not direct replacements for gelatin. –  Shannon John Clark Feb 2 '11 at 9:32
    
I think they are gelatins in name only. See oetker.co.uk/oetker_uk/html/default/debi-7nacm3.en.html for example. This one is a mix of carageenan and locust bean gum, in powder form. Most come with instructions for substitution with animal gelatin. –  ElendilTheTall Feb 2 '11 at 11:01
    
Kosher gelatin is also usually vegetarian. However, my experience with all of these substitutes is that they're only useful for a very limited subset of gelatin applications which doesn't include marshmallows; many of them contain agar and most contain an actual non-reversible thickener like dextrose or guar gum. –  Aaronut Feb 2 '11 at 17:03
    
hmm the Kosher gelatin I found on a quick Google search was pretty clear that it was Bovine in origin but I'll look further the next time I see it in a store –  Shannon John Clark Feb 2 '11 at 17:25
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Sorry to disappoint, but kosher gelatin is almost never vegetarian. All that kosher means in this context is that it's from a kosher animal -- thus it could be from cows or chickens, but not from pigs. See here: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/7491/is-gelatin-vegetarian/… –  Martha F. Feb 2 '11 at 17:39

This is definitely one of those times where I wouldn't recommend substituting agar for gelatin; it's simply far too stiff for marshmallows.

If you can get hold of some methyl cellulose, it works great for marshmallows. Unlike other gelling agents, methyl cellulose hydrates in cold water and sets when heated, so you can roast it with direct heat and it will still hold its shape. All you need is methyl cellulose, vanilla, sugar, and water.

You can find the full recipe at playing with fire and water (see "methocel marshmallow", second on the page).

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Be sure and read the comments on that post, there are a whole variety of methycelluloses categorized by a letter and number code, you need the right one if you are going to exactly follow that recipe. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Feb 2 '11 at 6:17
    
indeed - though I have had vegetarian marshmallows which were pretty stable - i.e. they didn't collapse after 15 mins as the article notes these may. I'm curious how these were made (had at a fantastic vegetarian restaurant in Chicago on a recent trip) –  Shannon John Clark Feb 2 '11 at 7:15
    
@Shannon, those won't collapse after 15 minutes if you use the right type of methylcellulose and set it correctly; just don't refrigerate them. See the same author's post on methylcellulose. If you really want them to have long-term room temperature stability then you can sacrifice some of the softness and either use A type or combine some E with A. –  Aaronut Feb 2 '11 at 17:13

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