Thursday, June 26, 2014

More From Euell Gibbons - Common Mallow

This plant is called Common Mallow or Malva neglecta. Malva has Greek origins and means soothing, softening, and generally pleasant to the skin. This is a plant that you may find growing abundantly in your garden but probably have been tossing it out with the weeds. I'm hoping to convince you that this is a plant that you need to allow to flourish and take advantage of because it has so many useful and fun attributes!

This plant produces small green fruit often referred to as "peas". They are delicious and very easy to gather. They can be eaten raw or cooked like any other vegetable. They also have another very useful function which is that is produces an extremely mucilaginous water that can be used to create a stiff foam much like whipped egg white produces. Euell Gibbons describes this process in his book Stalking the Healthful Herbs. In this book he goes into detail about creating a may apple chiffon pie but it can be done with any fruit, wild or domestic.

To get this liquid, gather a  cup of the mallow fruits. Boil them with 3 cups of water for 20 minutes. Strain out the fruit (but definitely eat the fruit - they are delicious!) and allow the water to cool. To speed up the process, you can put the water in the frig for 20 minutes.

While that cools, get your fruit ready. Put 4-6 cups of your fruit (I love blueberries, raspberries and apples) in a pot on the stove under a low simmer. Add one cup of water and the amount of sugar you would like to sweeten it with. Euell adds one cup which I think is way too much. I'd go with 1/3 cup. You can also add lemon zest, ginger  root, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove depending if you like those flavors. Add 1-2 tablespoons of corn starch or arrowroot powder as a thickener. Stir frequently until it is thick like pudding. Take off heat and let cool. It will continue to thicken.

Now let's get to the mallow part. To help whip up the mallow, take one egg white and put it in a mixer. It won't be long before it starts to whip up. When it does, slowly add your mallow liquid and it will continue to froth. When it is a thick, frothy mixer, fold it into the fruit mixer and dump all of it into a graham cracker crust. Put in the frig to set. When the whole thing has chilled, it is ready to eat!!

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