Can You Freeze-Dry Marshmallows?

Can You Freeze-Dry Marshmallows

There’s nothing quite like gathering around a campfire at the end of a long day in the great outdoors. As the sun dips low in the sky and shadows begin to stretch across the landscape, my friends and I always look forward to those simple pleasures that make the wilderness feel like home – a hot meal cooking over the flames, a favorite beverage shared among companions, and of course, the sweet, melty satisfaction of a gooey marshmallow roasted to golden brown perfection.

For as long as I can remember, marshmallows have been an iconic part of camping traditions. Maybe it stems from childhood memories of making s’mores under the stars with my family. Or perhaps it’s just the cozy feeling of comfort food when nightfall brings a chill to the air. Whatever the reason, I never feel truly settled into a night in the woods without those puffy puffs of sugar on a stick extending out over the campfire.

Lately though, the marshmallow enthusiast in me has been wondering – is there a way to enjoy these treats outside of a campsite setting? What if you wanted a lightweight, portable version for backpacking trips further into the backcountry? That’s what sparked the idea to experiment with freeze drying marshmallows. By removing moisture but keeping their fluffy texture intact, maybe they could transform into an easy hiking snack. It was time to put the process to the test and see if these classics of the campfire could conquer the trail too.

Preparing the Marshmallows

The first step was selecting the proper marshmallows for freeze drying. Knowing they would be exposed to heat and vacuum pressure, I opted for a basic variety without artificial dyes, flavors or preservatives – just sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and vanilla. Brand names like Jet-Puffed or Marsh Mallons were suitable choices.

Once my marshmallows were gathered, it was time for prep work. Carefully unwrapping each giant puff, I used a serrated knife to cut them into quarters. This produced thin, evenly-sized pieces that would dry efficiently without getting too small or fine. After each marshmallow met its trim fate, I arranged the fluffy segments in a single layer on a large parchment-lined baking sheet.

Here, layout is important. The marshmallows couldn’t touch or overlap, as that could cause sticking or uneven drying. Leaving a bit of space around each one allowed for air circulation during the process. Once the tray was filled but not crammed, I gave it all a once-over to ensure a nice orderly arrangement. Then it was time for an overnight deep freeze to properly chill the ingredients before their journey into the dryer.

Into the freezer they went, nestled safely amongst ice cubes and frozen veggies. About 12 hours later, I retrieved them, noticing the pieces were quite firm after their long slumber in sub-zero temps. Now frozen and facing the abyss of dry air, these marshmallows were officially committed to a whole new state of being. Little did they know the fluffy travels that awaited…

The freeze-drying process

With my marshmallow pieces frozen and ready, it was time to load them into my trusty freeze dryer. This home appliance uses low heat and high vacuum pressure to sublimate ice directly into water vapor, driving moisture from the food without damaging heat-sensitive components. After arranging the baking sheet of frozen marshmallows evenly on the drying tray, I sealed it up and started the whirring machine.

Over the next day, I periodically checked the progress through the viewing window. At first the marshmallows simply hardened further as remaining ice crystals evaporated away. But slowly, ever so slowly, their sizes reduced and color lightened as water left their puffy structures behind. Approximately 24 hours after launching the machine, the last frozen droplets fled the scene and a pile of perfectly dry, snow white marbittles (a portmanteau of marshmallow and brittle) remained.

During drying, it’s important to occasionally shake the basket, loosening pieces and fluffing up the batch for faster, more even water removal. I found my marshmallow quarters had become very lightweight and delicate, more akin to stiff foam than gelatinous snack. Their textures felt crisp yet fragile, retaining imprints of the parchment below. Clearly the process had transformed them from a recognizable culinary item into something foreign yet familiar. It was time to find out if I had succeeded beyond visuals alone.

Selecting a slightly hardened chip, I tentatively placed it in my mouth. Within seconds its texture bloomed as intended, gradually expanding its spongy contours against my tongue. The rehydrated marbittle dissolved smoothly just like a normal marshmallow. Success! My odd idea had paid off, resulting in freeze dried puffs that could puff once more with a touch of moisture.

The Results

Biting into that first rehydrated marbittle was beyond satisfying. There’s just something so nostalgic about the fluffy texture of a marshmallow, and getting that same sensation from my crunchy dried pieces was an exciting culinary triumph.

The finished freeze dried marshmallows maintained their volume remarkably well once rehydrated through chewing or with a touch of water. They plumped back up to just about the same size as the original fresh marshmallows. Better yet, the flavor was still there – that lovely subtle vanilla taste hadn’t diminished during the drying process.

Beyond just eating them one by one, I wanted to test using the marbittles in recipes too. Drop a handful into a mug of hot cocoa and watch them puff up like magic. Add them to rice or oatmeal for a sweet trailside surprise. Their dehydrated state made them wonderfully lightweight and portable for backpacking. No more squished bags of marshmallows taking up space in my pack!

The marbittles also store exceptionally well. Kept in an airtight container, they maintained their texture and taste for several weeks on my kitchen counter. I can only imagine their shelf life would be even better long term if sealed and stashed on the trail. Between their preservation and flavor bloom qualities, freeze dried marshmallows might just become a new backpacking staple.

Overall I was thrilled by how my experiment paid off. With their versatility and backcountry potential, it’s safe to say these marbittles have earnt themselves a permanent home in my snack kit from now on. Next camping trip, the marshmallow traditions continue – only this time with an extra dose of whimsy from the wild world of lightweight, lip-smacking marbittles!


Here are some FAQs about freeze drying marshmallows:

Do I need a special freeze dryer machine?

A home counter-top freeze dryer works great, but you can also do it with your regular food dehydrator on very low heat for 48-72 hours. Just make sure to freeze the marshmallows first to prepare them.

Can I use any type of marshmallow?

Stick to plain, basic marshmallows without extra ingredients like colors, flavors or preservatives. Those can cause issues during drying. Mini marshmallows may work too.

How do I store freeze dried marshmallows?

Keep them in an airtight container or ziplock bag at room temperature for 6 months or longer. For long term storage, freeze for up to a year. They’ll stay good in your pack or pantry!

Do they rehydrate fully?

Yes, freeze dried marshmallows will puff right back up when chewed or dipped in water! Some may get stickier than originals depending on your dryer.

Any tips for drying evenly?

Cut marshmallows thin, freeze solid, and leave space between pieces for airflow during drying. Shake basket periodically to loosen and promote even drying.

Can kids make them?

Absolutely! With adult supervision while using knives or dryers, kids will love helping prep and seeing the magic of marbittles (my portmanteau name for them).

What if my marshmallows get too hard after drying?

If they seem very crispy and don’t want to rehydrate, try grinding them into a powder first before adding water. The smaller surface area will help them puff up faster.

How do I store marbittles for backpacking?

Heavy-duty ziplock bags or mylar bags keep them perfectly crisp. For longer term storage, vacuum sealing extends shelf life tremendously with no loss of texture.

What’s the best way to rehydrate marbittles on the trail?

Just add a few pieces to your morning oats or hot drink. For a quick snack, drop a marbittle into your mouth and let saliva do the plumping work. Within minutes it will puff up.

Can I freeze dry other campfire favorites?

Definitely! Try it with mini peanut butter cups, cookies or chocolate chips. Fruit like berries also works well. Experiment with your trailside tastes.

How many calories do freeze dried marshmallows have?

Great question. Since almost all the natural sugar and moisture is removed through freeze drying, marbittles have about 25 calories each versus the 35-40 calories in a standard fresh marshmallow.


Looking back on my marbittle adventure, I’m amazed at how successful this odd idea turned out to be. Who would have thought freezing and vacuum drying puffy marshmallows could result in such a fun and practical hiking treat? The transformation from gelatinous campfire confection to crisp yet plumping backpacking snack far exceeded my expectations.

It just goes to show that getting creative in the kitchen, especially with classics like marshmallows, can lead to delightful discoveries. I’m already dreaming up new ways to enjoy marbittles – maybe coating them in chocolate or sprinkles, adding them to granola or energy bites. The possibilities for on-the-go snacks and trailside desserts are endless!

For anyone else with a sweet tooth and spirit of experimentation, I highly recommend giving freeze dried marshmallows a try. It’s a simple process that requires just a few common kitchen tools. Having these lightweight treats can really take camp cooking and backcountry baking to new heights. Plus they make a fun stocking stuffer for the outdoorsy folks in your life.

Most importantly, I hope sharing my marbittle adventure provides a little inspiration to seek new adventures, both in the kitchen and beyond. Getting out into nature is what it’s all about, and these crispy gems are now ready to join me on many future wanderings under open skies. Until next time, happy trails and happy snacking – see you at the campfire!

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