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Toasting Marshmallows

June 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Cooking outdoors always involves toasting marshmallows. A bonfire on a summer night will just not be complete without having toasted marshmallows.

However, achieving perfectly toasted marshmallows can be quite a feat. Some people like toasted marshmallows which are lightly warmed, some like it golden brown, while some like it charred.

A properly toasted marshmallow goes through six phases to reach perfection. While the process itself is fairly quick, believe it or not, it is a fairly scientific process, which is outlined here:
1. When the marshmallow is placed on a stick it starts to swell. This swelling is caused by the heat in the marshmallow, which heats up the moisture contained within, making it larger.
2. The moisture contained inside the marshmallow bores little holes through it, in order to allow the steam to escape.
3. The moisture-free marshmallow is now a blob of sugar. The marshmallow is about to start burning at this moment, as the oxygen in the air around it makes a beeline to the surface of the marshmallow.
4. Oxygen from the surrounding air spreads to the outer area of the marshmallow. When it reaches the surface, the oxygen reacts with the carbon, making a blue flame. The correct terminology for this in ‘burning in the diffusion-limited’ mode.
5. Next, carbon dioxide is made by carbon atoms seizing oxygen atoms, which in turn produce first carbon monoxide and then carbon dioxide.
6. The final stage is called the Oxyinterruptus stage. This is what happens when you pull the marshmallow out of the fire, and interrupt the process of oxidization.

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