My favorite campfire was the very first one I had with my family the first time we ever went camping. My 3-year-old thought roasting marshmallows over an open fire was the greatest thing in the world. Once she had her fill of marshmallows, it was a perfect time to cuddle with her dad and watch the fire until she fell asleep. Along with the obvious rules concerning open fires at campgrounds, back yards or even in the woods, young children should never be left unsupervised. When our family camps, we draw a circle in the dirt around the fire pit where no one is allowed to go. Any marshmallow roasting is done with long sticks and is watched carefully for “flare ups.” In my opinion, the perfect roasted marshmallow takes years and years of practice, along with bags and bags of research material. I encourage everyone at a campfire to practice roasting marshmallows until they are ready for bed or about to pass out from all the sugar. With over twenty years of research, here are a few tips to help make marshmallow roasting worthy of becoming an Olympic event:
– Find a long dry stick. Never cut branches off trees. Look around the roots of trees. The best ones disguise themselves with a lot of little branches. These can be carefully removed by an adult with a sharp knife.
– The tip should come to a point to make placing the marshmallow onto the stick a smooth process.
– Never roast the marshmallow over a flame. For maximum roasting keep the marshmallow over the hot coals. This allows you to use a steady heat source. Flames are inconsistent.
– Continuously rotate the stick using one of two methods: Using only one hand, slowly rotate your wrist to left. Once you’ve reached the farthest point of rotation immediately begin a slow rotation to the right.
– The two-handed method involves using one hand as the “anchor” close to the middle of the stick and the other rotating the stick using the thumb, index and middle fingers. This motion is similar to using a screwdriver.
Variations of these techniques are also acceptable. The ideal marshmallow is one that has achieved a light darkening around the entire marshmallow except for the bottom. When removed from the campfire, the standard blow of approximately 3 seconds is used to remove any hot spots.
It should be warm when placed in the mouth. The texture should be crispy with the center being a gooey explosion of taste. The marshmallow should be removed from the stick before eaten.
Others prefer their marshmallows prepared differently including:
The Warmer: the marshmallow is placed near the fire for a very brief period, removed and quickly eaten.
The Tenderizer: the marshmallow is prepared exactly like the ideal roasted but is allowed to roast slightly longer. When removed from the campfire, the outer, crunchy part of the marshmallow is removed using the thumb and fore finger and eaten leaving the gooey center. The marshmallow is then returned to the campfire and roasted until another crunchy coat appears. Casual users of this technique can easily manage 2 roasts. More experienced roasters have been known to go as high as 4.
The Scorcher: the marshmallow is placed directly into the fire and allowed to burn. Once the entire marshmallow has been engulfed by the flame, the flame is quickly blown out and is quickly eaten.
Great care must be taken in looking after a fire pit. Never leave it unattended, especially when you decide to go to sleep. Pour a generous amount of water onto the flames and coals until there is nothing red. Stir up the coals using a long stick to make sure the fire is out. Sand will smother whatever is left.
Those fortunate enough to have a wood fireplace in their home can also enjoy the campfire feeling, but without the bugs. My family has spent a few winter evenings in front of our fireplace roasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate. It’s an ideal way to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Gas fireplaces are not recommended since they tend to give the marshmallows that “plastic log” taste.