The Common Mallow – Malva sylvestris

The mallow is one the largest and perhaps one of the most useful wildflowers that can be found whilst out walking. Found all over the UK, in mainland Europe, North Africa, Asia and naturalized in parts of North America, Mexico and Australia the mallow can grow up to around a meter tall (if not larger). Almost all of the plant is edible, the immature seedpods can be eaten as a snack, the roots of the marsh mallow can be made into sweets, the common mallow into a tea (said to relieve painful urination) and the flowers of all mallows can make a decorative edible addition to a salad. The tree mallow and garden tree mallow have the added bonus of containing such soft leaves they can be used in an emergency if you’re caught out without any toilet paper!!

Hollyhock – a member of the mallow family.

In my opinion it is the leaves of the mallow that are the most important edible part of the plant. All types of mallow leaves are edible and can be used as a salad leaf but as they are mucous forming you may not want to add too many of them. This mucous forming quality makes them a very useful plant especially for vegans. Just lightly boiling a few leaves in a little water will result in a thick gooey green like liquid with very similar properties to egg white!

After extensive research (cracking two eggs in a measuring jug) I’ve calculated that two whole (medium sized) eggs are around 125-130ml in volume. To make an egg equivalent with mallow leaves boil them in more liquid than you need, as some of the water will evaporate. So for 130mls of mallow liquid I boil 4 large mallow leaves in 200-250mls of water. I’ve estimated that the yolk makes up around a third of the volume of an entire egg and the chart below shows the amounts of pre-boiled mallow liquid that can be substituted for egg or egg white in most recipes for cakes, batters, brownies, pancakes etc.

1 Whole egg = 62.5 to 65ml of Mallow liquid

2 Whole eggs = 125 to 130ml of Mallow liquid

1 Egg white = 42ml to 43ml of Mallow liquid

2 Egg whites = 83ml to 87ml of Mallow liquid

The common mallow does seem to be the best mallow to use but I have found hollyhock leaves will also work to some extent. To research this article I had the chore of making a number of different puddings and desserts and found they work well in pancakes and particularly well in chocolate brownies –

Vegan Chocolate Brownies

This recipe has been adapted from an American recipe so the ingredients are in volume rather that weight.

Ingredients –

100g, 3½ oz – Dark Chocolate

160ml, 2/3 Cup – Vegan Margarine (non vegans can use butter)

120ml, ½ Cup – Sugar (caster sugar is best)

8 Mallow leaves

240-250ml, 2 Cups – Water

300 ml, 1¼ Cup – Self-raising Flour

Optional seasonable ingredients

A Couple of handfuls of the following –

Chopped Strawberries – Wild or Cultivated

Cherries (Stoned) – Wild or Cultivated

Chopped Hazel/Cob nuts

Chopped Walnuts

Chopped Roasted Chestnuts


1. Place 8 mallow leaves in a pan of 250 ml boiling water, boil and stir for a couple of minutes

2. Break the chocolate into pieces, place in a heat proof bowl, melt with the margarine over the pan of boiling mallow leaves

3. Once melted dissolve the sugar in the margarine and chocolate mix

4. Take the mallow leaves (and melted chocolate etc) off the heat, remove the leaves (add them to the compost), measure out 125ml, ½ Cup of the mallow water

5. Add the chocolate mix to the flour and stir

6. Fold in the mallow liquid

Bake in an oven at 170oC for around 30 minutes

Article written by Dave Hamilton. Dave has now left Selfsufficientish but you can catch up with him on or on twitter @davewildish