Photo: Wiki Images
This post is about the traditional Greek product Mastic. Mastic is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), which is traditionally produced on the Greek island of Chios . It is known as the "tears of Chios," as the resin is produced in "tears" or droplets. Although, initially in liquid form, they become drops of hard brittle translucent resin after drying in the sun. The resin softens, however, when chewed and becomes a bright white and opaque gum.
The word mastic itself, has the same root as the English word 'masticate' - to chew.
The tree is native to the Mediterranean region, but only the mastic trees of southern Chios "weep" the mastic resin when their bark is scored. The island's mastic production is controlled by a co-operative of medieval villages, collectively known as the 'Mastichochoria ' which are also located in the southern part of Chios. In addition to mastic, mastic oil is also produced. There is even a small Museum of Mastic in the village of Pyrgi.
Pistacia lentiscus shrub
Photo: Wiki Images
Mastic has been used as a medicine since antiquity and in the Middle East is still used in traditional folk medicine. In Ancient Greece it was given as a remedy for snakebite and has been referred to by great Greeks of the time - Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides mentions the healing properties of mastic in his book De Materia Medica and Hippocrates wrote that the mastic is good for prevention of digestive problems and colds.
Nowadays, mastic is used to prepare mastic liqueurs like Mastichato, a spoon sweet known as "vanilla", beverages, chewing gum, cakes, pastries, sweets, desserts, breads, and in cheese production. It is also a binding material or material preparation stabilizer for oriental sweets like "Turkish Delight" or mastic gum ice cream, and is suitable for preparing a pudding. In desserts, as an ingredient of jam or cakes, mastic is used to replace cornstarch and gelatin.