Chios Mastiha is the name of a resinous sap produced from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus var. Chia) on the island of Chios. While the mastic tree grows throughout the Mediterranean region, only on Chios, and only on the southern part of the island, does it successfully produce the famous mastiha. Attempts to cultivate Mastiha elsewhere have failed. It is a natural, aromatic resin that falls on the ground in the shape of teardrops from scratches made on the surface of the tree trunk with sharp tools. UNESCO has included the know-how of Mastiha production on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Mastiha is by all definitions a super food. As a spice, its seductive aroma is pairs beautifully with everything from citrus to dark chocolate, from sweet white pastry cream to savory, rich white sauces, and with a range of other ingredients from tomatoes to greens. To use the crystals as a spice, you have to grind them in a mortar and pestle with either a bit of salt (for savory dishes) or sugar (for pastries). Mastiha makes an intriguing addition to breads as well.
Since antiquity, Chios Mastiha has been well known for its medicinal properties. More recently, laboratory research and clinical studies have been carried out by independent researchers in Greece and abroad, proving that Chios Mastiha is gifted with unique beneficial and therapeutic properties - thus confirming the historical record.
Scientific evidence has confirmed Mastiha’s beneficial action against disorders of the peptic system, its contribution to oral hygiene, its significant antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory activity, as well as its potent antioxidant properties and promotion of wound healing and skin regeneration.
Perhaps its most significant practical application is its use as a chewing gum for which it has been used since ancient times. Scientific studies have proven that it is beneficial for gum exercise, along with all its relevant, beneficial effects in dental health. Unlike ordinary chewing gums, it induces greater salivation and provides excellent freshness and cleanness. It has also been proven to relieve dry mouth, a disorder especially common among elderly persons. Furthermore, researchers have carried out numerous scientific and clinical studies regarding its action in decreasing microbial plaque formation and eliminating bacterial growth inside the oral cavity.
Mastiha must be ground to use in cooking, so you will need a mortar and pestle to grind these tears into a fine powder. Do not use a spice grinder because the resin in the tears will ruin it. Mastiha is a tremendously versatile flavoring that can be used in virtually anything including desserts, breads, salad dressings, and even main courses like fish or pasta. These tears can also be enjoyed as a chewing gum (no need to grind first) to promote oral health.
Asparagus Sautéed with Mastiha-Olive Oil
Red Onion-Petimezi Tart Tatin with Mastiha Whipped Feta
I purchased these for one of your recipes and now I can’t remember which…
Excellent quality and taste.
I haven’t had time to try it in my cooking, but tried chewing one piece to check the flavor profile. The slightly medicinal menthol mint flavor will be very refreshing once it weather here warms up. Looking forward to adding it to my flavorings for drinks and cooking/baking. In today’s enforced stay-cation, something new to try is amazing. Thank you.
This is a fantastic way to keep teeth and gums healthy.
Great Greek Tastes
Excellent--a little goes a long way and it really is the only ingredient that comes close to a true piney fragrance.