Friday, January 8, 2016

Chios mastic, the amber of Greece (Chios mastic, Pistacia lentiscus var. chia)

mastic tree of Chios island, Greece
Chios mastic is an aromatic natural resin which is secreted from the lentisk plant (Pistacia lentiscus), widely known as mastic tree and it grows throughout the Mediterranean but only in Chios of Greece deigns to offer its divinely fragrant mastic tears.
Chios mastic is recognised for its intoxicated aroma and for its medicinal properties.
Its history dates back to the very distant past; we find reports about, in Pliny, Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Galen, even in Herodotus and it was a bone of contention since the Byzantine Period until the Turkish occupation, both for monopoly and the economic privileges which stemming from mastic.

The mastic tree is grown since the 3rd century while big role to thrive, played  the sunny weather and the limestone composition of the soil. 
mastic resin
The mastic collection begins after the 15th of August and we do it with the traditional way. We straighten the ground around the tree, with the tools you see in the photo below and we “rip” the body of the tree at specific points. From these points, mastic begins to flow and it gets stabilised after 15 days. Then we start collecting and we stop on September. We clean the mastic “tears” and it’s ready.
Chios mastic
Chios mastic is an important source of revenue for the island of Chios, that’s why people have made numerous efforts to plant this tree elsewhere, efforts which failed miserably.

It is the first natural chewing gum in the world, since ancient times, where mastic was used for cleaning and whitening teeth and refreshing breath. Because of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory action, mastic is beneficial for digestive problems, while it faces helicobacter pylori (responsible for gastric ulcer), but also helps in treating respiratorry problemsand fighting colds. 

In Greece we use mastic a lot, in cooking, pastry making and distillery. We love also to use it in cosmetology since, mastic faces skin conditions such as acne, because of it’s antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Chios mastic combats and neutralises free radicals, tones the collagen production, activities that make this natural treasure, the king of the anti-aging battle. We usually use mastic oil, mastic water and mastic powder.

Since 1997, Chios mastic has been granted “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO). 

recipes with Chios mastic

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