Mastic is originally from the island of Chios in Greece and is produced by the crystallized sap of the pistacia lentiscus. Its bark is cut and drops of sap fall and dry before being harvested. They are nicknamed “tears of Chios”!
As it is very fragrant, a small amount can give enough aroma for about 4 cups of preparation.
Mastic can be bought in small white or light yellow crystals. It is then reduced to a powder using a mortar or a blender preferably with a little sugar to prevent it from becoming sticky. It actually works even better if the mastic is placed in the freezer for half an hour beforehand.
For information, there is a tendency to confuse mastic and gum arabic, which itself comes from the acacia tree, is tasteless and odorless and is used primarily as a food thickener.
What are the virtues of mastic?
Mastic has a number therapeutic virtues: it is antibacterial and antiseptic. It is recommended against diabetes and cholesterol. It also helps with digestion, strengthens the gums, heals burns. It was also used in ancient times as chewing gum.
Where can you find mastic?
In the US, you will find mastic at Middle Eastern markets or on websites like Amazon.