Mastic (Greek: Μαστίχα) is a resin obtained from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). In pharmacies and nature shops, it is called “Arabic gum” and “Yemen gum”. In Greece, it is known as the “tears of Chios,” being traditionally produced on that Greek island, and, like other natural resins, is produced in “tears” or droplets.
Originally a liquid, mastic is sun-dried into drops of hard brittle translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum. The flavour is bitter at first, but after some chewing, it releases a refreshing, slightly pine or cedar-like flavour.
One of the earliest uses of mastic was as chewing gum; hence, the name.
In Greece Mastic is used:
In mastic liqueurs such as Mastiha
In a spoon sweet known as “vaníllia”
In beverages, chewing gum, sweets, desserts, and breads
It is also used to stabilize Turkish delight or mastic-gum ice cream
In desserts, as an ingredient of jam or cakes, mastic replaces cornstarch and gelatine.
The Chios mastic, combined with sugar, gave birth to the spoon sweet – mastic, a different and more intensely flavoured form of vanilla. This is usually served as a spoonful of sweet on a table spoon dropped into a tall glass of ice-cold water and popularly called “vanilla hypovrychio”, a “vanilla submarine”. The mastic sweet is very popular for its distinct taste, its culinary particularity as well as its vast medical purposes.
In Greece is also popular Mastiha Chiou (or Chios Mastiha) which is a brandy-based liqueur, seasoned with the mastic oil. Mastiha produced on the island of Chios has a protected designation of origin in the European Union.
Mastic Gum Health Benefits:
Natural remedy for: Bacterial infections, fungal infections, heartburn, high cholesterol, indigestion, inflammatory bowel disease, respiratory problems, ulcers, helps fight bad breath, stimulates circulation, possesses antioxidant, anti inflammatory, antibacterial and liver protecting properties, prevents cavities and provides oral and dental health.
Mastic oil has traditionally been used to freshen the breath, soothe tired and sore muscles, clear the sinuses, cleanse the lymphatic system, calm and reduce haemorrhoids, eliminate the appearance of varicose veins, treat wounds and boils, calm whooping cough, fight harmful bacteria in the body, and eliminate parasites and lice.