Mastic

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Mastic is a spice that comes from the mastic plant on the Island of Chios in Greece. Mastic is a protected product. Tears of mastic come from this mastic plant and were used as one of the original chewing gums, hence the name as in to masticate or chew.

Mastic is chewy in a crunchy rather than chewy gum way. Mastic has a pine-like aroma and a cleansing taste akin to furniture polish which is strangely pleasing.

In cooking, mastic's main use is as a thickener in bakery, puddings and sweets. Mastic works well with orange flower water and rose water in milk-based puddings, in pastries and Turkish delight - rahat lokum. Mastic is used to flavour the Chios liqueur mastica and the Turkish fire-water raki.

Traditionally, mastic is made from a straggly Mediterranean bush called lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus). When slashed, this bush produces a clear, gummy substance, which is a sticky resin. It has a strange aromatic smell.

Other Languages

Language Mastic
French Mastic
German Mastix
Italian Mastice, Lentischio
Spanish Almáciga, Mastice, Lentisco

Further Reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN: 9780778804932.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN: 9781465435989.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.