Recipes and Cooking with Mastic: Cook Like a Greek!
Of all the exotic aromatic spices in the world, there is nothing like the Chios Mastic, the resin-tear that drips from the Pistacia lentiscus tree. At harvest time, the mastic is allowed to drip from the trunk and branches, then collected, sorted, purified and exported around the world.
A brief word by way of introduction: Mastic gum
Chios Mastic (gum) is known to most of the world as chewing gum, a unique PDO product whose home is only on the Greek island of Chios in the Eastern Aegean Sea.
Since antiquity, mastic has been renowned for its therapeutic properties and also, of course, as a spice that has been used for hundreds of years, but also finds its use in modern cuisine.
In traditional Greek cuisine, mastic is a subtle, mysterious flavouring for pastries, creamy desserts, puddings and ice cream. It has also been used for a very long time to flavour distilled alcoholic beverages.
In contemporary Greek cuisine, it is an ingredient that has captured the imagination of chefs in a big way, especially as an accompaniment for:
- tomato sauces
- poultry, lamb and pork
The mastic taste is prominent in wine sauces paired with chocolate, lemon, other citrus fruits, berries, etc.
Mastic is suitable as a flavouring that is extremely versatile, unusual and exotic.
Recipes require different mastic
Chios Mastic is sold in many different forms. If you want to use it as a spice, it's probably best to buy crystals, which retain their flavor like all other spices, and grind them as needed.
Mastic can also be bought already crushed into a fine powder, which can be freshly ground in equal quantities. This product is usually mixed with malt dextrin (in a combination of 60% mastic - 40% malt dextrin). This combination is suitable for baking.
Mastic powder, whether freshly ground or commercially produced, must be used with care as it is very strong in flavour.
Essential mastic oil
There is also an essential oil of mastic that is extremely effective. A few drops are enough to flavour food and drinks.
There is also distilled mastic water, which is similar to rose and orange blossom water, but which has a much milder taste than whole crystals, powder or essential oil.
Another option is mastic-flavoured spirits, which can be used in cooking and baking as well as in the production of other alcoholic beverages.