Mastiha is a tear coming from trees found only in certain areas of the Greek island of Chios.
As resinous granules, it was the original chewing gum, and the name “mastiha” is the root word of “masticate,” meaning “to chew.”
Each year on the Greek island of Chios, locals gather the resin, or “tears,” of the Mastiha tree, a special kind of pistachio tree. Each tree produces less than 200 grams, on average, though only the more mature trees produce any at all. Since ancient times, the have Greeks realized both the therapeutic qualities, as well as the culinary uses of this rare herb. Though it is one of the oldest spices known to man, it is not commonly used (primarily due to its scarcity) and you will find its taste to be surprisingly unique. Mastiha looks like rock candy and has a distinctive taste and chewiness. It is a 100% Greek product, and as such is registered by the European Union as PDO (PGI) name.
Today, mastiha can still be found in the traditional Greek pantry. You will detect it within both the sweet, as well as the savory, dishes of Greek cuisine. The spice can flavor everything and anything, from breads and pastries, to tomato sauces and soups. Try a salad with mastiha vinaigrette, or tomato mastiha sauce on your pasta. Another “definite must” is mastiha ice cream, but it’s not easy to find outside of Greece. Use a pestle or a blender to ground the mastiha along with a pinch of sugar when you are using it in your sweet recipes, especially for the Greek Brioche named Tsoureki.
The incredible aroma of mastiha will make all the difference, and your brioche / tsoureki will have a distinctive taste and amazing smell.
See more recipes with mastiha: