MASTIC (IN GREEK : MASTIHA)
Mastic is a unique product which is produced exclusively in the southern part of Chios in the area of Mastichochoria (Mastic villages) that they are named after mastic.
Mastic is the product of the plant “schinos” which grows only in southern Chios and its cultivation is directly connected to the history of the island.
Although its cultivation and commercial use started at least from the Hellenistic period, it was systematized in the 14th century by Jenovese while also the Ottomans later, recognized its value demanding taxes paid in amount of mastic, and offered the island to the mother of sultan because she liked mastic. In modern times was founded the ‘Chios gum mastic growers association’ helping to the flourish of production.
The production of mastic follows almost the same way from antiquity till today. The period of cultivation starts from July ending in October. Primarily the area around the tree is totally cleaned and covered by a kind of white soil (calcium carbonate powder) which makes collecting and cleaning easier and after comes the “kentima”, horizontal or diagonal cuts on the rind of the tree. From these cuts comes out the liquid resin which will be solidified some days after and offer us big (pittes) or smaller (psilo) pieces of mastic. The last stage of process is the cleaning of mastic from soil and leaves during winter period.
Use and Products
From antiquity mastic was used either as chewing gum or also in cooking and pastry making. In modern times, since 1957 when the first chewing gum factory was established until today there has been a real revolution in the production of mastic products in various sector as:
- medical/pharmaceutical (action against stomach ulcer, assimilable stitches, toothpaste)
- aesthetics (cosmetics)
- pastry making