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What flavor is mastic comparable to?

asked by s_L_hanson about 6 years ago
24 answers 28791 views
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drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 6 years ago

I must confess that I had never heard of mastic before you posed this question, but I did some research for you and found that it tastes slightly piny and slightly like cedar--it was the original chewing gum. Here's an interesting link:
http://www.theepicentre...

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added about 6 years ago

I took a food writing class last year with AC Parket (http://www.food52.com/cooks...) and she wrote a wonderful essay on mastic based on its use in Greek cooking. Maybe if you contacted her, she would share it with you.

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added about 6 years ago

It has a pine tree aroma, apparently. I just read about mastic in the Greece issue of Saveur Magazine: http://www.saveur.com/article... And here is a recipe for Mastic Ice Cream from the blog Closet Cooking: http://closetcooking.blogspot...

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added about 6 years ago

It's a resin based ingredient with a flavor similar to licorice. Used in confections. I think they used it in Black Jack chewing gum (?).

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Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added about 6 years ago

Yes, pine and licorice -- I've used it. Very sticky! I made the mistake of putting it in my spice grinder, which now has a thin sticky layer of mastic on its interior.

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added about 6 years ago

I think of pine tar every time I have ever tasted it. We used to use it to seal cracks in basements. I also think there is a liquor where they sealed the barrels with it and it wound up being very pine tasting too and I don't think it was Sambucca but it might have been. Personally I would rather eat Dutch licorice and that is saying something.

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added almost 2 years ago

Is that ouzo you're referring to thirschfield? The first sip always tastes of varnish to me and after that, I cease to care. The only time I've danced on a table...

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added about 6 years ago

Of course Dutch licorice might be made from it too

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aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 6 years ago

We bought some of that licorice at the Amsterdam airport - and your right it DOES taste like construction material! Blech!!

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amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added about 6 years ago

Have never encountered mastic, but from the descriptions above, it sounds like it might be related to the popular Greek wine Retsina - which contains Pine resin. Retsina is a very acquired taste - I once spent a summer in Greece and despite multiple tries, was never able to get more than a sip down. Harsh stuff.

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added about 6 years ago

Mastic is a very unique product. It's sap that's harvested off the mastic tree - the harvest is amazing to see: the trees grow around the Mediterranean, but mastic is only harvested on the Greek island of Chios. Women (almost always) make small cuts in the bark and the sap weeps out and forms "tears" of resin. After they dry and harden, the tears are then removed from the trees.

It has antibacterial properties and is also used in some specialty cosmetics.

In cooking, I have had a hard time finding a perfect substitute. I usually go without it if I don't have any. If you do get your hands on some - it keeps forever, so buy a stash and keep it on hand for future uses.

It may taste piney, but it's actually in the same family as pistachio nut trees.

Retsina is a different beast - the wine is flavored with a pine resin. It's a vestige of an ancient solution to the problem of leaky barrels - wine barrels were sealed with pitch or resin in order to make them airtight. It also made the wine super piney. I will say, that it's not something that a lot of Greeks like to drink, it's more the link to tradition that keeps it around.

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added over 5 years ago

Thank you Savorykitchen for that informative post! You can actually find Mastic (Chios Mastiha) at www.mastihashopny.com. There is a boutique in New York City that is the official shop of the Cooperative of Growers from the island of Chios. They carry all things Chios Mastiha from culinary products, to healthcare as Mastic is antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory too! Check out the website as there is also a recipe section :)

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 years ago

Kiwi Shoe Polish?

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Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added over 5 years ago

Apologies for the spam -- working to fix it now.

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added over 3 years ago

I store mine in the freezer. A couple whacks and it breaks into a fairly fine powder and easy to use.

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added almost 2 years ago

I just read this note and that is a good idea. I'll try it. I am guessing from my search that it doesn't come ground and one had to do so. The specific recipe I was using called for "ground" but didn't state whether it came that way or was ground by the creator of the recipe.

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added about 2 years ago

No answer but a question. Where can I purchase ground mastic (preferably on line or in NYC as my community doesn't have any)?

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added almost 2 years ago

I just ordered some from Amazon.com, lots of choices and not that bad a price.

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added almost 2 years ago

A Greek grocery will have it.

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added almost 2 years ago

I also have been doing some research and found the answer to my question but thank you all for your answers. I do have another snag though. In my search for some "ground" mastic I have come up empty handed. I checked Amazon and found other forms but in my searching found a couple of referrences that using it in it's resin form can be difficult as it leaves a gummy residue. Does anyone know of a specific store in NYC that carries it?

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added almost 2 years ago

Kalyustans.

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added almost 2 years ago

Oops that carries it in "ground" form?

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added almost 2 years ago

A Greek grocery store should have it, ask for mastic or "masticha". I keep mine in the freezer so it shatters easily when I use it. It's a bit resinous. I've used it in ice cream and bread.

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added almost 2 years ago

Thank you, Rose.