What flavor is mastic comparable to?

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drbabs
drbabs October 4, 2010

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.com/Spices/mastic.html

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cheese1227
cheese1227 October 4, 2010

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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mrslarkin
mrslarkin October 4, 2010

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.com/2009/05/mastic-ice-cream.html

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pierino
pierino October 4, 2010

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 Hesser October 4, 2010

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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thirschfeld
thirschfeld October 4, 2010

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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arcane54
arcane54 December 15, 2014

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...

thirschfeld
thirschfeld October 4, 2010

Of course Dutch licorice might be made from it too

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aargersi
aargersi October 4, 2010

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 October 4, 2010

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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Savorykitchen
Savorykitchen October 5, 2010

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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caninechef
caninechef December 14, 2016

Pistacia Lentiscus (Mastic) Gum, along with several other derivatives from the same species, is indeed listed as a cosmetic ingredient. I just had to look it up.

greekgoddess
greekgoddess July 29, 2011

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
Sam1148 July 29, 2011

Kiwi Shoe Polish?

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Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser July 30, 2011

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

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Rose Marie Nichols McGee

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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Mimi Hill
Mimi Hill December 15, 2014

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.

Mimi Hill
Mimi Hill December 1, 2014

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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John Lyall
John Lyall December 15, 2014

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

Rose Marie Nichols McGee
Rose Marie Nichols McGee December 15, 2014

A Greek grocery will have it.

Mimi Hill
Mimi Hill December 15, 2014

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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ChezHenry
ChezHenry December 15, 2014

Kalyustans.

Mimi Hill
Mimi Hill December 15, 2014

Oops that carries it in "ground" form?

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Rose Marie Nichols McGee
Rose Marie Nichols McGee December 15, 2014

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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Mimi Hill
Mimi Hill December 16, 2014

Thank you, Rose.

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