We’re always for looking for new ways to step up our kitchen game. New flavors are welcome in the hands of our Caputo’s team. In this case, the flavor is new to us, but not necessarily to new to Greek culinary enthusiasts. Friends, meet Chios Mastica.
On one particular Greek island just south of Lesvos and nearer to mainland Turkey than mainland Greece, there is one particular tree grown for one particular sap. The island of Chios is known for the most flavorful sap harvested from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). A close cousin of the pistachios we regularly eat, mastic is grown for the sap and is dried out to produce chewing gum, a distilled spirit, and the pure dried teardrops of sap. Bark is cut early in the morning and revisited later in the afternoon to collect the seeping, sticky sap. In the kitchen, mastica is finely ground and added to breads, pastries, and ice cream for its pine-y flavor and bright aroma. Mastica is exported to Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon for use in jams, meat marinades, and even coffee.
Think of your favorite breads and pastries that rely on typical baking spices like clove, cinnamon, and allspice and then imagine incorporating one more layer to that recipe that complements those warm spice notes, but also offers a brighter, more green aroma. We get both increased depth of flavor and, for me, an aroma reminiscent of the first days of having a fresh Christmas tree at home.
We’re just scratching the surface of the endless possibilities mastica has to offer. Stay tuned for recipes and uses are we dive even deeper into this new pool of tasty obsession.