I was stunned yesterday; I was at the Middle-Eastern store and I was buying a bunch of mastic bags; the young man at the cash register said: ” Excuse me ma’am, but can you tell me what this is for?”.
So, I spent a FEW MINUTES explaining what the mastic or miskeh was, all the while thinking ” I can’t believe he works here, and he does not know what miskeh is.
Anyway, what is mastic?
Mastic aka miskeh is the resin of a special tree found in one place: The island of Chios in Greece.
How is it used?
It is added to certain dishes as a flavor additive and to things like ice-cream to add a rubbery texture as well as flavor. In the Lebanese kitchens it is added to custards, jams and puddings, like muhallabieh or ashtalieh. It is added to breads, like holy breads. It is added in the marinade of shawarma.
Mastic is also used in neighboring countries, like Greece or Turkey. If you are interested in other uses for mastic, check out Peter‘s site, he has a lot of main dishes and pastries with mastic.
Where does one buy it?
I would recommend only buying the package with the Greek label. I have tried mastic from other sources and the quality is poor.
What kind of flavor does it impart?
I would describe it as a resinous flavor with a strong scent.
How does one use it?
You take a few pebbles and grind them in a mortar with some sugar or salt in order to get a powder. If you add it to a pudding mixture it needs to be in powder form or it won’t dissolve. You can do what Peter does, which is to freeze it for half an hour and place it between plastic wrap and crush it with a rolling pin.
People either love it or hate it. I Love it. I use it every day. I chew it.
When I was a kid, a couple of ladies taught me how to make gum out of it. Click here for the method.
For more information on mastic, click here.
Apparently, it is supposed to have health benefits as well.