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23
May

Well, following Charles Perry’s brilliant post about the use of mastic in savoury cooking, we had a discussion about where mastic was produced. I initially thought it came from other places than Chios. However, Magda corrected me and told me that the Pistacia lentiscus in the southern part of Chios were the only trees that produced mastic. So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw this packet of Turkish mastic at my favourite Lebanese shop in London, Zen.

mastic-turkish - copy

When I turned the packet over to see where the mastic was from, it said product of Turkey. I am puzzled and I wonder if any of you can shed light on this.

mastic - turkish copy


There is 12 comments on this post


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    This is what wikipedia has to say: “Within the European Union, mastic production in Chios is granted Protected Designation of Origin. The island’s mastic production is controlled by a co-operative of medieval villages, collectively known as the ‘Mastichochoria’ (????????????), which are also located in the southern part of Chios. There is even a small Museum of Mastic in the village of Pyrgi. Mastic is also produced on the Çe?me peninsula, on the Turkish coast across the Aegean from Chios.”


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    According to Wikipedia, “Mastic is also produced on the Çe?me peninsula, on the Turkish coast across the Aegean from Chios.”. Apparently the climactic conditions are identical, and there are even wild mastic trees. If that mastic is Turkish, it comes from Çe?me.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Ugh, sorry about that…the name of the place is Cesme, with cedillas under the C and the s.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    thanks so much elspeth and ove. silly, i had linked to the wikipedia entry in the first post but had missed the reference to cesme. will find out more from my turkish friends 🙂


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Hi Anissa, I come from Turkey and mastic is something you can buy in all supermarkets, spice shops etc. It is mainly used for milk desserts and some cookies/cakes, there’s also the mastic ice cream that is typical to Gaziantep in the south east. So far I thought it all comes from Chios (called Sakiz Adasi – Gum Island in Turkish :), never knew that it was also produced at our side.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Hi Anissa.
    Gama are one of our suppliers – so I asked them for you. Their mastic is from Chios: it is packed in Turkey, hence the confusion.
    Hope this helps.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    thanks sally. they should be more careful with the descriptions on the their packaging. it says product of turkey when it should say product of chios 🙂


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    They should indeed be careful with their packaging. Hmm, isn’t that illegal…?

    Ove, Mastichochoria means mastiha villages i.e. villages that produce mastiha.

    Anissa, mastiha lasts indefinitely. It never goes bad 🙂


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Pliny mentioned that products that the mastic tree is found in Chios, India and Arabia. Bellovacensis presented mastic as being produced in India as well (1st middle of the 13th century). Between the 12th and the 13th century, I. E. Beithar said that the best quality of mastic (mastaka) could be found in Chios, implying that mastic could also be found elsewhere (Argentis P.P. & S.P. Kyriakidis. 1946. Editors of Chios as described by Geographers and Travelers of the 8th until the 20th Century. [In Greek]).
    However, since mid 13th century, it could be seen from descriptions by travellers, such as R. Von Ems, that the exclusivity of mastic production in Chios was more widely known.
    Foreign writers mentioned the production of products similar to Chian mastic in Crete, Milos, Amorgos, Cyprus, in the costal
    areas of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in France, in Spain (Champagnac J.B.J. & M.M. Olivier. 1858. Le voyageur de la jeunesse dans les cinq parties du monde. Paris.), in Egypt, in Portugal, in the Canary islands and the coast of Morocco (Chambers, E. 1882. A dictionary of universal knowledge for the people, Volume VI, Chamber’s Encyclopedia London.)
    Could “ancient and medieval references to mastic may not distinguish between mastic for flavoring, mastic suitable for chewing and mastic for other uses, such as violin varnish” as Charles Perry implied? I am not really sure….
    The resin of pistacia lentiscus is used for flavoring, for chewing and in varnishes. From 15th to middle 20th century the most popular uses of Chian mastic itself was as a flavoring and a chewing treat but Europe consumed a large quantitiy of it for varnishes too. Pauli ,a German geographer (19th century), wrote that the most exclusive tear mastic was used in selected varnishes and marmalades.
    Yes, «mastic cultivation was previously done in Çe?me Peninsula but today is forgotten some reasons.» (http://www.gurbuz.org/ecologic-evaluation-of-pistacia-lentiscus-mastic-in-cesme-peninsula.html )
    But, was mastic cultivated in Cesme during Ottoman years? If not, why not?
    We all know that the mastic tree is a common species of Mediterranean evergreen. Does resin from pistacia lentiscus have the same quality like mastic produced from P. lentiscus variation Chia? While seeking the causes of the var. Chian cultivation’s exclusivity of the south Chios, it is worth noting an interesting scenario depicted by Zografos, D.L. (1924. The History of Greek Agriculture. v.3, (1823-1833, in Greek) He justifies cultivation of Chian mastic and the high quality of the product as the result of the underwater volcanoes presence and activity in the wider area of the island.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Ugh, sorry about the “Pliny mentioned that products that the mastic tree”. Well, Pliny mentioned that the mastic tree….


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    So, as I understand, mastic grows elsewhere too (I stand corrected) but the Chian mastic is of superior quality. OK.
    Mariana, thanks so much for all this information.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    hi there,

    I just saw a pingback on my site gurbuz.org.
    i just saw “mezdeki – cam sakizi” (correct word in turkish is “çam sak?z?”) text on your photo. cam sakizi grows all around Turkey but it’s not a big economic return for manufacturers.

    during ottoman years, cam sakizi was used for alternative medicine. especially for lung, tussis and also vocal chords.

    by the way, mastic and cam sakizi (galipot) are not same things. cam sakizi obtains from pinus (i don’t really know the exact name of it in botany). mastic obtains from terebinth tree.

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