What You Need to Know About Greek Mastika
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Mastika is a liqueur that is well-known in Greece but isn’t often found outside of the country. It has a unique flavor, both sweet and with a slight tinge of pine notes. It is a great liqueur for sipping and it also tastes great with Greek food, especially those foods that have seen the grill. It is a Greek liqueur that contains mastic, a resin that comes from the mastic tree.
Mastic is also known to have healing and medicinal properties. Ancient Greeks used mastic as a cure for upset stomaches and bad breath. Romans used mastic as toothpicks, which helped to also whiten their teeth. Today, mastic is used to heal skin wounds, as an antiseptic, in dental fillings, and much more. However, it is known mostly as an enjoyable beverage to drink.
Here’s what you should know about mastika Greek liqueur:
History of Mastika
Mastika originated on the Greek island of Chios where the mastic trees grow. Although this type of tree grows throughout the Mediterranean, it is the ones found on Chios that produce the wonderful sap made to make the liqueur. The mastic trees have had a place in Greek history for a long time. They are a symbol of the island of Chios and experienced the conquest by the Romans, Byzantines, Genoese, and the Ottomans.
The mastic tree was exported from Chios during Roman rule. During the 14th century, the Genoese built fortified medieval mastohohoria, also known as mastic villages. The villages already existed, but the Genoese created the form they are seen in today. The Genoese fortified the village in an attempt to exploit the mastic tree crop. Raids by pirates were common during the time, so these fortified villages were built away from the sea to protect them and their inhabitants. In addition to the fortification, the streets were created in confusing labyrinth patterns in order to confuse intruders and protect the villages.
How Mastika is Made
Producers of mastika continue to make the drink using traditional methods and procedures beginning with the sap which is bled from the bark of the trees. The mastic tree is pruned at the bottom to allow access for when the resin that drops to the ground is collected. The resin is covered with calcium carbonate powder to protect it from debris and makes the mastic easier to collect after dried. The resin crystallizes into hard pieces which are powdered or packaged as is. The mastic crystals are distilled and then added to pure alcohol and sugar in order to produce the liqueur.
Best Way to Drink Mastika
Mastika liqueur is usually drunk at the end of a meal. It is enjoyed cold and neat. It is thought that mastika aids in digestion. Mastika is a sweet liqueur that has a flavor resembling herbs and pine. This liqueur can also be used to make a variety of delicious cocktails. Mastika contains greater than 15% alcohol, usually between 20 and 30%. Mastika comes in two types. One type is Chios Mastika, which is brandy-based and the other is more like ouzo.
If you’re looking for a unique liqueur, you will want to try mastika. This liqueur is special because it is scarce as the mastic tree where the sap comes from only grows on the island of Chios in Greece.
Categorized in: Greek Cooking
This post was written by Greek Boston