Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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mastic an aromatic resin obtained from plants of the genus Pistacia. The best known is P. lentiscus, common on Mediterranean hillsides from Syria to Spain, and the source of the Chios mastic of commerce. Bombay mastic comes from P. cabulica, the terebinth pistachio tree.

When the stems of the bushes are wounded, even slightly, mastic exudes as a clear sticky substance. In cultivation, which takes place particularly in the Aegean island of Chios, vertical incisions are made in the stems during the summer, and the oval ‘tears’ of dried resin, ranging in size from 0.5 to 2 cm (0.25–0.75"), are collected shortly afterwards. The best grade is taken directly from the plant; a second grade is scraped from flagstones arranged around its base.