In this week's edition of our ongoing series called: Ancient Ingredients, Modern Superpowers we'll be diving into the little known, but powerful ingredient, Mastiha. You might be surprised to learn that this tree unique to a small Greek island has health superpowers. Read on to discover the extraordinary powers of the superfoods of Greece & the Mediterranean for health, happiness and longevity.
Where does Greek Mastiha come from? Mastiha, or known as “mastic” in English, is the dried crystal resin that comes from the bark of the Mastic Tree. This tree is exclusively found on a small Greek island in the middle of the Aegean Sea called Chios. Although it seems quite obscure, Mastiha crystals have been seen as a superfood and herbal remedy since ancient times. The people of Chios have been using Mastiha to heal bodily issues, especially those related to the stomach, for thousands of years. It wasn’t until 1980 when it was studied by Arab scientists that it gained popularity outside of Greece.
What makes Greek Mastiha so special? Because Mastiha has been largely a secret superfood to much of the modern world, it’s seen as almost a magic healing ingredient today. But, back in the first century, the Greek doctor Dioscorides, wrote about it’s many powers - from stopping internal bleeding to cleaning our teeth. Among it’s many health benefits, Mastiha is extremely special because it is still only found on the island of Chios.
What are the health benefits? Mastiha has some of the most antiviral properties known to humans. It’s been proven to heal everything from stomach ulcers to glaucoma. Largely, Mastiha is best known for cleansing our bodies of a not-so-good bacteria called h.pylori, which is known to impact the stomach, intestines and the mouth.
How can I use it in my every day? The flavor of Mastiha can be polarizing as it tastes a bit like licorice. In our modern world, Mastiha is often developed into gum form. It's also often served as an after dinner sweet liquer since it's known to aid in digestion. Its powers have also even been applied to skincare products, which are scientifically proven to reduce inflammation and irritation. You can use it in your cooking, almost as you would an herb, after crushing it with a mortar and pestle. Since it has an earthy, vanilla-like flavor, it’s recommended to mix it into desserts (like our Chocolate Pots de Cream).
How do you use this ancient superfood in modern ways? Are there other Mediterranean superfoods you'd like us to cover? Respond to this note or tag us on Instagram @kosterina with your thoughts!
Peace, love & EVOO, Katerina
Olive Oil Sommelier, Katerina Mountanos, is the Founder & CEO of Kosterina. Katerina is very passionate about olive oil, the Mediterranean lifestyle and eating for health and longevity.
Some of my favorite moments in life are the times after a meal where conversations continue and a second drink is served. I often feel a ping of disappointment in that moment where someone gets up and starts to pick up the dishes. I try not to be that person.