In this article, we’ll be hopping over to the Greek island of Chios to learn more about the mastic. A magical superfood that’s been cultivated and used as an ingredient in greek food for millennia. It doesn’t stop there. We’ll also be a fantastic mastic kaimaki ice cream recipe for you try. Shared with us by our friends at the greek food network, Zorbabook.
What is Mastic?
Mastic is an aromatic resin cultivated from small shrub-like trees (Pistacia lentiscus) native to the Greek island of Chios. For thousands of years, locals here have harvested this and used it in medicines, cosmetics and most importantly, food. With the greek superfood even getting a mention from Hippocampus himself. Today, mastic cultivation on the island is solely controlled by the Chios Gum Mastic Growers Association (CGMGA). With
How is Mastic Extracted?
- Between August and September, farmers start off by making cuts in the trunks and branches of the mastic trees. This is done to release the aromatic resin from within, which initially appears to hang off the trees resembling a water droplet. Hence the nickname the ‘tears of Chios’.
- After around two weeks, the tears crystalise and fall off the trees on the sandy ground below. Farmers then scoop up this sand, wash it with mineral water and spend the winter separating the mastic tears from the dirt. This is all done by hand with no machinery used.
- Once ready, the mastic tears are shipped across the world
Traditional Kaimaki Ice Cream Recipe
This traditional egg-free greek style ice cream that’s has been eaten for centuries. Both on its own or with baklava and kataifi based sweet treats. What makes it unique is its stringy texture that comes from the addition of Salep. A powder that comes from the roots of the orchid plant, that’s used as a powerful thickening agent.
- 3 cups kaimaki or heavy cream
- 3 cups full-fat milk
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp mastic powder
- 3 tsp salepi (sahlab)
- Dilute salep in ½ cup of milk.
- Heat the remaining milk until warm, then add some diluted salep & mastic powder.
- Stir this mixture until it thickens. After this, add the heavy cream and remaining sugar.
- Stir continuously and simmer for 20-25 min.
- Pour the cream in a bowl, let it cool and place in the freezer. Every 2 hours stir the cream and repeat 2-3 times. Keep in the fridge until served.
- Serve with syrup (sour cherry ideal) and pistachios!
This is the first article as part of the My Greek Kitchen series in collaboration with our friends at Zorbabook, the greek food network. Over the next few months, we’ll be going on a journey across the country to uncover the very best in local greek food culture. So stay tuned, we’ve got more magnificent foods and recipes on the way/