Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Chios Mastiha
What quantities of mastiha are produced every year?
The quantity of mastiha produced every year is particularly affected by weather conditions. Drought during winter but also summer raindrops may reduce production rates to a great extent. Production usually varies between 80 and 120 tons, but there have been some cases where it reached 160 tons.
I would like to plant and cultivate mastic trees (lentisks). Where do I start from?
Assistance and expert advice on behalf of an agronomist, well acquainted with the product and its cultivation, is what you would need first and foremost. Mastic trees develop and produce mastiha only in the southern part of Chios; for that reason, choosing the appropriate field for planting those trees is another significant factor. Local producers systematically occupied with mastiha production usually give valuable advice thereon. In any case, Chios Mastiha Growers Association, through its specialized personnel, is willing to help you wherever is needed.
Why is mastiha produced only in the southern part of Chios?
That mechanism has not been fully explained. It surely has to do with the microclimate combined with pedological characteristics.
Is yellow mastiha safe?
Mastiha gradually loses its colour and after a long time it can appear yellowish or even yellow, something which is clearly due to its oxidation. Keeping it refrigerated (ideally) can slow down this process. But even when oxidized, it is absolutely safe despite being degraded. Chios Mastiha Growers Association, after many studies of stability control, recommends that mastiha should be consumed within 3 years from its production and should be stored in a cool place, protected from light.
Why is mastiha so expensive?
Mastiha is a very special and unique natural product, with remarkable qualities and multiple usefulness, produced exclusively in Chios. But the main reason for that is the cultivation process itself, an extremely demanding one, indeed. Each tree requires a lot and quite painstaking visits on behalf of the cultivator himself, in order to render a quantity of just 100-200 grams. Moreover, the procedure following mastiha’s production and gathering right from the tree and all the way through its delivery to the Cooperative demands hard work for the scrupulous cleaning of the product from all foreign materials (earth).
Can mastiha be produced elsewhere as well, apart from Southern Chios?
Mastic trees (lentisks) are found in many parts of the world and especially around the Mediterranean Basin. Some of those trees do produce a resin that looks like Chios mastiha, without having though either the beneficial properties characterizing Chios mastiha, or its aroma or its flavour. Therefore, Chios Mastiha produced out of that specific tree variety (var Chia) has been qualified as a PDO product (link to the relevant page).
I would like to buy some mastiha. Where can I find it?
Please contact us and we will indicate where and how you can find mastiha in your country.
Is it possible that an over-consumption of natural mastiha or ELMA chewing gum can have any side-effects?
No side-effect whatsoever has ever been reported either in historic or modern times, regarding natural mastiha’s consumption.
As for the chewing gum, because of the polyols (natural based sweeteners) contained therein, an over-consumption (over 25 tablets per day) may have a laxative effect on sensitive people.
How long does mastiha oil last?
Being an essential oil, mastiha oil demands to be stored in a cool place, protected from light, in order to avoid being degraded (oxidized). Of course, there is still no safety risk whatsoever for consummers’ health. Chios Mastiha Growers Association indicates on the packages that it is best consumed within 12 months. Stability studies are actually taking place and it is expected that very shortly we shall be able to extend that time limit.
How long does mastiha last?
Mastiha never expires. If appropriately stored (cool place, away from light), it can be perfectly conserved for many years. Chios Mastiha Growers Association indicates on the pagkages that it is best consumed within 3 years.
What is the difference in using Large, Medium and Small mastiha?
As a product and in quality terms, mastiha is the same regardless of its type. This categorization is purely done in terms of size. Small mastiha is the tear, as we call it, and is usually gathered right from the trunk. Larger types are gathered from the ground and are actually the result of many drops accumulated on the same spot that form a larger chunk. Large chunks envelop more aroma inside them, but smaller ones are clearer.
Which type of mastiha is best for chewing?
The best mastiha for chewing is a combination of hard and soft tears that prevent it from being sticky on the teeth and make it agreeably chewable. It needs patience, though, because at the beginning the sensation is unusual and the taste rather bitter.
Where can I find information leaflets for mastiha and its products?
You can find information leaflets in every MastihaShop or directly at Chios Mastiha Growers Association. Of course, we would advise you to go through our web pages where you can find quite a lot of useful information. More about that at the unit Publications.
In which recipes can I use mastiha?
People have used mastiha in cooking and baking for thousands of years. It should be used, though, in small quantities because otherwise the taste gets rather bitter. If you want to experiment with mastiha, you can find some interesting ideas at the unit Recipes.
What could I do to prevent mastiha powder from sticking?
It should be necessarily kept in a cool place, ideally in the fridge. It would also help to shake the container from time to time.
How do we pound mastiha crystals?
Natural mastiha crystals can be pounded in a mortar or spice grinder, but always with the addition of either a small quantity of salt (for salted recipes) or sugar (for sweets) so that they do not stick. Mastiha should be as frozen as possible.
Are there any unwanted effects of mastiha or mastiha oil on the skin?
Even though it has been proved that cosmetics containing mastiha or mastiha oil almost never cause skin irritation or other unwanted effects, it would be wise to do the following general and simple test in order to exclude the possibility of an allergic reaction or hypersensitivity reaction: Dissolve a drop of mastiha oil in a teaspoonful of vegetable oil and spread this mixture on the inner side of your elbow. Check your skin after 24 hours for any eventual irritations, redness or itch. In the event of such reactions, avoid preparing and using cosmetics that may contain mastiha or mastiha oil.
Is mastiha good for the stomach?
A series of researches that have taken place in various research centres have come to the conclusion that mastiha positively contributes to the prevention and cure of illnesses related to the peptic system (ulcer, dyspepsia, etc.). Consequently, chewing natural mastiha as well as swallowing mastiha powder is according to clinical studies a very good solution for all those confronted with stomach problems but also for those interested in keeping their peptic system healthy.
What else is mastiha good for?
Mastiha’s action has been registered for thousands of years in numerous medical and historic reports. Year by year, all its medicinal properties are progressively confirmed by modern & valid studies concerning its antimicrobial and antioxidant action, its action against cancerous cells, against Crohn`s disease, its contribution to oral hygiene, etc. More information at the unit Scientific Research.
I look after myself, I look after my health, how much mastiha do you recommend that I consume?
The recommended daily consumption starts from half teaspoonful of mastiha powder, preferably in the morning, with empty stomach. A larger quantity per day usually brings better and faster results.
How could we check that mastiha is not adulterated?
Purity test for mastiha: dissolve mastiha into acetone and add dense sulfuric acid. If the mixture gets reddish, then mastiha is adulterated. In any case, we unconditionally recommend that consumers buy only sealed packages bearing the trademark of Chios Mastiha Growers Association.
ELMA chewing gum has a strange texture and is rather hard, why is that?
Because it contains a significant amount of natural mastiha. The more natural a product is, the more difficult it is to standardize its characteristics. Consequently, natural mastiha has partly conveyed its behaviour (as to chewing) to the final product, in this case ELMA chewing gum.
ELMA chewing gum does not keep its flavour for long, why is that?
Because its flavour comes from the mastiha oil it contains (natural mastiha essential oil) which is unfortunately very volatile, meaning that it is easily evaporated. Duration of flavour in a chewing gum is a parametre that preoccupies all chewing gum industries. Unfortunately, a great majority of related products on the market contain almost exclusively artificial flavourings that have nothing to do with the source-product mentioned (peppermint, cinnamon, etc.). ELMA chewing gum contains 100% natural flavours. The choice is yours. We unconditionally recommend that you read carefully all the ingredients of the products you consume.