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Pistacia lentiscus

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pistacia lentiscus pistacia lentiscus

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Pistacia lentiscus is a shrub or tree dioecious, with separate male and female plants, evergreen from 1 to 5 m high, with a strong smell of resin, which grows in the dry and rocky areas in Mediterranean Europe. from Morocco and Iberian peninsula in the west through southern France and Turkey to Iraq and Iran in the east. It is also native to the Canary Islands. The word mastic derives either from the Greek verb mastichein ("to gnash the teeth", origin of the English word masticate) or massein ("to chew").
It resists heavy frosts and grows on all types of soils and can grow well in limestone areas and even salty or saline, this makes it more abundant near the sea. It is also found in woodlands, dehesas (almost deforested pasture areas), kermes oak wood, oaks wood, garrigue, maquis, hills, gorges, canyons and rocky hillsides of the entire Mediterranean area. It is a very typical species that grows in Mediterranean mixed communities of myrtle, Kermes oak, Mediterranean dwarf Palm, buckthorn, sarsaparilla, etc. and serves as protection and food for birds and other fauna in this ecosystem. It is a very hardy pioneer species dispersed by birds and abundant in dry Mediterranean. In appropriate areas, when allowed to grow freely and age, it often becomes a tree of up to 7 m. However, logging, grazing and fires often prevent its development. It has been introduced as an ornamental shrub in Mexico, where it has naturalized and is often seen primarily in suburban and semi-arid areas where summer rainfall climate contrary to the Mediterranean, where the species originates, doesn't hurt it.
The resin is collected by bleeding the trees from small cuts made in the bark of the main branches, and allowing the sap to drip onto the specially prepared ground below. The harvesting is done during the summer months between June and September. Mastic resin is a relatively expensive kind of spice that has been used principally as a chewing gum for at least 2,400 years. The flavour can be described as a strong, slightly smoky, resiny aroma and can be an acquired taste.
Some scholars identify the bakha mentioned in the Bible - as in the Valley of Baca of Psalm 84 - with the mastic plant. The word bakha appears to be derived from the Hebrew word for crying or weeping, and is thought to refer to the "tears" of resin secreted by the mastic plant, along with a sad weeping noise which occurs when the plant is walked on and branches are broken.
Mastic is known to have been popular in Roman times when children chewed it, and in Medieval times it was highly prized for the Sultan's harem both as a breath freshener and for cosmetics. It was the Sultan's privilege to chew mastic, and it was considered to have healing properties. The spice's use was widened when Chios became part of the Ottoman Empire, and it remains popular in North Africa and the Near East.
As a spice, it continues to be used in Greece to flavour spirits and liquors (such as Chios's native drinks of Mastichato and mastica), chewing gum, and a number of cakes, pastries, spoon sweets, and desserts. Sometimes it is even used in making cheese. Mastic resin is a key ingredient in Dondurma (Turkish ice cream) and Turkish puddings, giving those confections their unusual texture and bright whiteness. In Lebanon and Egypt the spice is used to flavour many dishes, ranging from soups to meats to desserts, while in Morocco smoke from the resin is used to flavour water. In Turkey mastic is used as a flavor of Turkish delight. Recently, a mastic flavoured fizzy drink has also been launched, called "Mast".
Mastic resin is also chewed as a gum to soothe the stomach. People in the Mediterranean region have used mastic as a medicine for gastrointestinal ailments for several thousand years. The first century Greek physician and botanist, Dioscorides, wrote about the medicinal properties of mastic in his classic treatise De Materia Medica ("About Medical Substances"). Some centuries later Markellos Empeirikos and Pavlos Eginitis also noticed the effect of mastic on the digestive system.

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Read 16044 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 06:26
45.00 HRK
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