The mastic trees grown in valleys and in mountainous areas, since the rocky soil favors their development. Plant in series and their ends are touching each other. Nowadays mastic trees are covering 20,000 acres of land, ie 12% of the arable land. The number of families involved in the mastic cultivation amounts to 4500 thousand.
The multiplication of mastic trees is done exclusively by cuttings. For culture is usually selected male trees (karposkina). The cuttings are planted in February and March to a depth of 40 cm. For faster results in recent years are used rooting injections. When the mastic tree reaches the age of 3 years, begins the pruning which must be repeated every year. Young plants also should be watered for 2-3 early years. Oldest trees do not need watering, because they have high resistance to drought. Unlike the high humidity negatively affects the quality of mastic. The mastic trees are quite hardy plants and so are no easily affected by diseases. However, there are diseases for which the best known is a type of fungus (tinder) of the genus Polyporus, as well another type of fungus Eutyra Armeniaca. The mastic trees are also affected by various “grainy” lice (coccidae).
In order to make embroidery and harvesting of mastic is necessary to make some preliminary tasks. Initially you need to purify the soil under the plant so that will be easy to collect the mastic that will be dropped. This process begins in late June and is done with various tools, such as shovels and trowels. Then cleaning up by wiping the area with either common or homemade cleaner. Finally the area under the tree is covered with white soil which is pressed to form a smooth surface. The white soil helps the gum to solidify. Moreover because the white soil composed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is inert and does not affect the properties and the purity of mastic. If the soil to be placed is not white soil, the mastic which will fall onto it loses its clarity and darkens. Is created the so-called “mavromasticho” which is not tradable. After completing these tasks, the mastic trees are ready for the “embroidery” which starts on July 15th.
he “embroidery” is made with special tools. The most common of these is the “embroidery stilettos”, a small sharp grooved tool at the edge. The embroidery is done in the bark of the tree, where using the embroidery stilettos are made small vertical depth incisions 4-5 mm and a length of 10 -15 mm. The higher age and size is the tree, the more embroiders may have. The embroidery is done in the morning hours. The mastic to clot needs 10-20 days. After the process of embroidery harvesting completes with the collection. When the mass is stabilized, begins the first gathering with a a specific tool “timitiri” or “kamotiri”. After the mastic which thickens in the trunk of the tree, called tears, and the mastic that hangs from the branches (fliskaria)is collected. The mastic is collected and placed in small and bigger baskets (Kafki – malathouni). Transported from the field with special baskets (kalathounia) and finally stored in wooden boxes in cool places. After the first embroidery and harvesting, follows the second embroidery and harvesting that begins after mid-September and ends on October 15. The young mastic trees have no great performance. That is why embroidery should be done sparingly, as not to exhaust the tree. The maximum efficiency is when mastic tree has reached the age of 12-15 years.
The processing of mastic is done first by the producer. First is the cleaning of the mastic that starts with sifting, “tahtarisma”. This way they separate the leaves and the soil from the clean mastic. After finishing the screening, they are doing the mastic`s washing with plenty of soap and water. Finally is been lied in a closed and shaded area to dry. The last processing step of the mastic from the producer is the “sting”. The “sting” is the process whereby the grains of the mastic are cleaned with small knives in order to remove any impurities that have remained trapped after washing. After pinching the mastic goes through various sieves and classified according to its size. The commercial processing of mastic assumes the Chios Mastiha Growers Association, which repeats the above process in more detail.
The commercial grades of mastic are: The pie, fat and fine mastic. The by-products of mastic is dust and kazanomasticho. The kazanomasticho is used in the flavored beverages, mainly of ouzo.