Kourmades are also very famous in Mesta. They are olives which ripen on the tree because of a particular kind of fungus which thrives in the area. They can be eaten without any further elaboration.
Since 1997, Chios Mastiha has been designated as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Product under the European Union's 123/1997 Regulation (L0224 / 24-1-97) and has been registered with the relevant Community list of PDO products.
Mastic is the trademark of Chios. Its cultivation has been known since antiquity and contributed to the economic prosperity of the island.
Its distinctive character is that it thrives only in southern Chios. Although in the past efforts have been made to cultivate in other regions of Greece as well as in foreign countries, the result was not positive. The mastic has not succeeded anywhere else. According to scientific theories, this is due to the particular climatic conditions of the island's southern side (underwater volcanoes and limestone).
The tradition states that Mastiha was the "tear" of the schin in the martyrdom suffered by Saint Isidorus (253 AD) under a Mastic Tree.
From Antiquity to Modern Greece Mastiha was treated with incredible respect throughout the world.
Cultivating mastic trees is a time consuming and painful process. Every tree lives about 100 years. While from the 5th year onwards he starts to give his scrub resin. The procedure for collecting mastic, which the locals call embroidery, begins in June and ends in October. In short, it includes cleaning the tree and marking the trunk at various points from which the retsina flows through tears. Then follow the collection of mastic. Originally the thick (the big pieces) and the chipped (the smaller pieces).
Many ancient writers refer to the beneficial properties of mastic. In all historical periods, the cultivation of mastiha played a decisive role in the island's economy. That's why the medieval villages or the mastic villages of southern Chios were built as forts. Thus, they could face pirate raids aimed at stealing the famous mastic. Moreover, it is no coincidence that during the Genoese occupation and the Ottoman domination these villages enjoyed special privileges.