Also known as benzoinum, benzoin resin, benzoin gum, gum Benjamin, or balsamic resin, benzoin is the dried sap that seeps out from injured benzoin trees (Styrax benzoin), which are native to Sumatra, Java, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand. Because benzoin is very fragrant, it is used to make perfumes and incense. It also contains benzoic acid, which makes it an effective antiseptic, stimulant, and inhalant. Among the varieties of benzoin, those from Siam and Sumatra benzoin trees are considered the finest. For centuries, benzoin has been mixed with frankincense or myrrh, particularly in the Middle East, to scent private homes and places of worship. (Photos below)
NOTE: It can cause allergic reactions. I found on Amazon.com.
Because of its healing properties it was used in early Spanish sauces during the in aristocratic and court homes during the 16th and 17th centuries because of access to the SPICE EXPLOSION. Spices and herbs were expensive so only the rich could afford at that time. One early Spanish sauce could contain the following:
- benjamin (some say it has a vanilla flavor)
- juniper berries
- in addition to butter
- grape juice
- white wine
- chicken stock
French sauces of the time contained the same above ingredients except for the use of lots of cinnamon and sugar.