The mortar and pestle are one of humanity’s first culinary implements, dating back thousands of years. It has been around for thousands of years, long before agriculture. Hundreds of instances have been discovered, and many families continue to use a mortar and pestle set from generation to generation now. The mortar and pestle have fallen out of favor with the invention of electronic instruments such as blenders, food processors, and spice grinders, among other things. However, for many activities, these gadgets are unable to completely replace a good mortar and pestle. Follow the links below to find out everything you need to know about this historic cooking equipment.
What is the purpose of a mortar and pestle?
The mortar (the bowl) and pestle (the wand) have a wide range of applications in a wide range of culinary traditions. The most typical application is for the grinding of spices, seeds, and whole grains. Using a spice crusher instead of a food processor or a spice grinder produces a distinct flavor from the cutting produced by these appliances. A mortar and pestle can be beneficial if you want to get the most flavor out of your spices.
In addition, you will see mortar and pestle are used to puree components like garlic and to create sauces such as aioli and pesto. In reality, a mortar and pestle are required for a genuinely excellent pesto to achieve the desired creamy texture. A mortar and pestle are required for many pastes used in Asian cuisines, such as Thai curry paste and many of the pastes found in Indian cuisine. If you know you will be using your mortar and pestle primarily for these purposes, it is advisable to get the type of mortar and pestle that is typical to that particular culinary heritage.
Instructions on how to use a mortar and pestle
The greatest mortar and pestle will allow you to process your ingredients in a short amount of time. To make your components into a paste or powder, you must use the pestle to both strike and grind them together. To grind most spices, all you need to do is roll the pestle in the spices until the desired consistency is achieved. When working with larger ingredients, short, sharp strikes can be used to break them down until they are small enough to grind successfully.
Making paste is very similar to this. Grinding the dry ingredients is followed by adding the liquid or oil slowly while processing until the desired consistency is reached. Pesto, mayonnaise, and aioli are all made using this method. Traditionally, this is the method used to prepare these sauces.
The Most Effective Mortar and Pestle for Spice Grinding
While you read our reviews, keep in mind what you intend to use your mortar and pestle for throughout the process.
9 Best Mortar and Pestle For Grinding Spices
Tera Mortar and Pestle Set with Lid (includes a lid).
Designed in Italy, the Tera mortar and pestle set is a nice basic option made of granite with a capacity of one and a half cups of ground food. This makes it a good size for grinding spices, but it may be a little small for making sauces like pesto, so be careful. Although the manufacturer claims that it has a capacity of 2 cups, users have reported that it holds less.
This set comes with a lid to keep any spices you’re grinding contained, as well as a non-slip pad to protect surfaces and a garlic peeler for chopping garlic. It is much easier to grind with a heavy stone, and you won’t have to worry about staining your work surface because of the unpolished interior and pestle. It is also a good size for the mortar, allowing you to grind without worrying about spices escaping.
One thing to keep in mind is that seasoning is required for this mortar and pestle. You can do this with rice if you want. Instructions on how to use the mortar and pestle are included with the purchase.
Vasconia 4-Cup Granite Molcajete Mortar and Pestle with Wooden Handles
The Vasconia molcajete is a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle that has been used for centuries. It has a capacity of 4 cups and is made of granite. Not only is it suitable for grinding spices, but it is also suitable for making guacamole the traditional way. This molcajete can also be used to process a variety of other soft foods, as well as to make baby food.
Although it cannot be washed in the dishwasher, most stone mortar and pestle sets must be washed by hand without soap to be used. One thing to keep in mind is that this is constructed entirely of granite. One of the most authentic molcajetes is made entirely of basalt. If you’re looking for something truly traditional, you might want to look elsewhere.
When it comes to the pestle, the shape may make it uncomfortable to use over time or for extended periods. It’s also a little too short. Another thing to keep in mind is that the interior is maybe a little too polished. While this reduces the amount of time you have to spend seasoning it before using it, you may find that it does not penetrate the tough skins of peppers and tomatoes as well as you would like. For chunky salsas, this means that it may not work quite as well.
Many other people complained that the seasoning process took a long time and was difficult. If you know you will have difficulty working with it for long periods, you may want to consider purchasing one that has been pre-seasoned or even pre-owned.
Jamie Oliver’s Mortar and Pestle and Spice Mill
With a large capacity and good build quality, this mortar and pestle is a good buy. You can choose whether you want a polished or unpolished version of this piece, which is also made of granite. The pestle is a reasonable size, and because of its large size, it is suitable for making pesto or guacamole without difficulty.
Seasoning is required before use, and you may want to keep the online listing for future reference for cleaning instructions. There are no real instructions included in the package, aside from a note to wash in soapy water, which is contrary to what the online listing states should be avoided.
Another point to mention is that the packaging, particularly for the pestle, is extremely minimal. There have been numerous reports of the pestle being damaged upon arrival. When purchasing, exercise caution because this appears to be a very common problem. While the brand and manufacturing are of high quality, the padding used in the packaging is of lower quality.
Mortar and Pestle Made of Kota Japan Marble
This beautiful marble set from Kota Japan is a great option if you’re looking for something that can grind small amounts of food while also being visually appealing. If you don’t have a lot of storage space, you won’t be disappointed to see this sitting out on the counter.
It is effective, thanks to the use of a properly sized pestle and the use of natural marble as a building material. It does not, however, have a lot of storage space. You won’t be able to fit an entire avocado in there. The best way I can describe the size of the mortar’s bowl is that it’s about the size of a lime in diameter.
A larger mortar and pestle is not a good choice if you need a larger size. – However, if you only require a small amount of storage space, this will suffice. It is also effective for medications and nutritional supplements. If you need something that can turn a pill into a powder so that you can hide it from a picky pet, this is the product for you.
Cooler Kitchen Mortar and pestle with EZ-Grip Silicone and Porcelain Handle
In addition to being made of porcelain, the EZ-Grip mortar and pestle have silicone added to the base and handle to help prevent your mortar from sliding around while you are using it. The fact that it is made of porcelain means that it will not absorb smells or stains, and it can be washed in the dishwasher.
The pestle is a good size, with plenty of room to grip and grind the ingredients in. It is, on the other hand, quite small. Because of this, it is a poor choice if you require a larger mortar. Because of the porcelain material, this is a good choice if you want to use your mortar and pestle for both grinding medication and grinding spices. You won’t have any cross-contamination because it’s so easy to clean up after.
One disadvantage of porcelain mortars is that they cannot withstand the type of grinding and pounding that a stone mortar can. Older reviews have mentioned cracking at the bottom. A new base design, on the other hand, should make this less likely. If you’re going to be breaking down tough spices or herbs, it’s still best to use a different type of mortar and pestle.
PriorityChef Mortar and Pestle Set
This PriorityChef mortar and pestle set is made of black granite, which makes it ideal for grinding together both wet and dry ingredients in the kitchen. Granite is not only visually appealing, but it is also simple to maintain. Because it is so durable and hard, the pestle will never produce any type of dust or residue, and neither the mortar nor the pestle will scratch easily.
The PriorityChef mortar and pestle have a capacity of two cups, and the 6-inch pestle is large enough to grind avocado pieces, peppers, tomatoes, and other larger chunks of food without clogging the mortar. This set contains everything a chef needs to make everything from guacamole to spice rubs. The weight of the mortar provides stability, but two non-slip pads are also included to ensure that the mortar remains firmly in place while you grind your ingredients to a fine powder. Despite its substantial weight, the pestle is designed to be comfortable and easy to hold.
Before using the mortar and pestle, it is necessary to season it, but the included instructional booklet makes the process straightforward. Grinding dry white rice and wiping away any dust from the mortar and pestle after seasoning is a good way to clean them. The set, like any other stone mortar and pestle set, can be rinsed with water and allowed to air dry if desired after use.
ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle Set
This ChefSofi mortar and pestle set is a popular choice when looking for a mortar and pestle that can handle even the most demanding cooking projects. This mortar and pestle has a five-cup capacity, so you can make large batches of guacamole, salsa, pesto, spice rubs, or nearly anything else you can think of. The set includes two pestles, measuring 8.5 inches and 6.5 inches in length, respectively, allowing chefs to select the most appropriate size for the task at hand. The larger pestle is ideal for crushing larger pieces of food, whereas the smaller pestle is ideal for grinding or mixing smaller pieces of food.
Made of unpolished granite, this mortar and pestle set is ideal for quickly and evenly crushing or grinding whatever you’re blending or blending into a paste. Because granite is not a porous stone, the set is easy to clean and will not absorb flavors or smells. The mortar and pestle has a wide base and a deep bowl, which helps to keep ingredients in place while mixing. It also eliminates the need for chefs to be concerned about the mortar shifting while in use. The mortar’s base is wide, and it is also equipped with a non-skid felt pad underneath it. The weight of the mortar also contributes to the overall stability of the set while it is in operation.
HiCoup Mortar and Pestle Set
The granite mortar and pestle from HiCoup is a fantastic option for those looking for a mortar and pestle set that is both simple to use and clean while still retaining an authentic feel. In this set, which was designed in Toronto and is being manufactured by a family business, the non-porous, unpolished granite serves as the primary material. While the granite’s roughness assists with evenly grinding foods such as herbs, spices, and pill capsules, the fact that it does not absorb liquids mean that it will not retain odors or flavors and will be stain resistant. This set is also very easy to clean because of the granite countertops. It’s even dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze whenever you need it.
Because of the weight of this large mortar and pestle set, it is simple to grind even the driest or most difficult ingredients with it. It also helps to keep the mortar firmly in place while it is in use because of its weight. This large set, which has a bowl that is approximately 4 inches wide and a pestle that is approximately 5.5 inches long, is ideal for chefs who want to tackle even the largest of cooking projects. The black and gray pattern on the mortar and pestle makes it a focal point in the kitchen, and the rough outer surface is not only visually appealing but also serves as a throwback to more ancient mortar and pestle sets, which is an added bonus.
FestMex Genuine Handmade Mexican Mortar and Pestle
The FestMex mortar and pestle set gives chefs the feel and appearance of traditional Mexican mortar and pestles without the cost of buying a separate set. This set, which was handcrafted in Mexico, includes a mortar and pestle that measure approximately 7 inches across and 5 inches tall, as well as a pestle that measures approximately 4.5 inches long. The bowl holds a total of two cups. The set has been meticulously carved from volcanic stone, and the rough surface is ideal for crushing and grinding materials of all kinds. This set was created specifically for the purpose of making salsas or guacamole, but it’s also a good choice for crushing herbs or powdering pills.
The mortar is supported by small but sturdy traditional feet, which ensure that it remains firmly in place while in use. The pestle has been designed to be both comfortable in the hand and simple to use when grinding grains. They are built to last for decades, and the set includes an instructional card that explains how to care for them, including how to season and clean the set properly after each use. However, after a set has been seasoned and used a few times, the color of the set will typically darken, and the set will eventually take on a rich black hue. Because the stone is not porous, it is simple to clean, and it can be either rinsed out with water and allowed to dry or wiped clean with a cloth to remove any remaining residue.
Inspecting a mortar and pestle for quality is important
When purchasing a mortar and pestle, it is important to consider what you intend to use it for. A smaller mortar and pestle will suffice if you only want to grind fresh spices for your dishes. Pesto and curry paste, on the other hand, necessitates the use of a much larger mortar and pestle. Choosing a larger size allows you to have greater versatility.
Mortars and pestles are now available in a variety of materials; however, not all of them are equally effective. The most suitable material is a hard stone such as granite. As long as the surfaces are not polished, the roughness will aid in the efficiency of the grinding process. Ceramic is typically as hard as stone, but it will break if you attempt to pound hard ingredients into it.
You can also find all of the wood models, as well as the glass and metal models. Certain metals can be used effectively, and some cultures have traditionally used metal to construct their mortar and pestles. Wood can be effective, but it has the potential to retain flavors and taint your next batch of spices. The most common applications for glass are as decorative items or for grinding medications. It is not as effective when applied to food.
No matter what material you choose, you must make certain that the pestle is a good match for the material. You want one that is long enough to prevent you from accidentally running your hand into the side while using it. Another important consideration is that the pestle be wide enough to ensure that your ingredients are ground efficiently and do not escape out the sides. It is possible to make the pestle out of the same material as the mortar, or it is possible to make it out of a different material such as wood. As long as it is heavy and tough enough to grind effectively, the material of the mortar isn’t as important as the weight and toughness of the stone.
If you know you will be cooking primarily foods from a particular culture, investing in a traditional mortar and pestle from that culture is a good idea. A classic Thai set will produce excellent curry paste and finely grind spices, whereas a traditional Mediterranean mortar and pestle will produce excellent pesto and aioli. While it may work for whole spices, it may not work as well for tough ingredients such as those found in curry pastes.
If you want to have a variety of options, look for a mortar and pestle that can handle a variety of tasks well. Generally speaking, this refers to a heavy stone mortar and pestle with a large capacity for grinding grains. You’ll need at least 4 cups of coffee. Because many mortar and pestle sets are made solely for decorative purposes, it is important to double-check the measurements rather than relying on the manufacturer’s claims that it is a large mortar and pestle.