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In a lot of modernized first world nations today, the mortar and pestle for grinding peppercorns are considered old fashioned and even extinct.
Many thanks to technology for providing the easy way out of almost everything, including cooking, many modern-day chefs consider the mortar and pestle grinding to be a waste of time their time and do not even have the energy to go through the stress; “what is the need for spending should long minutes crushing ingredients in a mortar when I can easily grind them in my blender, saving time and stress?”.
The peppercorn has been a long-standing spice in traditional kitchens for so long. Apart from the mouth-watering flavor, it gives to meals, it also has herbal values.
The peppercorn is the fruit of Piper nigrum, a flowering vine in the Piperaceae family. It is mostly called Black pepper and is cultivated for its fruit- the peppercorn. The dried Peppercorns are usually ground and used as spices and seasonings in traditional meals and some modern-day meals, too.
What mortar and pestle will do a great job grinding Peppercorns?
Just about any mortar and pestle made with an abrasive element for crushing tough ingredients will crush your peppercorn just fine, but is there any Mortar And Pestle designed to make the work of crushing Peppercorns easier?
After the research that has been made, we have discovered that the Fox Run Large Marble Mortar and Pestle will grind the peppercorn into just what you need for your nicely prepared meals.
The marble mortar and pestle are carved from the marble stone with distinct attention given to its shape and finishing. The interior is usually rough, making it easy to get a smooth consistency when using it. You would find the marble mortar in different sizes: small, medium, and large.
My Top 5 Mortar And Pestle For Peppercorns
Although the small marble mortar and pestle has been proven as the best for grinding Peppercorns to the most desirable results, there are other mortars and pestles that would produce just as good results.
If you have any of them in your possession, you really do not need to go searching for the small marble mortar and pestle.
#1. Thai Granite Mortar and Pestle
These mortar and pestle are beautifully carved from granite stone. It is as hard as expected and solid for any kind of mortar and pestle grinding. It is usually compared with the marble mortar and pestle when the issue of which mortar can handle more aggressiveness than the other, and sometimes, it wins the argument.
It has a smooth, round, and finely designed exterior with an unpolished interior, making it easy to grind dry fibrous ingredients better than any other. It is heavy- both the mortar and the pestle.
Its weight makes it very efficient when grinding ingredients for the Thai red curry paste. It crushes the dried chili leather skin and its tough seed into a fine powder and breaks apart the fibrous nature of some tough aromatic veggies (makrut lime leaves and galangal). This is as a result of the moderate and hefty design of the Thai granite pestle.
This mortar is made exclusively for the Thai red curry paste, but can also be used for other purposes, too. If you are making a Thai red curry paste, you should look for no other way than this. Its unpolished surfaces of the interior of the mortar bowl and the head of the pestle give it this grinder feeling, making it easier to crush ingredients to a fine consistency.
It will also work great for crushing Peppercorns- the hardness of the pestle beating against the firmness of the mortar bowl, with its rough interior.
Although you can use it to make Pesto sauce, it may not give the top class result as the Mediterranean mortar and pestle. Its slightly smaller pestle makes it more tasky to make a good emulsion.
If you would use it for your pesto sauce, you would need to put in some more effort and more time to achieve your desired results.
You should also know that because of the granite it is carved from, the granite pestle is quite heavy to handle.
#2. Marble Mortar With Olive Wood Pestle
The marble mortar and wooden pestles made from Olive Woodworks magic when making pesto and other related sauces. It is also a great choice for making emulsifiers such as mayonnaise, aioli, etc. Electrical blenders are usually used in making these emulsifiers, but the ones made by mortar and pestle grinding is second to none.
Pounding the ingredients with the blunt head of the wooden pestle breaks the ingredients into creamy textures just as electrical blenders and mixers will.
Making pestos with the marble mortar and wooden pestle would give you the most creamy consistency and you wouldn’t need to use so much effort. The round bowl of the mortar makes it easy to swirl the ingredients round the mortar, giving you the smoothest and creamy consistency.
The wooden pestle is not as hard as the granite pestle, and its large size and round head make it perfect for pounding the soft ingredients used in making pesto sauce and emulsifiers.
It would not do a good job in crushing tough ingredients as the ones used in making the Thai curry sauce. However, the largeness of the pestle’s size makes it efficient for grinding Peppercorns, the round blunt head beating the peppercorn to your desired consistency.
The wooden pestle also comes with less noise and easier handling. The marble mortar does a better job than a ceramic mortar crushing spices and seasonings.
The marble mortar and wooden pestle are usually found around the South of France, Italy, and most of the Mediterranean regions. However, you can buy one online from online stores or you may find it in an antique store or an estate sale.
Another way to get it is to take a trip to its native regions and purchase one for the beauty of your kitchen and the smoothness and creaminess of your pesto sauce, emulsifiers, and other pesto related sauces.
#3. Japanese mortar and pestle (Suribachi and Surikogi)
This is a Japanese mortar and pestle, the mortar is called Suribachi and the pestle is called Surikogi. The Suribachi is usually made from pottery with ridges carved in the unpolished interiors of the bowl.
These ridges called Kushi-no-me in the Japanese language have more abrasiveness than any other mortar and are effective for crushing tough ingredients.
The Surikogi is usually carved out of hardwood, making for easy handling and better crushing. The wooden nature of the Surikogi will let you pound with less noise, fewer efforts, and more results.
The wooden pestle would make you work harder and with more time when grinding your peppercorn, but with more perseverance, you would get just what you want off it.
The Suribachi is made exclusively for grinding sesame seeds. The ridges in the bowl’s interior allow the seeds to crush and crumble as you swirl your pestle around the mortar bowl.
The paste of a mortar and pestle ground sesame seeds is way better with a sweeter aroma than the ready-made sesame paste. It is also best eaten fresh.
The Suribachi is also great for grinding spices, grinding meat for meatballs (or in Japanese case tsukune- chicken balls), and mashing tofu. It can also be used in making non-Japanese dishes, for example, Pesto.
The Suribachi comes in different sizes but the best for crushing sesame seeds is the large or medium size. When you buy the Japanese mortar, also buy a bamboo scraper for cleaning out leftover ingredients from the ridges after each session to preserve the freshness of your Suribachi.
#4. Mexican mortar and pestle (Molcajete)
The Mexican mortar and pestle are usually carved out of porous volcanic rock. The mortar is called Molcajete while the pestle is called tejolote or temolote.
Because the porous volcanic rock is not as handy as other materials used in making mortars, it’s usually not surprising to find the molcajete made from other inferior materials.
You would usually find some made from granite and other rocks. And the most inferior version, which is one you must avoid is made from concrete.
The porous volcanic rock is the best molcajete you would find, with added abrasiveness to aid the crushing of tough ingredients. It works well when making Mexican meals such as salsas and guacamole, helping to crush the ingredients from start to finish. Its interior is made with an extra abrasive element which makes it efficient for grinding Peppercorns to a fine powder.
The molcajete is often mistaken for the metate, another Mexican Mortar And Pestle used for grinding Corns to make Masa for tamales and tortillas. The difference between both mortars is that the metate is larger and flatter than the molcajete.
Before using your molcajete, you must season it first by grinding rice and large Crystal salt in it. This helps remove the volcanic dust. You can also buy a pre-seasoned one.
To get the original molcajete from the porous volcanic rock, you should take a trip to Mexico and shop in one of their antique stores. You may also find them in the US, too.
#5. Soapstone Mortar And Pestle
The Soapstone mortar and pestle grind just about any ingredients from mashing masalas for gravies, to pounding spices like Peppercorns, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, etc.
When choosing a soapstone mortar and pestle for your Peppercorns, make sure to pick the size that fits the number of Peppercorns you want to grind. Also, a round, hollow bowl will do a better job at keeping in the ingredients while you crush.
The mortar is usually handmade, carved from soapstone by rural artisans who find them in areas like Tamil Nadu, etc. The Soapstone mortar exists in different shapes and sizes with an unpolished interior made for crushing tough ingredients.
You really do not need to season the soapstone mortar before use. A good wash will suffice.
We cannot sufficiently exhaust the numerous mortar and pestle available all over the world from different materials, but with the few given above, you know which mortar to get when you need to crush your peppercorn, and other ingredients, too.
Some other top-class mortar and pestle you may consider
What to Look for When Buying a Mortar and Pestle For Your Peppercorns
Although its plant is called Black Pepper, peppercorns are not always black. You’ll find it in black color when the dried unripe fruit is cooked. If not cooked, the dried unripe fruit is green. It turns white when it is ripe; red when it is fresh and has matured fully.
The ground peppercorns are what we usually pick up at groceries as white and black pepper to season our meals. But to get the best, original flavor off your Peppercorns, you should be given to crushing it with the mortar and pestle when you want to cook, and crushing just the needed quantity for your cooking.
Before you can think of buying mortar and pestle for your Peppercorn, here are things I have put into consideration before highlighting the mortar and pestle above for you. It is important that you also put these into consideration when making your purchase.
An Indian Chef once said she owned three mortars of different sizes. The smaller one for crushing spices and the large one for making sauces, pesto, salsa, etc.
When purchasing your mortar and pestle, what you would be using it exclusively for should help you determine what size to buy. If you would be using your mortar for spices, herbs, and the likes a small-sized mortar and an accompanying pestle will do the job efficiently.
Spices as such are best used fresh so you would just need to crush just the right amount needed for a cooking pot.
However, if you are preparing your sauces, pesto, guacamole, or salsa in your mortar, you definitely would need a large size to be able to prepare a large quantity at once.
The size of the pestle is as important as the size of the mortar, too. Using a small-sized pestle in a large mortar will only help you to put in more effort while achieving very minimal results.
Likewise, an extra-large pestle in a small mortar may help you beat your mortar to its early destruction.
Interior Shape And Design
The best shape your mortar can have is a round shape. The round shape gives you the allowance to swirl your pestle through it, reaching and crushing every ingredient.
Bowls with sharp corners will make it almost impossible to reach all your ingredients with the pestle. The best you would do is use a small spoon to bring out the ingredients to the center; but are you cut out for the stress?
Very importantly, avoid bowls with a smooth interior. Imagine trying to beat your dry spices in a ceramic or marble mortar whose interior is smooth and finely polished.
All you would end up doing is taking your spices through a bouncing castle time. You would have little or no result at the end of the day.
When purchasing your mortar, make sure the interior is rough with edges that would make for easy crushing of ingredients. Some pestles are also made with rough edges at the bottom, making for easier crushing of ingredients and spices.
This is the first thing you should put into consideration when choosing the mortar to buy. When we look at the types of mortar in the latter part of this article, we will also consider the best materials for what.
When buying a mortar for general purposes, the ceramic mortar is a terrible choice. With it, there are risks of cracks and chippings, and putting these risks into consideration will not let you beat your spices with the energy and aggressiveness as you would love to achieve your desired results.
The wooden mortar works great for wet ingredients and wooden pestles are usually easier to handle.
But in a general case, the stone mortar and pestle are the most recommendable. It’ll work perfectly for any kind of grinding, with no fear of breaking, cracking, or chipping. When getting a stone mortar, look out for the granite or marble stone mortar. They give the best results.
Can the mortar and pestle ever leave the culinary world?
Although some people consider the mortar and pestle grinding obsolete and old fashioned, all over the world today, wherever traditional meals are made, the mortar and pestle is an accessory in the kitchen. Funny how people would not consider traditional meals as old fashioned, but consider the tools that make them so.
Some meals won’t just have the same effect ground with a Blender as they would if they are crushed in a mortar. One of the reasons the mortar is a sweetheart to traditional chefs is that it preserves the original flavor of their spices and sauce, the flavor that gives the traditional meals an edge over modern meals.
The blender blade made through many chemical reactions would have finished the flavor and aroma in the few seconds it takes to blend.
History has it that our fore-parents lived longer because of the things they ate: food with little or no chemical additives, 100% natural meals with fully maximized nutrients and flavor, making every spoon more desirable than the last.
They cooked with natural fire, stored their meals in vessels they carved with their hands, and had the most natural cooking tools.
In a bid to make life easier for us today, we have laid aside the natural and opt for the chemical. Of course, technology has helped everyone and technology has its beauty; but technology should not be the reason the beauty of the natural is being trodden upon.
It may interest you to know that the sounds that came from the beating of the pestle against the mortar were one of the first activities that birthed work music with rhythms tied to the activities of pre-industrial living. So it just isn’t about food; the mortar and pestle have its special place in the history and evolution of man.
The mortar and pestle are traced way back to the beginning of the stone age when men started making fire from stones and carving stones to make vessels and instruments, the mortar and pestle was one of those things carved. Some mortar and pestle in some traditional kitchens today are as old as many generations before, handed down the line, and are still as efficient as ever.
Although the peppercorn is a native of South India, its grounded form is used as seasoning and spices all over the world. Traditional chefs and recipes say that to get the best results off your Peppercorns, you should grind just what you want when you want it. Premade Peppercorns are good but do not have the same aromatic freshness as does the freshly ground ones.
Mortar and pestle exist in different types, most of them uniquely made for specific purposes. It is important to know that not all mortar and pestle can successfully crush every ingredient that needs a mortar and pestle grinding so it is important that you know what to look out for when purchasing your mortar and pestle.
You should know that pounding ingredients and spices in the mortar and pestle saps its natural oil. The best way to get your spices and ingredients aromatic flavors in full is by cooking them in their original state. If you must grind it, it should be left as a coarse powder to reserve some of its oil.
It is only with the mortar and pestle grinding you have full control of your ingredients’ consistency. As you crush, you can easily decide when you have achieved what you want and when it is time to stop.
Although the small marble mortar and pestle has been tested and proven to be the best for grinding Peppercorns, you should note that it is small because you are naturally expected to just crush little peppercorn for one cooking.
In cases where you have to crush peppercorns in large quantities, to avoid the stress of having to go many rounds before exhausting the peppercorn you have to grind, use a large marble mortar and pestle.