What have you used your mortar and pestle to grind since you bought it? This guide will show you how to use a mortar and pestle to maximize the full potential and make it last longer.
This is not just like other mortar and pestle guide for only newbies. Even though you have been using your mortar for years, have you asked yourself if you are using it the right way?
Getting ground produce of your ingredients by using a mortar and pestle does not directly imply that you are using the tool correctly.
My guess is that whenever you use your mortar and pestle, you always have to deal with ingredients flying all over your countertop instead of remaining inside the mortar. There is a proper approach to the use of mortar and pestle to prevent this.
There is also a better approach to the use of mortar and pestle to make sure that the spices are not left in uneven pieces and to make sure that they become a fine powder.
It is time to learn how to handle your mortar and pestle like a professional chef that will not make a single mess throughout the process. At the end of reading this post, you will realize that there are so many things you never knew about the use of mortar and pestle.
If you have decided to level up from buying pre-packaged spices to grinding your fresh cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, cumin, and more, then you need a mortar and pestle. But in the same connection, you need to learn how to use the tool very well.
This will not only help you to know how to release the fresh flavors and oils of your ingredients but also help you to step your cooking up a few notches and hacks.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the proper use of mortar and pestle
For some people, even though they are given all the professional advice on using a mortar and pestle, they may never get it right. This is not because the steps involved in properly using a mortar and pestle is difficult.
It may be because there is a need for them to pick the right material of mortar and pestle that fits their grinding needs.
In other similar posts, I have clearly outlined the difference between various types of mortar and pestle and their respective significance in the grinding process. But that is not what we are looking into in this post today.
But just to be clear, your mortar and pestle may be made from wood, stone, or ceramic, and unfortunately, not everyone can feel convenient when using all these mortar and pestle types. That is why the first step of learning how to properly use a mortar and pestle is to choose the material based on your culinary needs and, perhaps, your taste.
The size of your mortar and pestle also affects the proper use of the instrument. For example, there are various types and sizes of mortar and pestle and you just have to figure out the size that will work best for you.
You want to make sure that the size of your mortar and pestle allows you to easily handle it and move it from the workbench to the kitchen table. If you intend to properly use a mortar and pestle for grinding enough spice to make whatever dish or spice mix that you immediately want to use, then you should consider the size and other significant specifications of the mortar and pestle.
Before we fully dive into the process and steps involves in using a mortar and pestle properly (we are already on it though), the very first step to take as someone who wants to make proper use of a mortar and pestle is to go through the recipe for processing instructions.
If this is your first time owning and using a mortar and pestle, there is every need to know the type of ingredients you can grind in a mortar and pestle and the ones you can not.
If you grind ingredients that are not ideal for mortar and you experience a tough time, it may seem like you don’t know how to use it properly whereas you are misusing the instruments.
Items that are good to grind or crush in the mortar and pestle and will ones that will not give you unnecessary problems when grinding include peppercorns, spice seeds, herb seeds, fresh herb and spice leaves, rice, nuts, and other plant seeds.
When using a mortar and pestle, you should not process ingredients that are required to be chopped or blended. Now that you have been introduced to the proper use of mortar and pestle, I believe you have an idea of the type of mortar and pestle to choose that will work best for you. Now the question is how do you use a mortar and pestle?
A detailed guide on how to use a mortar and pestle
You did not choose to simply and conveniently head to the store and get pre-packaged ground spice, you did not choose to ignore the mortar and pestle that sits quietly in one corner of the kitchen cabinet.
Not because it is using a mortar and pestle time consuming than buying prepackages spice from the supermarket but because you want to keep the aroma and natural flavor of homemade recipes.
If you are having a tough time using a mortar and pestle at home, then this is the guide that will show you how to handle your old fashioned kitchen tool like a pro.
Tip 1 – Know your mortar and pestle
Like I have mentioned earlier, the first step to making proper use of your mortar and pestle in order t get that perfect pungent and flavourful spice blends are to choose the perfect mortar and pestle.
There are mortar and pestles that are made with stone, wood, or ceramic. Your choice on any of these is determined by your taste, and how they will work well for your blend recipe. Each of the types of mortar and pestle has its respective advantages and disadvantages.
For example, when you make use of a wooden mortar and pestle, you should expect them to get easily stained because they are slightly porous. When using wooden mortar and pestle, you can not escape the thorough cleaning after each use. A ceramic mortar and pestle are ideal for achieving finely ground spice.
To top it all on the materials of mortar and pestle, most professionals prefer granite because it has the right texture surface of the bowl to grind tough ingredients.
Tip 2 – Crushing spices and a variety of ingredients
After you have been able to choose the mortar and pestle that will work best for you, it is time to start getting familiar with all the basic techniques of grinding, crushing, or bashing when using the tool.
While a mortar and pestle can be used for grinding whole spices, herbs, spice seeds, spice leaves, nuts, or salt, be aware that there is a specific grinding technique that gives a different consistency.
Crushing spices or nuts in a mortar and pestle is different from grinding. When crushing, you are releasing the flavor but kind of keeping the texture of the spice in normal shape.
Grinding simply involves transforming your spices into powder. This basic understanding helps in using a mortar and pestle properly to get the desired results.
Tip 3 – Fill your mortar and pestle with the right capacity of spice
When you are about to either grind or crush your spice or ingredients in a mortar and pestle, make sure that the mortar bowl is filed with the ingredient in 1/3rd of its capacity so that you will not experience a tough time grinding and also to avoid spilling.
Another important thing when using mortar and pestle is to grind in small batches so that the flavors of your spices can be effectively preserved and they will be evenly ground.
Tip 4 – Grinding to clean the tool
An important aspect of the proper use of mortar and pestle is the cleaning part after each use. The most effective way to clean your mortar and pestle is to use dry white rice and grind it finely in your mortar.
The smell and flavor of the previously ground ingredients will be taken away while you grind the rice, you will know when your mortar is clean because, at that stage, the white remnant will be odor-free.
So in summary, here are the quick steps to take to use your new mortar and pestle properly:
- Make sure the mortar is properly seasoned and then place it on a sturdy table
- Add your ingredients into the mortar in 1/3rd capacity of the mortar bowl to avoid difficulty in grinding or crushing. You may have to grind in small batches.
- Use the pestle to twist and smash the ingredients around the bowl leaving no space untouched. This process will surely take time but you want to make sure you get the fine powder before you can stop.
- Carefully pour out the fine powder of your spice into a separate bowl
- Clean your mortar and pestle by washing it in clean water, without detergent, and let it air dry. You should never wash it with soap!
- Make sure they are dried before keeping them back in the kitchen cabinet.
Conclusion on how to use a mortar and pestle
As I conclude, I must not fail to mention that the seasoning and proper cleaning of your mortar and pestle are as important as knowing how to properly use them. It is a good decision that you have chosen to abandon your electric grinder and food process to get powder using a simple and ancient kitchen toll called the mortar and pestle.
You will now get the most flavor out of your herbs and spice but it depends on how well you know how to use the mortar and pestle.
I strongly believe that this post has opened your eyes to how a mortar and pestle is used as well as the necessary tips needed to make it last long and deliver the result you want.
And as I have mentioned earlier, the type of mortar and pestle you use as well as how convenient you are when using it also adds to how quickly you will be able to learn to use mortar and pestle in no time.
While they are available in a wide variety of sizes and can be found made of ceramic, glass, porcelain, wood, metal, granite, marble, or bamboo, the best choice will be to pick the one that offers you great convenience and this is not something I can choose for you.
But the general advantage you will be graining, regardless of what type of mortar and pestle you plan to use is that there will be no assembly required, no noise and you will not have a problem cleaning after use.
Make use of these tips I have shared with you, and see how easily you will be able to do great things in the kitchen using that simple ancient device called the mortar and pestle.