Mortar and Pestle

Tools | December 13, 2016 | By

They’re a familiar sight to most, a common symbol for pharmaceutical products, but what are a mortar and pestle to the world of cooking?

A mortar is a bowl shaped vessel and a pestle is a club shaped tool. They are used for pounding, grinding and mixing ingredients. A Mortar and Pestle is often referred to as a manual food processor. In general, they are sold in a set with one mortar and one pestle, but on occasions, there may be a “nest” sold together.

Mortar and Pestle are excellent tools for grinding spices as they generate very little friction so aromas are not burned off as they can be if using a food processor or grinder. 

The sizes of mortar and pestles range from very small to large. When buying a mortar and pestle, while the smaller sets have a “cute” factor, buy the largest one you can accommodate in your kitchen as you can always use a large mortar for a small amount of ingredients but not vice versa.

Mortars with high sides are better as they keep ingredients in the bowl as they’re pounded, whereas ingredients pounded in a shallow sided mortar can “jump” out of the bowl.

Mortars are made from a range of materials, each type used for a different purpose:

Resistance to moisture and odor: Material Type: Appropriate Ingredients:
Low Wood Dry ingredients such as spices and dried herbs.
Medium Marble, granite, stoneware, lava stone, iron Dry and wet ingredients – special care and preparation is needed before and after use
High Porcelain, vitrified ceramic Excellent with wet ingredients and good with dry ingredients. Generally dishwasher safe.

Mortars and pestles are widely available online and at home stores, kitchen specialty stores, restaurant supply stores and some supermarkets.

This is a useful tool for any kitchen especially if you do not have a food processor or grinder.