It’s time to stop worrying about what’s grinding your gears and start worrying about what’s grinding your food. Sure, technology has advanced and there are all sort of fancy food grinding solutions these days like food processors and blenders and the like. However, nothing grinds food into dust quite like a good old fashioned mortar and pestle. Sure, these products have gotten any substantial design changes since some point in the middle ages, but that’s only because there’s no need to mess with perfection.
Mortars and pestles have been used to grind our food for thousands of years. Our ancestors embraced this simple, yet remarkably valuable tool for a reason. There’s no better way to grind down gains, fibers, and cells until their structure, texture, and flavor is fundamentally changed. Having a mortar and pestle in your kitchen isn’t merely some sort of knowing tribute to this history of preparing food, it’s an absolute necessity for anyone who hopes to get the most out of their kitchen. This is the only acceptable means with which to grind your way to culinary glory.
Oh sure, you’re going to have to work for it. You can’t simply press a button on a mortar and pestle and end up with some perfectly ground and flavorful treats. Nope, you’ve got to get in there and do the work to see the results. There’s manual labor involved with this device, but the payoff is worth the elbow grease. There’s simply no other possible way to get the same results when it comes to grinding down food to a fine powder or paste. A mortar and pestle was one of the few inventions dreamed up by cavemen that is impossible to improve with modern technology.
The only question is how to find the best mortar and pestle that suits your lifestyle and bring that little beauty into your home. The days of finding suitable rocks and wearing them down into the right shapes are mercifully over. It’s far easier to end up with the perfect mortar and pestle than that. They are available in stores these days and thankfully, we are hear to help you search through the stacks to find the right one to suit the needs of your kitchen. Below you’ll find a list of all our favorite mortar and pestles available in a variety of materials. Below that, you’ll find a definitive guide to mortars and pestles that will arm you with the knowledge to find the best ones.
In other words, by the end of this article you’ll know everything that there is to know about mortar and pestles and feel fully prepared to select the right one for your family.
Best Overall Mortar And Pestle — Cole & Mason Granite Mortar And Pestle Set
If you’re looking for a truly luxurious mortar and pestle set that functions perfectly while also bringing a little “wow” factor to your counter, then look no further than this stunning set from the good people at Cole & Mason. This gorgeous hunk of granite looks large and in charge on any kitchen counter, practically acting as a conversation piece that will bring your whole kitchen together. However, this isn’t merely a pretty mortar and pestle set. It’s also exquisitely designed to grind your food to perfection.
Carefully engineered with even weight distribution throughout three major areas of the mortar, you can feel free to grind as hard as you want into this bowl without disrupting the balance anywhere to cause unfortunate spills. Beyond that, the bowl itself has been laid out for optimal surface area distribution, guaranteeing a balanced grind that won’t require you to work hard for even distribution. Simply put, this is a stunning, ambitious, and carefully calibrated mortar and pestle designed to fulfill all of your culinary dreams!
- Gorgeous design.
- Perfectly balanced mortar that it will never tip, no matter how hard you grind.
- Carefully designed bowl that guarantees an even grind.
- Made from only the finest granite, polished to perfection.
- Quite expensive.
- Prohibitively large for some kitchens.
Best Traditional Granite Mortar And Pestle — ChefSofi Mortar And Pestle Set
While the previous mortar and pestle set is ideal for lifestyle bloggers and mansion dwellers, it isn’t exactly the ideal choice for every shopper. Let’s say you just want a high quality classic mortar and pestle set. In that case, consider the ChefSofi Mortar And Pestle Set. If one were to google “mortar and pestle” this would be the image that tops the search. This is exactly what we all imagine when we picture a mortar and pestle in our mind’s eye and beyond the satisfying aesthetics, this beauty also gets the job done.
Since the ChefSofi set is made out of granite, it’s guaranteed to be a strong and durable item to add to your kitchen. The large 500 ml capacity will allow you to grind up just about anything that you could possibly need for any recipe. It’s easy to hold, well balanced, easy to wash, and versatile. This will do everything that you could possibly want a mortar and pestle to do! Oh sure, it might not be the prettiest option available. This unpolished set essentially looks like a big rock on your counter. But, that’s what a mortar and pestle is! Many people like the traditional look. You might be one of them.
- Designed to function perfectly.
- Easy to use and wash.
- Large capacity.
- Basic look.
- Fairly large and heavy, which could put off some home chefs.
Best Metal Mortar And Pestle — Tera Stainless Steel Mortar And Pestle Set
If you aren’t particularly fond of the idea of having a big hunk of rock on your kitchen counter or worry about your ability to pull the heavy unit off of your shelf, then there are certainly other styles of mortar and pestle to consider. While we don’t recommend glass or wooden set due to durability concerns, this stainless steel mortar and pestle from Tera is certainly worthy of your consideration. Oh sure, it steel isn’t exactly light as a feather, but at least it’s little lighter than stone and much easier on the eyes.
Beyond that pretty facelift, Tera’s Stainless Steel Mortar And Pestle set is a high achiever in the functionality department. The stainless steel design feels substantial in your hand and will stay balanced even through those the most difficult grinding sessions. A lid is included to guarantee yourself a splash free zone while making salsas and other potentially messy recipes. The set is also made out of rust proof material, so you don’t have to worry about any issues coming up from grinding down any acidic foods. Plus it doesn’t hold odor or residue, so a quick wash under the tap will be all you need to keep this set looking sparkly and new!
- Gorgeous stainless steal design.
- Splash-proof lid.
- Easy to use and wash.
- Smaller than the other options on this list.
- Might not last quite as long as other options.
Best Cast Iron Mortar And Pestle — Zassenhaus Extra Large Cast Iron Mortar And Pestle
Finally, if neither stone nor stainless steel tickle your fancy, then perhaps you need to embrace cast iron. That’s right everyone’s favorite heavy metal for long lasting pans can also make a killer mortar and pestle. Obviously, this won’t exactly be any lighter than a granite set, but will be quite a bit easier on the eyes. This will fit in beautifully to any kitchen with a modern visual design and function just as well as any of the other options on this list.
Obviously, it goes without saying that this cast iron mortar and pestle set was made to last. It’s sturdy, stable, and will serve all of your grinding needs for as long as you have a kitchen. As an added bonus, the mortar has a spout for easy pouring. Zassenhaus even offer a variety of sizes of mortar and pestle sets to suit your needs, so it’s hard to go wrong here.
- Attractive cast iron design.
- Built to last.
- Easy to use and wash.
- Built-in spout for easy pouring.
- Available in several styles and sizes.
Things To Look Out For
Here are some things to consider when choosing which mortar and pestle is right for you.
Simply put, don’t mess with perfection. When our ancestors made the first mortar and pestle out of rock, they truly stumbled onto the ideal substance to grind up their tasty treats. A powerful surface is necessary to properly grind up some goodness. Sure ceramic and wood sets look nice and will work ok for a while. But eventually they will start to chip or crack under the pressure, ruining a meal and forcing you to go out and get yet another mortar. Don’t waste your time or mortar. Go for stone or a similarly study substance and get it right the first time.
When it comes to pestles, size does matter. Please excuse the immature joke, but it’s true and an important to make a point. Some modern mortars come with small pestles that can hide within the bowl during storage. It might looks nice on a shelf, but this isn’t going to do you much good when the time comes to do some serious grinding. If your pestle is too thin, it’s just going to push your ingredients around without properly grinding them together. While if your pestle is too short, you’ll end up grinding you’re your knuckles into the mortar along with your ingredients. Don’t end up with a tiny pestle for the sake of aesthetics. Get one with some heft to it.
Keep It Round
While there are some mortar’s out there in different shapes, this is another instance where there’s no real way to improve on the classic mortar design. If there are any corners or awkward shapes to your mortar bowl, it’s going to lead to an inconsistent grind or food getting in stuck in your mortar and spoiling future meals. Don’t mess around with this. Get a round mortar the do it right.
Keep That Mortar Interior Unpolished
Getting a polished mortar lends the item a nice shine and pretty sheen, making it a far more visually appealing item to keep out on your countertop. However, it’s important that the polish be kept to the exterior. The interior of your mortar nees be a little rough and abrasive to get a good grind. If your mortar is smooth inside, it’s going to lead to a less consistent final product. While it’s nice to have a pretty mortar, it’s more important to have one that functions as intended.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I don’t intend to grind anything into powder. So why would I need a mortar and pestle?
Not everyone likes to grind their own peppercorns or spices. We get that. However, there are a surprising number of dishes that are best made in a mortar and pestle. You might even be surprised how easy it is to make these things at home with a mortar and pestle. Some of these dishes include: guacamole, pesto, hummas, chimichurri, curry paste, salsa, aioli, ground nuts, and more. You’ll be impressed by just how many wonderful things you can make with a mortar and pestle once you start experimenting.
What size of mortar should I get?
This really depends on what you intend to make with your mortar and pestle. If you’re just planning on grinding your own peppercorns for a single meal or other small grindings along those lines, then a small mortar will do. However, if you want to make your own pesto or curry paste, then it’s a good idea to splurge on a larger mortar. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck grinding up your ingredients in batches, which not only takes a long time but makes it more difficult to maintain a consistent texture.
Are mortar and pestles ready to use out of the box?
If you have a brand new mortar and pestle, then you’ll want to “season” it before commencing regular use. No, this doesn’t mean sprinkling salt and pepper on top. This is different. Upon first use, the grinding could loosen little pieces of rock into your food and that wouldn’t exactly be pleasant. So, you’ll want to do a first grinding to iron out any of those issues. It’s recommended to grind some rice into a paste, this will swallow up any potential issues. It’s not a bad idea to do this a few times a year, just to be safe. But definitely do it before thw first serious use of your mortar, at the very least.
Are mortar and pestles dishwasher safe?
Nope! In fact, you shouldn’t even wash them with soap unless you want the next batch of food that you grind in your mortar to taste soapy. Always wash and scrub without water and let it air dry. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your mortar is absolutely dry before use as too much moisture could turn your planned powder into an unpleasant paste.
How long do mortar and pestles last?
Obviously this depends on what your specific mortar and pestle is made out of and how you use it (for example: if it’s made of glass and you like to throw it on the ground to celebrate a good grind, it won’t last long). However, if you buy a high quality stone mortar and pestle and treat it right, it will last you for the rest of your life. These items are made to last, so treat them with the respect that they deserve and you will never need to seek a replacement.
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