How To Clean A Mortar and Pestle

Mortar and pestles are ancient utensils used together as a set for grinding and milling. Evidence shows its history dating back to 35000 BC. The word pestle originated from the Latin word pistillum, meaning “pounder.” Greek people often use a stone mortar and pestle for kitchen and medicinal purposes. Later it was redesigned and decorated with different metals and handles, even spouts for easy pouring.

The fact that there are so many different types of motor and pestles makes fine-tuning your mortar and pestle care important. If you are wondering how to clean a mortar and pestle, our guide can help.

Mortar and pestle are possibly the oldest utensils which are not changed until now and are still used in our kitchens today. Despite the invention of food processors, grinders and blenders, mortars and pestles are still preferred for grinding from the Middle East to America. They are preferred over food processors because crushing keeps the natural flavor of food while the use of blades causes the foods to lose their aroma and flavor.

Additionally, no assembly is required for mortar and pestle, they create less noise than processors, and it is much easier to clean mortar and pestle than a food processor. Learn how to clean a mortar and pestle!

Mortar and Pestle Care

Different types of mortar and pestles require different cleaning methods. Learning how to clean a mortar and pestle is important for prolonging the longevity of your kitchen tool. Let’s explore these methods one by one so you can easily care for your set.

Stone Mortar and Pestle Care:

Stone mortar and pestle are prone to staining if exposed to oily or acidic ingredients. It must be rinsed with warm water immediately after use to avoid staining. Following are the steps required to clean stone mortar and pestle. How to clean a mortar and pestle depends on what type of stone or wood it is made with.

· Rinse thoroughly with warm water.

· Clean the debris or dirt with the help of hands. If using dish soap, it is advised to use unscented mild dish soap because scented dish soap might absorb the fragrance and transfer in foods. Additionally, use any sponge to clean it and rewash it with warm water.

· For drying, you should use a dry cloth to avoid any water stains on the stone, or you can let it air dry.

Another way used to clean stone mortar, and pestle is with the help of uncooked rice. Two tablespoons of rice are ground until its color turns black, after which it is discarded. The process is repeated 2-3 times until the color of the rice does not change anymore.

Marble Mortar and Pestle Care:

How to clean a mortar and pestle that is made from marble.

The following steps must be followed to clean marble mortar and pestle:

· Wipe any residue left on the mortar from grinding with a paper towel. See if any nooks or scratches can be seen on your pestle. Clean any dark spots or marks from oily ingredients with a paper towel soaked in vinegar and lemon. Don’t let acid sit on stains for longer.

· Rinse it with warm water and put some dish soap.

· Rub both mortar and pestle with sponge or washcloth.

· Rinse again with warm water to wash the residue of soap.

· Clean it with a dry paper towel.

You can also use rice to clean the marble mortar and pestle to remove stains. Please don’t use any chemical or acidic liquid as it will damage the stone.

Learning How To Clean A Mortar and Pestle is Easy

Wood Mortar and Pestle Care:

Use wood mortar and pestle for dry ingredients as it absorbs oils and liquids and would be hard to clean afterward. Before you begin using your wooden mortar and pestle you’ll need to season the wooden mortar and pestle. Learn how to clean a mortar and pestle that is wood. Various methods are used to clean wooden mortar and pestle which are as follows:

· If a mortar and pestle are used for dry ingredients, use a paper towel to wipe food debris off your mortar and pestle. The mortar and pestle must be wiped off until all debris is removed.

· If a mortar and pestle are used for wet ingredients, clean it with a damped cloth. The cloth must be damped with warm water. After cleaning them, let them air dry.

· Rather than using dish soap, damp the paper towel or cloth with food-grade mineral oil as food-grade mineral oil is odorless and tasteless, and clean the mortar and pestle with that paper towel or cloth. Dish soap might get absorbed in mortar and pestle, and its scent will transfer to other foods. Oiling will also help to minimize the absorption of food scents.

· Another good way of cleaning a wood material mortar and pestle is to grind dry rice as it will absorb the smell of previously milled food. You can also use coarse salt and lemon to clean it.

What are Mortar and Pestles

A mortar is a deep bowl usually made with granite, marble, wood, while a pestle is a rounded club-shaped piece made of the same material as mortar. Mortar acts as a container in which different kinds of spices, vegetables, grains, etc., can be ground with the help of a pestle where it is rotated and pressed on the ingredient until the desired consistency is formed.

Mortar is a narrow and deep bowl instead of wide and shallow, making it look more like a cup than a bowl. Moreover, the mortars have rounded bottoms. This shape of mortar makes it easier to crush food with the help of a pestle.

The Shape of Mortar and Pestles

Historically, mortars and pestles have undergone various changes in size and shape depending upon their use. For example, chemists and pharmacists used to have small porcelain mortars and pestles, while in the Middle East, two to three feet wide mortars and pestles are used to pound meat. However, the basic design of mortar and pestle remains the same, i.e., a bowl and a club.

Things We Can Pulverize with Mortar and Pestles

We can pulverize almost anything and everything with Mortar and Pestles. Mostly these are used in houses where spices, vegetables, sauces can be made with them, but for many years, they’re also used in laboratories for grinding drugs. Old ladies used it for making face packs by milling natural ingredients like turmeric, cinnamon, banana, etc. Some famous dishes like hummus, pesto sauce, guacamole can also be made with the help of mortar and pestle.

It is said that real chefs use mortar and pestle to grind spices as it helps to keep the fresh aroma of spices.

Different Types of Mortar and Pestles

There are various types of mortars and Pestles available in the market. For example, granite, marble, wood, glass, agate, cast iron, Japanese earthen wear, volcanic rock, etc.

Granite Mortar and Pestles:

This kind is a very reliable and liked material for mortar and pestle in India and Thailand, as it makes the job easy. Spices and pastes can easily be grounded with this type of material due to its heaviness and hard base, and it doesn’t use much force and effort.

It’s easy to clean also, so our guide on how to clean a mortar and pestle will lead you in the right direction. It is best used for pulverizing hard peppercorn and coriander seeds. This is the most widely used material for mortar and pestle in South East Asia. I have seen granite mortar and pestle in our kitchen ever since I was a kid, and I can say it is the most durable type of mortar and pestle. It doesn’t break or rust easily, making it the best choice in the kitchen where motor and pestles are used frequently.

Marble Mortar and Pestles:

They are fantastic to grind spices or nuts, but the slippery surface makes it hard for dry ingredients to grind. It also requires more effort and is time-consuming. This is why using an electric nut chopper might be easier. It is best used for wet and soft ingredients. Marble mortars and pestles are considered to be long-lasting and nonporous.

Wood Mortar and Pestles:

Wood Mortar and Pestles are mostly used in the Mediterranean to crush spices and other ingredients. The only problem with this kind of Mortar and pestle is that it absorbs the smell and transfers it into other pastes or ingredients. For example, if you crushed garlic in the wooden mortar and pestle, the smell won’t go away even if you wash it several times.

Hardwood like acacia wood, olive wood, or even maple wood are all great contenders for the best wood mortar and pestle.

If you like a mixed flavor taste in your food, it might be a good option for you, but it may contaminate the food with bacteria left in the wood. Therefore, wood mortar and pestle are used by people who repeatedly use them for processing the same food or foods that do not have a strong odor. Learning how to clean a mortar and pestle that is wood is not an option, since it holds odors.

Ceramic Mortar and Pestles:

Chefs and cooks widely use it in Italy and Spain for making pestos and picada. People in Europe use ceramic mortar and pestle predominantly for foods with liquid ingredients. However, it also works best for processing garlic, nuts, herbs, and bread.

In Thailand, it is vastly used for making papaya salad. The rough surface of ceramic mortar makes it easier to crush ingredients to excellent powder; however, on the other hand, ceramic mortars and pestle can easily stain and become brittle.

Cast Iron Mortar and Pestles:

Cast Iron is heavy and long-lasting, making it a superior choice for pulverizing hard and fibrous ingredients. However, it requires a lot of maintenance and care, as it rusts easily. Moreover, cast iron pestle may damage the mortar and make its surface slippery to work with.

Japanese Earthenware Mortar and Pestles:

Japenese call it Suribachi. They use it to grind meat, tofu, and spices. It’s perfect for making sauces like pesto, herb-based pastes.

Volcanic rock Mortar and Pestles:

Used mostly by Mexicans, and its texture is too rough or too smooth depending upon the quality of sand used in making mortar and pestle.

I hope you found this guide on how to clean a mortar and pestle helpful. You can now clean your mortar and pestle with confidence.