How to Season A Wooden Mortar and Pestle the Right Way

A wooden mortar and pestle is a versatile and age-old kitchen tool that you can use for various tasks. These include mashing avocados, grinding spices or herbs, making pastes, and even crushing nuts. I actually prefer to crush hazelnuts nuts in my mortar and pestle as opposed to a manual nut chopper. and  If you want to get the best results from your mortar and pestle, it is necessary to season it properly.

A wooden mortar and pestle may have minuscule wood particles or splinters on the surface. Learning how to season a wooden mortar and pestle will help you remove some rough wooden edges. Curing and seasoning a wooden mortar and pestle is a must. Otherwise, you may end up with wood particles in your food.

Here’s how to season a wooden mortar and pestle:

Step 1

Use a soft scrub brush, mild soap, and water. Scrub your entire wooden mortar and pestle. Most wooden mortar and pestles are made with dense hardwood, so there should not be much expansion and contraction.

To dry the mortar and pestle thoroughly, use a paper towel or cloth. After thoroughly dry it, leave it in a place with good circulation overnight. We have plenty of tips on wooden mortar and pestle care.

Step 2

Take some plain white rice and grind it into the wooden mortar with your pestle. The rice should help make an abrasive surface on the wood that readily accepts the mineral oil. Use some muscle to grind the rice into the wood. Dump the first batch of ground rice, and add a few tablespoons of fresh rice. Repeat the rice grinding process all over again. Once you finish grinding the second batch of rice, take some paper towels and wipe away any grit or debris.

Step 3

Clean the wood again but this time with lemon and salt. You want your wooden mortar and pestle to be extremely clean and completely dry. I prefer to use a half lemon with coarse salt then wipe it clean and let it dry fully.

Step 4

Take wood wax or food-grade mineral oil and rub it all over the mortar and pestle. The last step for how to season a wooden mortar and pestle is the most important step. Use a little force and really rub and press the oil into the wood. If the wood is a little bit rough that’s ok, we want it to be rough and for the wood wax to smooth it out and soak into the wood. We love wood wax because it’s made with organic coconut oil and beeswax. However, it does have an orange essential oil in it, which may leave a smell on your mortar and pestle.

Although you would use the wood wax after you are done using your mortar and pestle and before you put it away. So by the time you take it out to use it again, the orange smell will have dissipated.

If you are concerned about the orange essential oil in the wood wax then just purchase plain old food-grade mineral oil. The mineral oil will work just as good and it does not have a strong odor.

After you have seasoned your mortar and pestle, it’s important to remember to do it once every few months. However, if you use your mortar and pestle every day and the wood dries out then just season it more often. How to season a wooden mortar and pestle varies for each kitchen, depending on how much you use your tool.

How to Season A Wooden Mortar and Pestle

Is seasoning a wood mortar and pestle the same as a granite?

The reason we season a wood mortar and pestle with mineral oil is so the wood does not dry out. The reasoning behind seasoning a granite mortar and pestle is completely different.

A porous granite or stone mortar and pestle will release particles of stone and grit into your food when you first use it. To prepare the surface of your new kitchen tool you must season it and clean these particles away. A wooden mortar and pestle do not have the same amount of grit as a stone mortar and pestle. However, it may have particles of rough wood that need to be smoothed out using our technique above.

Are Wood Mortar and Pestles Good?

Yes, wooden mortar and pestles are great. However, since they are made out of wood and not stone they are softer. Since they are softer they may not be able to handle the extreme grinding of hard spices.  Further, they are also more porous than stone, and the wood can absorb flavors and odors from whatever you grind.  If you plan on making garlic paste out of your mortar and pestle then you might want to consider a stone one.

Most people who use a wooden mortar and pestle on a regular basis have it dedicated to one task.

Things you can grind, mash, or pulverize in a wooden mortar and pestle. (however, the list is endless)

  • avocados
  • chili peppers
  • garlic
  • fruits
  • peppercorns (although if they are very hard you may want to use a granite or marble mortar and pestle)
  • herbal tea blends

How Long Does a Wooden Mortar and Pestle Last?

A wooden mortar and pestles can last years and years if properly cared for. If you use the mortar and pestle only occasionally then it may last a lifetime. However, if you use it on a daily basis then it will not last very long. Learning the proper wooden mortar and pestle care is another factor that will help extend the life of your grinder.

What Kind of Oil Should I Use to Season a Wooden Mortar and Pestle?

You will want to use an oil that does not go rancid. Food-grade mineral oil is the best choice. You can find food-grade mineral oil at most any grocery store or online.

Conclusion for How to Season A Wooden Mortar and Pestle

Seasoning a wooden mortar and pestle is an important step in keeping it well-maintained, but the process differs from seasoning a granite one. Learning how to season a wooden mortar and pestle is the important part. Wooden mortars and pestles should be treated with food-grade mineral oil or wood wax to avoid cracking or drying out over time. No matter where you are in the process of choosing your kitchen tools, we are here to help!