Today we are going to talk about a kitchen instrument that is an ancient form of food preparation tool. The mortar pestle has been around for thousands of years or at least the concept has been. It’s mostly smashing one rock against another to grind and mix dry or wet ingredients and an extraordinarily fundamental and primal yet extremely effective process. It’s a great way to break down whole spices and other whole ingredients. Although food processors and blenders make it a lot easier, the mortar and pestle smash your spices, bursting the cells open and releasing all of their aromas. If you have not made pesto in a mortar and pestle before, it’s worth a try. For some recipes, the mortar, and pestle, even though is a bit of work, is just superior!
Mortars and pestles that are made of heavier robust materials like granite work best. Make sure to select a pestle that has a narrower holding area. It will help in providing a better grip and in turn, be less strenuous for your arm. Also, make sure that the surface of the mortar has a coarse texture. It also gives great support in the stone on the stone grinding process. For grinding small quantity ingredients like garlic or everyday spices, small-sized mortar and pestles are also available off the counter. Make sure to choose mortars with smaller openings and pestles with a broader base. This prevents small pieces like peppercorns or garlic from spilling out of it while grinding.
Let’s have a look at the proper way to use a mortar and pestle. First of all, you should start by slowly rotating the ingredients around using the pestle by loosely pressing in and pushing everything along the sides of the mortar. So by pushing the seed or your component around the edge of the bowl, you end up breaking it open. The goal here is by making this sort of continual circular motion you continue to break it down until it turns into a very fine powder. Or in the case of a wet ingredient, a finely ground paste. The more finely ground it gets, the easier it is to mix everything up. When you want to use a mortar and pestle this is the key technique that can be used. If you want to take anything that needs to be cracked open you, you must push it against the side of the bowl, twist it to smash it and then use a circular motion, pushing it around to get it to break down fully. As you continue to break it down move it at a slightly faster speed to achieve finely ground ingredients for your recipe.
A quick tip: We suggest that you don’t wash the mortar and pestle with soap because soap water might seep into its course surface making the next batch of ground ingredients smell soapy. Use plain water and a toothbrush to gently wipe around the mortar and pestle to get rid of the leftover particles. In case you notice large pores on the surface of the newly bought mortar and pestle, after cleaning it thoroughly, take some rice and grind vigorously in it making sure to work its way up to the sides. Once the rice turns into a powdery consistency, dump it out and repeat this process two more times. Follow this by grinding soaked rice into a fine paste by repeating it two more times as well. Through this curing process, the mortar and pestle surface will be noticeably smoother than before and should have almost no grit. There will also be white specks from the rice patching in some of its pores which is perfectly normal.
Some people prefer to season their newly bought grinding tool to infuse flavor on to it before starting to use it regularly. Take a few cloves with garlic, some green chilies, and some salt. Mash these ingredients together until it forms a paste. If needed, add more salt in order to thin out the mixture. Make sure to spread the seasoning paste throughout the base and sides of the mortar followed by letting it marinate. After this, thoroughly rinse the mortar pestle and set it aside to dry completely. This is an optional step however, we recommend you try this out to achieve maximum benefit. The curing and seasoning process adds to the smoothness of its surface making it look a bit more worn down. The natural oils that are released from the ingredients also add a darker color to the grinding surface.
So there you have it… the ultimate mashing tool in your kitchen. If you know how to correctly use a mortar and pestle, then with this amazing kitchen tool, in no time you will present a more flavourful gastronomic variant to your friends and family. The mortar and pestle are super effective and if you don’t have one in your household, we highly recommend getting one. It’s really useful and will definitely come in handy while trying to mix and grind spices and other flavourful ingredients in your kitchen. People who do not have a proper mortar and pestle for grinding, will get annoyed and end up switching on to blenders and processors instead. However, the bashing and muddling do the flavor trick!