Why should you buy a mortar and pestle set?
The taste of freshly ground spices and herbs is hardly comparable to the shakers at your grocery store. While you may not use a mortar and pestle for every meal, it can make a favorite dish even better with the addition of fresh herbs or a custom spice blend. Food tends to taste better when you put more work and love into it, doesn’t it?
Mortar and pestle sets can be used for more than grinding spices and herbs. They’re also helpful when crushing up medicine to make it dissolve into food for kiddos or those who struggle swallowing pills. You can also whip up a killer batch of guacamole, pesto, or curry paste in a mortar and pestle. You can even grind your own flour in one, though that can be pretty labor-intensive if you want a large quantity. In the end, a mortar and pestle set can help you feel more involved in the cooking process and help you create super flavorful spice blends, sauces, or dips.
What should you consider when shopping for a mortar and pestle set?
- Size: Some mortar and pestle sets are smaller and mostly intended to use to crush herbs or pills. Others come in larger sizes, which allow you to make larger batches of your herbs or dips to share.
- Pestle Shape: The pestle is the club-like piece that you use inside the mortar to grind and stir. Most pestles are cylindrical in shape with a rounded top and bottom, making them easy to grip and roll around. Try to find one that looks comfortable to hold and use. Some handles may have indented grips to help you hang onto them more securely.
- Material: Mortar and pestle sets come in a variety of materials. Granite and basalt are often the more authentic options, but you can also find them in marble and stainless steel. Textured stone will need seasoning to keep dust and debris from coming into food, but that rough surface will remain and help to break down ingredients for your dishes.
What does it mean to season your mortar and pestle before use?
Much like a cast-iron skillet, a mortar and pestle set needs to be seasoned before use. Since many mortar and pestles are made from a rough finish of granite, marble, or basalt, they need to be seasoned so that dust and debris from the material don’t get into your food. You can do this in one of two ways:
- Grind raw rice, one handful at a time, until the powder is completely white and free of debris.
- Use a bit of warm water and grind the pestle around the mortar.
For either method, you will dump out each batch until what you see is free of debris. This process can take a while but varies on how rough the material is.
HiCoup Mortar and Pestle Set
This premium set stands up to versatile use and is easy to clean.
Pros: This non-porous granite and stone set is gorgeous to display and doesn’t hang onto smell or flavor after each use. Enjoy the enhanced taste of freshly ground spices and herbs, or mix and serve homemade dips and sauces. The weight of the mortar and pestle is heavy enough so that it doesn’t slide around during use.
Cons: This set requires seasoning before use, which is expected, but the texture is not as smooth as it looks in pictures. The mortar is too small to use as a serving dish for a large crowd.
Bottom Line: While this mortar and pestle set is a bit heavy and clunky, its weight is highly effective in helping to grind herbs and spices for your favorite dishes. The bowl is nice enough to double as a serving dish for a night in with your significant other. To get the most out of this premium set, season it according to the instructions and wash it with soap and water between uses.
Tera 18/8 Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle with Brush
This set gives you all the fun and flavor from grinding without the unwanted dust or residue.
Pros: This set is made from food-grade stainless steel, so you can be sure that everything you crush, grind, or mix in this bowl remains safe for human consumption. The stainless steel material means it is rustproof and won’t be damaged when used with acidic foods like lemons or vinegar. In addition to the mortar and pestle, this set also comes with a brush to help you get powdered residue off of the steel grooves. It’s also a helpful tool to use right before washing. This set even comes with a lid that has a cut-out for the pestle to keep fine powders or herbs from spilling over the mortar’s edge. There is a pad on the bottom to help it stay in place during use.
Cons: This is a smaller set and can’t be used for mixing large quantities.
Bottom Line: This mortar and pestle set fulfills several versatile needs in the kitchen since it’s heavy-duty and easy to clean. It comes with everything you need to crush pills or grind herbs easily. While it does these jobs very well, it can’t handle large quantities since it’s on the smaller side.
Vasconia 4-Cup Granite Molcajete Mortar and Pestle
Serve your best freshly-made party dip for a crowd with this mortar and pestle set.
Pros: If you tend to need large quantities of your freshly ground herbs or your made-to-order guacamole, this set might be perfect for you. It can hold 4 cups of ingredients while you mix or mash, so you don’t have to portion out ingredients to do it several times. The unique shape of the pestle allows you to be comfortable and effective while grinding and mixing.
Cons: This set is quite heavy and may pose difficulty for some people to use.
Bottom Line: This mortar and pestle set is an eye-catching piece that can not only grind or mix large quantities of ingredients but can also double as a serving dish for a crowd. Just keep in mind that the size makes it heavy to use and clean.
Greenco White Marble Mortar and Pestle
The rough interior and smooth exterior provide the best of both worlds when it comes to using a mortar and pestle.
Pros: This marble mortar and pestle set has a sleek and modern look while still performing according to tradition. The smooth exterior is both comfortable to hold and easy to clean. It’s a beautiful set to display when you’re not using it. On the interior surface of the mortar, the marble is unfinished and rough, providing the perfect surface for crushing and mixing herbs and spice mixes.
Cons: This set is on the smaller side, making it most useful for spices and herbs rather than dips. The ridges on the interior are quite large and require an additional tool for getting every bit of spice or herb.
Bottom Line: If you want to crush up your own fresh herbs to make spice blends, this is an excellent option. Its small size won’t take up much space when it’s not in use, and the natural rough interior makes homemade spice mixes or dips super easy.
Cooler Kitchen EZ-Grip Silicone & Porcelain Mortar and Pestle
This mortar and pestle set is dishwasher safe and has a fantastic grip.
Pros: If the idea of seasoning or careful maintenance makes you nervous, turn to this modernized option. This mortar and pestle set is made of high-quality porcelain that is non-porous and dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. The pestle has silicone for comfort and a nonslip grip. The base of the mortar has silicone as well to keep it from sliding. Grind and crush spices, seeds, or pills with this convenient set.
Cons: While this is the perfect size for small ingredients or quantities, you won’t be able to do a large batch or quantity of spices and dips. Seasoning is still recommended, and it’s not as heavy-duty as other options.
Bottom Line: This set is an excellent option for someone looking for convenience. The porcelain and silicone materials remove a lot of nerves and guesswork for beginners but deliver on the benefits. This is a nice choice if you plan to occasionally use a mortar and pestle for crushing herbs and medicine, but it won’t hold up as well to heavy and frequent grinding.
Adding a mortar and pestle to your kitchen cookware can enhance the flavors of your favorite meals. Whether you mix up your favorite dips for a party or grind your own spices for an intimate dinner, a mortar and pestle set is versatile and fun to use. Check out our suggestions to elevate your cooking.