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April 18, 2023 7 min read


Step into any kitchen around the world, and you're likely to find a mortar and pestle sitting on the countertop or tucked away in a cupboard. While it may seem like a simple tool, the mortar and pestle has been used for centuries for a variety of tasks beyond just grinding herbs and spices. From making pesto and spices to crushing pills and making perfume, this versatile kitchen essential has a wide range of uses that you may not have even considered. In this blog, we'll explore the many practical and creative ways you can put your mortar and pestle to use and unlock its full potential.

In this blog, we'll explore the many practical and creative ways you can put your mortar and pestle to use and unlock its full potential.


The Culinary Uses of a Mortar and Pestle


 mortar and pestle with spices

Credit: Envato Elements/ SteveAllenPhoto999


Looking for versatile ways to use your mortar and pestle while cooking in the kitchen? Here are a few ideas:


1) Use It to Make Pesto and Curry Paste


If you want to create mouth-watering pesto or curry paste bursting with flavor, a mortar and pestle is a must-have kitchen tool. With this tool, you have a remarkable level of control over the end product, enabling you to attain your desired texture and flavor profile. This level of control is made possible by the gradual breakdown of ingredients through the grinding process, which allows you to adjust the coarseness level to match your preference. 


2) Use It to Crush Garlic and Ginger


Using a mortar and pestle to crush garlic and ginger is an excellent way to fully bring out their flavors. While there are modern kitchen tools available for this task, the traditional method can produce a more fragrant and flavorful outcome that can truly elevate your dish. This is because the manual crushing and blending of the ingredients help to release their natural oils and flavors, resulting in a more intense and complex taste that can be truly impressive.


3) Use It to Smash Candy


Crushed hard candy can be a valuable ingredient in many baking and pastry recipes, but breaking them up with modern tools like food processors can be difficult and may even damage the blades. However, by using a mortar and pestle, you can quickly crush these ingredients into the desired texture without any damage to your kitchen gadgets.


4) Use it to Crush Croutons and Bread Crumbs 


If you need to break down croutons or bread crumbs into finer pieces to use in your recipes, a mortar and pestle can be a great option. By using this tool to crush them, you can easily transform large pieces of bread into small and uniform crumbs that are perfect for breading, stuffing, or adding to meatballs. This technique is not only effective but also adds a satisfying tactile element to the cooking process.


5) Use It to Mash Fruits and Vegetables


When it comes to mashing soft fruits and vegetables like avocados, tomatoes, and berries for making dips such as guacamole or salsa, a mortar and pestle can be a valuable tool. This technique allows you to avoid over-processing or damaging the ingredients, which helps to preserve their natural texture and color. As a result, you can create a delicious dip with an authentic and fresh taste. 


6) Use It to Make Salad Dressings


If you're looking for a more traditional and hands-on approach to making salad dressings or vinaigrettes, consider using a mortar and pestle. This age-old tool allows you to crush fresh herbs and blend them to create a delectable and aromatic dressing that perfectly complements your salad ingredients. 


7) Use It to Grind Coffee Beans


If you enjoy a more rustic approach to making coffee, you may find that using a mortar and pestle to grind your coffee beans into a fine powder is a great option. Compared to electric grinders, which can be noisy and may produce heat that can alter the flavor of the coffee, using a mortar and pestle is a much quieter and gentler process. Plus, it can be a fun and satisfying activity to take part in, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the process of making your morning cup of joe.


8) Use It to Grind Nuts and Seeds


When it comes to grinding nuts and seeds, a food processor or other tools may not always deliver the desired texture. But with a mortar and pestle, you can achieve this by crushing the nuts and seeds against the mortar's rough surface with the pestle. 


Non-Culinary Uses of a Mortar and Pestle


 mortar and pestle with flowers

Credit: Envato Elements/ Olena_Mykhaylova


If you thought your mortar and pestle were just for grinding spices and making sauce, think again! This handy kitchen instrument has a variety of uses beyond cooking. Here are some non-culinary uses for your mortar and pestle:


1) Use It to Crush Ice


The mortar and pestle is a reliable tool for crushing small quantities of ice into manageable pieces that can be used for creating ice packs. Thanks to its sturdy design and efficient grinding mechanism, this tool is highly effective and enables you to crush the ice with ease, while also preventing it from melting too quickly, as opposed to other techniques.


2) Use It to Make Natural Dyes


If you're looking to incorporate natural dyes into your fabric or textile projects, using a mortar and pestle can be an effective method for grinding plant materials. By carefully crushing and pulverizing these natural sources, you can release their pigments and create vibrant, eco-friendly dyes that are safe for you and the environment.


3) Use It to Make Beauty Products


A mortar and pestle can prove to be a useful tool in concocting personalized beauty products like face masks, scrubs, and lotions. By skillfully grinding natural ingredients, you can create an extensive range of beauty products that do not contain any harsh chemicals or artificial preservatives.


4) Use It to Crush Pills


If you find it challenging to swallow pills, a practical solution is to use a mortar and pestle to grind the medication into a fine powder. This process will enable you to mix the powder with food or drink, making it easier to consume the prescribed dosage of medication without any discomfort or distress.


5) Use It to Grind  Herbs and Spices for Medicinal Purposes 


Herbs and spices have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, tracing back to ancient times. These natural remedies were used to alleviate a diverse array of health issues, ranging from minor ailments to more severe conditions. Although we're no longer in the ancient era, the practice of using herbs and spices in healthcare remains relevant and can be adopted as a natural means to maintain one's health.


6) Use It to Mix Pigments for Painting and Art 


If you have a passion for art, then you might enjoy using a mortar and pestle to grind pigments. By doing so, you can combine them with a binding agent to create unique paints with personalized colors and textures. This process gives you the freedom to experiment with various pigment combinations, leading to a limitless range of unique hues and finishes that are not available commercially.


7) Use It to Create Incense and Perfumes 


Grinding herbs and flowers is a crucial step in the production of incense and perfumes as it enhances the aroma and makes the fragrance more potent. By using a mortar and pestle for this purpose, you can ensure that the fragrance is evenly dispersed throughout the mixture, leading to a more consistent and long-lasting scent.


8) Use It to Crush and Grind Minerals


Mortar and pestles have a wide range of practical uses that extend beyond beauty and medicinal contexts. They also play a vital role in scientific and industrial fields. These tools are particularly useful for crushing and grinding minerals into small particles which can then be used for a variety of applications by different industries.


How to Clean and Maintain Your Mortar and Pestle


 dark mortar and pestle

Credit: Envato Elements/ klenova


To maintain the effectiveness and prolong the lifespan of mortar and pestles, it's crucial to keep them cleanand well-maintained. Below are some useful tips:


  • Clean It After Each Use: After each use, use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to remove any residue or debris from your mortar and pestle. Avoid using soap or other harsh cleaners, as these can damage the surface of the tool.
  • Use Natural Cleaners: If you need to remove stubborn stains or odors from your mortar and pestle, try using natural cleaners like baking soda or vinegar. Simply mix a small amount of the cleaner with water and use a brush to scrub the surface of the tool.
  • Avoid Soaking Your Mortar and Pestle Set: Do not soak your mortar and pestle in water, as this can cause the material to absorb moisture and potentially crack or break. 
  • Season Your Mortar and Pestle: Some materials, like stone or clay, may require seasoning to prevent flavors from being absorbed into the surface of the tool. To season your mortar and pestle, grind a small amount of white rice in the tool until it becomes a fine powder. Discard the powder, and repeat the process until the powder remains white. This will help to create a non-stick surface and prevent flavors from being absorbed into the material.
  • Store It Properly: When not in use, store your mortar and pestle in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture and dust from accumulating on the surface of the tool.




Overall, a mortar and pestle is a versatile tool that can be used in many different ways in the kitchen and beyond. Its simple design and ease of use make it a must-have for any home cook or DIY enthusiast.

And for the ultimate mortar and pestle experience, consider Pepe Nero's granite mortar and pestle. Crafted from premium materials, it's perfect for grinding, crushing, and blending spices, herbs, and more. Plus, its sleek design will make it a beloved addition to your kitchen or workspace. Try Pepe Nero's granite mortar and pestle today and take your culinary and creative endeavors to the next level!

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