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July 08, 2024 3 min read

Mortar and pestles are used to grind spices for curries and spice mixes, mash up ginger and garlic, or grind chilies, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and more for marinades. When buying a brand new mortar and pestle, you need to season (also known as cure or curing) it first to remove any manufacturing residues. Before seasoning, always check the manufacturer's instructions since some might come pre-seasoned.


The Type of Mortar and Pestles that Need to Be Seasoned

 

granite mortar and pestle
Credit: Envato Elements/ wirestock

Generally, those that have a porous surface like granite, volcanic rock, ceramic, and basalt require seasoning to smooth out any rough surfaces and remove leftover grit from the manufacturing process.

On the other hand, stainless steel, glass, marble mortar and pestles usually do not require seasoning, as they are non-porous and don't hold onto residues or odors. Always check the product instructions to see if seasoning is necessary for your specific type. 


How to Season a Mortar and Pestle

 

hand crushing spices in a mortar and pestle
Credit: Envato Elements/ leungchopan

Here's the seasoning process for a new mortar and pestle:


Step 1: Clean It First

Start by cleaning your mortar (deep bowl) and pestle (club-shaped tool) with water and a stiff brush. Avoid using soap, as it can leave a residue that might affect the flavor of your food. Rinse everything thoroughly and let it dry completely before proceeding.


Step 2: Start Grinding with a Rice Paste

Grab a small handful of raw white rice (you need enough to make an even layer at the bottom) and grind it into the unseasoned mortar. Press firmly with the pestle and twist to grind rice to a fine powder. Discard the crushed rice and repeat this process two to three times, using fresh rice each time. Keep doing this until the rice grinds get white rather than gray.


Step 3: Create a Spice Paste

Next, make a thick paste using four garlic cloves, a teaspoon of coarse salt (like rock salt, sea salt, or kosher salt), and a handful of peppercorns. Grind everything together in the mortar. The garlic acts as an antibacterial agent, the salt is abrasive and smooths down the interior surface, and the peppercorns help to season and infuse the mortar and pestle with a flavor.


Step 4: Rinse and Scrub

Rinse the paste out with warm water and scrub the mortar and pestle again with a stiff brush. Remove all the garlic and salt to prevent any residual taste.


Step 5: Air Dry

Set your mortar and pestle aside to air dry completely. Be sure it's fully dry before storing it away or using it to prepare food. This will prevent any moisture from being trapped which could lead to mold or mildew.


Maintenance Tips

 

marble mortar and pestle
Credit: Envato Elements/ Irrin

To keep your mortar and pestle in top condition, follow these maintenance tips:


  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the surface of your mortar and pestle.
  • Store your mortar and pestle in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent discoloration or warping.
  • Periodically re-season your mortar and pestle to maintain its performance.

Tips for Using Your Mortar and Pestle

 

Granite mortar and pestle
Credit: Envato Elements/ Vell

Once your mortar and pestle are seasoned and ready for use, here are some tips to get the most out of them:


  • When grinding or mashing, start with small amounts of ingredients to prevent overcrowding the mortar.
  • Apply firm, downward pressure with the pestle and use a rolling motion to crush the ingredients.
  • Avoid using excessive force when grinding, as this can damage the mortar and pestle over time.

FAQs


Can I use any rice for seasoning?

Yes, any type of rice will work. However, white rice is a good option as it produces a fine powder when ground.


What should I do if my mortar and pestle starts to smell?

If you notice any lingering odors, grind a mixture of baking soda and water into a paste and use it to scrub the surfaces. Rinse well and let it air dry. This should help remove any smells.


Summary


Seasoning your mortar and pestle is a simple yet essential step to ensure optimal performance and longevity. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy flavorful and aromatic dishes for years to come.

Looking for a reliable mortar and pestle? Check out Pepe Nero’s range of high-quality granite mortar and pestles. They're perfect for chefs and home cooks. Shop with us today. 


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