Shopping for the best mortar and pestle
A mortar and pestle buying guide
A mortar and pestle is one of those efficient kitchen gadgets that cooking enthusiasts should have readily available. They are considered to be home supplies that you can use for preparing different types of meals, from cracking peppercorns at the dinner table, to crushing fresh herbs to make your favorite pesto, guacamole or gazpacho.
>> What will you use it for?
Thinking about your current and future food preparation needs is a good place to start when deciding the best mortar and pestle to buy. One of the main mortar and pestle uses is grinding and crushing dry goods like grains, pulses and spices. You can also pound vegetables and fruits to make sauces and paste. Other mortar and pestle functions involve grinding herbs like oregano and basil, or reducing small amounts of meat and fish into pulp or pastes. Some mortal and pestle products are specifically designed for certain food preparation, so you should try and find one that is right for your specific needs.
>> Consider the size
The best mortar and pestle to add to your kitchen gadget sets is one that can easily hold everything you need to mix at once. However, keep in mind that you'll likely want to keep your mortar and pestle stored somewhere out of the way when not in use. As such, be sure that it is also small enough to be stored easily.
>> Consider the shape
Even though mortar and pestle designs come in different sizes and are made from different types of materials, when considering the best mortar and pestle, remember that the shape remains the same--the mortar will be deep and round in order to keep the ingredients from popping out or spilling. To get the most use out of your new mortar and pestle, consider one with a stable, gently rounded base and a wider pestle, to make it easier to catch the ingredients underneath it during any food preparation.
>> Consider the different types of mortar and pestles
Mortar and pestle uses will vary depending on which type you use. The three main styles are:
Traditional: These unique mortar and pestles can be as large as two to three feet and are usually used in Southeast Asian cuisine for crushing spices and preparing different day to day foods.
Modern: If you are considering the best mortar and pestle for a modern kitchen, look for those with smooth and clean surfaces. Although they are contemporary in design, they still have a great mortar and pestle function like the traditional models. Their smoother design means that they are known for being water-resistant which makes them the perfect tool to make sauces from ingredients that usually have a high liquid content, for example, fruits and vegetables, or to make sauces with ingredients where you can add liquid.
Olive wood: This mortar and pestle design has a better feel than those made of stone, is lighter and you can add more pressure while grinding and pounding on the ingredients without the pestle slipping from your hands. They are attractive and look great in a rustic decor kitchen and would go well when displayed with traditional cookware sets. The most popular function for olive wood designs is to crush dry ingredients, because ingredients with liquid tend to be absorbed into the wood. Wood also has antibacterial properties, so cleaning and long-term care is therefore quite easy.
>> Consider the materials
When considering the best mortar and pestle, remember to look for materials that are reasonably heavy and hard as they will make it easy to prepare your foods and will be easier to clean because they are not too smooth or slippery.
The different types of food preparation you can do are ultimately influenced by the materials used. For example, look for those that are hard enough to crush the ingredients you are preparing. Also, for light crushing of spices such as salt and pepper and soft herbs at the dinner table, look for materials such as hardwoods from old grape vines or bamboo. Stone materials such as molcajete, marble or granite with rougher surfaces, are the best for crushing dry ingredients such as grains, pulses and spice, because they can absorb and catch the ingredients being crushed.
The most used function for models made from ceramic is to crush ingredients to very fine powders. You can also buy a mortar and pestle made of porcelain. A lot of them will have been made ready for use by grinding sand to give them a rougher surface which makes it easier to crush ingredients without them slipping or popping from the mortar. If you will be using a lot of liquids in your food preparation, consider glass models. Even when used with cookware products, they are stain-resistant and very easy to clean. Additionally, cool mortar and pestles, kitchen and dining products and cookware and bakeware made of ceramic, porcelain and glass are an elegant addition to a modern kitchen.
Other materials that are also used include steel, iron, brass and basalt. To extend the use of a metal mortar and pestle design, always keep it lightly oiled before and after use. Wooden designs are generally maintained by grinding uncooked rice. You will know it is clean when the rice is completely white and in powder form. If you prefer to buy models made of different types of stone, check with the manufacturer beforehand as to how you should season it before use.