Mortar and pestle are some of the most ancient kitchen gadgets used by our ancestors and us alike. They come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, but one thing is common about all of them. You need to clean them regularly to get the authentic taste of the food you grind inside them next time.
Cleaning a mortar and pestle isn’t that hectic though, you need to spend some time and effort to keep the mortar and pestle in great condition. Let’s get into the detail and know how to clean a mortar and pestle.
What is a Mortar and Pestle?
A mortar and pestle is a grinding tool where the mortar is a deep bowl with a rounded bottom inside. And a pestle has a club-like shape with rounded ends. These two are used in combination to grind spices, herbs, or food grains.
As both the bottom of the mortar and the pestle are rounded, you can pound whatever is inside the mortar with the pestle and grind them to fine or coarse powder or paste.
Though all of them perform similar functions, they are made of different materials. Let’s explore more on this.
What are Mortar and Pestle Made of?
Regardless of the size and shape, mortar and pestles can be made of granite, volcanic rock, ceramic, glass, porcelain, wood, bamboo, etc. Granite mortar and pestles are more commonly used as they are stronger than glass or wooden mortar and pestles.
You can crush hard spices like peppercorn or cinnamon in these mortar and pestles. Besides being durable, these are also easier to clean. Ceramic or porcelain mortar and pestles are fancier, but you need to take more care of those. We will get to that in a minute.
How to Clean a Mortar and Pestle?
The cleaning procedure isn’t the same for all mortar and pestles. Depending on the material it is made of, you need to clean it differently. Here’s a detailed breakdown of which cleaning method you should apply for each of these utensils.
How to Clean a Mortar and Pestle Made of Granite or Marble?
A granite or marble mortar and pestle will serve amazingly well as long as you clean them properly. The trick here is to wash them after every use so that they don’t catch stains. Once stained, it is very hard to remove from granite or marble mortar and pestles.
Follow these steps to properly clean your granite or marble mortar and pestles.
- Clean the mortar and pestle after every use. Wash them with warm water to clean all food debris and oily substances.
- Don’t use scented dish soap to clean the mortar and pestle. The scent can remain there and alter the taste of the food your grind.
- Take two to three spoons of rice into the mortar and grind it with the pestle. Rice is a natural scrubber that will also absorb any bad odor from the mortar and pestle.
- Thoroughly rinse the mortar and pestle with warm water to clean everything.
- You can air dry them but it will be better to use a clean cloth to pat them dry. Storing wet mortar and pestle can cause them to have water stains.
- Once completely dried, store them aside.
How to Clean a Mortar and Pestle Made of Glass or Ceramic?
Glass or ceramic mortar and pestles are more prone to damage than granite or marble mortar and pestles. So, you need to take extra care of them while cleaning.
Let’s see how you can clean them properly without damaging that artistic utensil.
- The first step in cleaning is to rinse the mortar and pestle with warm water. This will remove most food residues unless they are heavily stuck.
- You can use mild, unscented dish soap to clean glass or ceramic mortar and pestles. Take a clean scrubber and apply some dish soap onto it.
- Scrub the mortar and pestle separately to clean all residues. Don’t apply too much pressure while washing them. Also, be cautious so that they don’t slip off your hands. Breaking mortar or pestle while cleaning is a common incident.
- Rinse them again with warm water. Once they are properly cleaned, use a clean cloth to dry them properly.
How to Clean a Mortar and Pestle Made of Wood or Bamboo?
Caring wooden or bamboo mortar and pestles is a bit different from cleaning granite or ceramic utensils. You should never rinse wooden or bamboo mortar and pestles. Rather, follow the steps below to clean them thoroughly.
- After using them, take a paper towel or clean rag to remove all food residue from the mortar and pestle.
- Once everything is removed, take a damp cloth and wipe off the inside of the mortar. Do the same thing for the pestle. If they are too dirty, you can rinse the cleaning cloth from time to time. But don’t use water directly to rinse the mortar or pestle.
- Make sure you wipe both the mortar and pestle several times to clean them properly.
- Pat drying the mortar and pestle won’t work in this case. You need to air dry them in a dry and sunny place. Consider putting them on a drying rack and keeping the rack beside the window so that they dry completely.
- After drying, take some mineral oil on a clean rag or paper towel. Apply the oil evenly on the mortar and pestle and polish them a bit. This will maintain the shine of the utensils for longer.
FAQs On Mortar and Pestle
We would like to answer some of the frequently asked questions about cleaning mortar and pestles. Take a quick look to understand things better.
Is it Safe to Use a Granite Mortar and Pestle?
Yes, using a granite mortar and pestle is completely safe. But you need to season the mortar and pestle when you buy a new one. Otherwise, your ground items can have stone shavings.
Can you Put a Mortar and Pestle in the Dishwasher?
Some mortar and pestles might be dishwasher safe. But it will be better not to throw them inside the dishwasher. You should avoid using dish soap to clean mortar and pestles as they will leave a smell on the mortar and pestle.
You better follow our cleaning guide above to effectively clean different mortar and pestles.
Do I Need to Season a Marble Mortar and Pestle?
Yes, you need to season a marble mortar and pestle before using it for the first time. You won’t get a proper grounding surface until the inner surface of the mortar is rough.
What is the Safest Material for a Mortar and Pestle?
Granite or marble will be the safest material for a mortar and pestle that you use regularly. They are very heavy, so the grounding is easier with granite or marble. At the same time, they are quite durable and withstand a lot of abuse over the years.
Are Cast iron Mortar and Pestles any Good?
You can use cast iron mortar and pestles for coarse grinding. They are heavyweight and durable which might benefit you. But as they are porous, a lot of food residue will stick inside which is pretty difficult to clean.
Keeping your mortar and pestle clean is the prerequisite for getting the authentic taste of spices or herbs in your food every time. Though it takes a bit of time and muscle to grind ingredients, the taste will be much better than using a modern food processor.
You should never mistreat these utensils now that you know how to clean a mortar and pestle. Follow the steps we have mentioned to clean different mortar and pestles. And store them safely so that they can serve you in making delicious main courses or sides for years to come.