What is a Mortar and Pestle?
If you like to cook, you may be looking for the best mortar and pestle. The Laveo Mortar and Pestle Set Granite is the best mortar and pestle since it is meant to be used no matter which side is up. You may also just flip your pestle so that you can use either end for pounding.
A mortar is basically a stand-alone bowl made out of a tough substance. On the other hand, a pestle is a club-like tool that fits within the interior of the mortar bowl itself.
We have also asked ourselves before, “What kind of mortar and pestle is best?” We’ve been cooking for quite some time, and some of the best dishes we’ve encountered do require the use of a reliable mortar and pestle.
The History of Mortars and Pestles
Mortars and pestles have been around for centuries. The oldest known reference to mortars and pestles is an Ancient Egyptian papyrus document dating to 1550 B.C. Over time, other cultures have also been known to use mortars and pestles for food preparation and cosmetic formulation.
Aside from food preparation and cosmetic formulation, pharmacists have also been dependent on mortars and pestles for breaking down medicine into powder form. This is still being done in modern times.
You would think, though, that modern culinary innovations like blenders and food processors would push aside the mortar and pestle. But no, far from it. Many people, such as chefs and pharmacists, would rather use a regular mortar and pestle instead. Experienced home cooks also carry on the mortar pestle tradition since these are more thorough at crushing ingredients.
The Proud Italian’s Mortar and Pestle Buying Guide
If you intend to look for your own mortar and pestle set, it pays to have some parameters to the search. This may mean being quite picky and not settling for the cheapest one you can buy.
The truth is, there are some common factors you should bear in mind as you shop around.
Durability is one significant factor since you don’t want your pestle pounding chips off the mortar bowl mid-way through kitchen duties. The pestle should also not chip despite prolonged usage.
The entire mortar should be heavy enough to keep itself grounded on the table as you use the pestle. This means you won’t be losing time looking for another mortar and pestle, especially if your dish requires labor-intensive mashing of multiple ingredients.
Make sure that the pestle’s rounded end (the one used for pounding) is large enough to make each strike against an ingredient count. Don’t accept a pestle that’s too narrow since it will make your task of crushing ingredients that much more difficult. At the same time, the mortar bowl should be big enough to accommodate a reasonable volume of ingredients.
Both the mortar and the pestle should be easy to clean. You also want your mortar and pestle to be presentable if you intend to display them on your kitchen shelf. In addition, think of the cost. The mortar and pestle don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to purchase yet should be economically priced too.
Material the Pestle and Mortar are Made From
You don’t want either the mortar bowl or the pestle to disintegrate as you use them. Some materials, like marble and granite, are more durable than others. This is why these are more desirable for the kitchen.
Stone mortars may be the most durable, but stainless steel or wood may also be better for specific purposes. For example, a stone pestle can be pretty tiring to use repeatedly due to the weight. Using the lighter pestles made from stainless steel or wood can make pounding tasks less fatiguing.
However, a wooden pestle and mortar may absorb the taste of certain ingredients. This may mean that future use of that set should be confined to those ingredients only. This way, you will avoid mixing current ingredients with others which may clash when you need to use them only for cooking, cosmetic, or medicinal applications.
Size of Both Pestle and Mortar
The size of the pestle and the mortar bowl may also contribute to success in food, medicine, or cosmetic applications. You want a pestle that fits nicely in your grip but is big enough to fit within the mouth of the mortar bowl. This is why some people prefer large pestle and mortar instead.
If a child will be using the mortar pestle set, you may use a smaller and lighter pestle. But the mortar itself could be adult-sized.
In some cases, a small mortar can be more desirable, such as breaking down herbs and spices. The value of a small mortar is you can target minor ingredients with more accuracy. To maximize this advantage, you may opt to use a more extensive pestle. As long as the pestle’s round end can fit into the mouth of the mortar bowl, you’re good to go.
It is also preferable to use a small mortar and pestle if you’re just cooking a small volume of food. You’ll find it easier to wash a small mortar and pestle, especially if you’re in a hurry. And, of course, you will find a small mortar pestle set less problematic to store after each day’s cooking session.
Other Features of the Pestle and Mortar
The mortar itself should have a sizable round bowl shape so that there are no corners where food, cosmetic, or pill fragments can nestle into. This makes it easier to scoop out the ingredients after pounding.
At the same time, the interior of the mortar bowl ought to be unpolished so that the rough surface will contribute to the disintegration of the ingredients. The round interior of a mortar bowl is also easier to clean since it has no corners.
However, if the mortar is quite heavy, you should be cautious about lifting it because it can do some real damage if you accidentally drop it on your foot or someone else’s foot. If it lands on the floor, it can also break parts of tiles or even concrete. So you need to be extra cautious using a large, heavy mortar.
How to Use a Mortar and Pestle
Even though your mortar and pestle may seem heavy, practically anyone can use these without any special training. You just pick up the pestle, put your ingredients within the mortar bowl, and start pounding the ingredients until they’re broken up.
Even children can be trusted to use a mortar and pestle capably, as long as the pestle is light enough for their hands to use. However, be sure that the mortar itself is on a sturdy surface that can tolerate the impact of the repeated pounding without breaking.
Some may worry that the mortar may fall from the table or kitchen counter and injure the child using the mortar bowl and pestle on that surface. If so, spread a clean paper on the floor so the child can sit and pound on the mortar there. That way, there is no risk of the mortar falling on the child or anyone else’s feet.
When you use a mortar pestle set, you should ensure that the pestle and mortar bowl are both dry. This is especially true if the ingredients you put in, such as medical pills, need to stay dry even after pounding.
Grasp the pestle with your dominant hand. Some pestles obviously have a handle so that your hand won’t slip as you pound. You will also notice that the pestle will have one end well-rounded – that is the part that has to strike directly on the ingredients within the mortar bowl. Use your other hand to keep the mortar steady.
Start pounding on the ingredients gently at the start since you need to test how hard each element is. Also, you shouldn’t hit on a tricky component, such as garlic, so that it goes flying out of the mortar bowl. If the ingredients just need a gentle pounding, your hand won’t get tired as quickly.
It is generally a good idea to put hard ingredients into the mortar bowl first. That way, you’re fresh and will have more strength to start heavy-duty pounding. Have a plate nearby where you can put these hard ingredients after you’ve crushed them. You may want to have some clean paper towels nearby for wiping down the mortar bowl after each element is well-pounded.
It is also an excellent idea to have at least two mortar pestle sets in your kitchen, especially if you live with other people in the same house. The same holds true if you often have visitors like friends and family dropping by on special occasions. This is because you will need help from at least one other person if the meal is sizable and composed of different dishes. So it pays to have a spare.
At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Mortars and Pestles
This may be your first time to see our best mortar and pestle reviews. We have listed here their mortar pestle names, with the first being the best overall. We hope you agree that these are the best mortar and pestle for specific uses.
- The Laevo Granite Mortar and Pestle Set Granite (Best Overall Mortar and Pestle Set)
- The Gorilla Grip Heavy Duty, Unpolished, Granite Mortar and Pestle Set (Best for the Heavy-duty Pounding of Ingredients)
- The Sagler Mortar and Pestle (Best for Moderate Crushing of Ingredients)
- Tera 18/8 Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle with Brush (Best for Pulverizing Medicine Pills)
- DecorRack Bamboo Mortar and Pestle (Best for Breaking Down Herbs and Spices)
- Black Carved Brass Mortar and Pestle Set (Best for the Very Light Crushing Task)
The Laevo Granite Mortar and Pestle Set Granite (Best Overall Mortar and Pestle Set)
Amazon’s Choice in Mortar and Pestle by Laevo
- Material it’s made from: Heavyweight 100% granite
- Available Sizes: 5.5 x 5.5 x 3.5 inches (13.97 cm x 13.97 cm x 8.89 cm)
- Warranties and guarantees where applicable: Carries a risk-free warranty. You may receive a refund
- Materials it can grind: Spices, herbs, salt, coffee beans, pills
- Design: It features a double-sided mortar bowl and double-use ends of pestle
- Capacity: 2.2 cups (17 ounces)
- Effort: May require strong hands, especially for subsequent pounding tasks
- Noise level: May be annoying to hear pounding after awhile
- Our star rating out of 5: 4.8 stars out of 5 total
- Weight: 7.17 lbs. (4.255 kg)
- What we liked: It gives good value for money due to durability.
- What we didn’t like: It can be too tiring to use if you have weak hands or wrists. It can also be a challenge for people with a disability or seniors to use it regularly
- Available colors: Grey only
- Ease of cleaning: Effortless to clean with warm running water. Never use soap.
- Any additional accessories: Silicone lid that doubles as a placemat for mortar. Wooden spoon.
- Does it leave a mess? May slide around while being used so ingredients could spill.
- Is assembly needed? No assembly required.
The significant part about this granite mortar and pestle set is that it seems durable enough to last a lifetime even when used daily. It is also reasonably easy to use. The fact that it is a dual-purpose mortar pestle set adds to its appeal. All you have to do is either flip the mortar bowl or the pestle, depending on how many and what kind of ingredients you need to pound.
However, it would have been great if the pestle itself were lighter because, as it is, it might be too heavy for some users, such as women and children.
If you intend to use this product strictly for kitchen use, it is advisable to season the pestle and the mortar bowl by grinding rice first. Then, to clean it after, just rinse with warm water only. You should refrain from using soap since the soapy taste may remain and taint future ingredients when grinding.
The double-purpose mortar is intriguing because you can choose between the deep mortar bowl or the shallow mortar bowl. However, you have to be careful with the shallow bowl because your ingredients can be catapulted off the bowl if you pound too hard. You may find the double-purpose pestle a tad unwieldy, too, due to the weight balance of the two ends.
That being said, this is an excellent product. It has a natural grey stone color which is rather appealing, even if all you want it for is to stash it on your dining room or kitchen shelf as decor.
It also comes with its silicone lid and wooden spoon, plus it doesn’t need assembly.
The Gorilla Grip Heavy Duty, Unpolished, Granite Mortar and Pestle Set (Best for the Heavy-duty Pounding of Ingredients)
- Material it’s made from: Granite stone
- Available sizes: Small only. 6.77 x 6.77 x 6.65 inches (17.19 cm x 17.19 cm x 16.901 cm)
- Materials it can grind: Herbs, spices, nuts
- Design: Deep mortar bowl. Mortar and pestle made out of unpolished granite
- Capacity: 2.1 cups (17 ounces)
- Effort: Pestle does take effort to use repeatedly
- Noise level: Can be annoying due to monotonous thumping by pestle
- Our star rating out of 5: 4.8 out of 5 stars
- Weight: 4.38 lbs. (1988.52 kg)
- What we liked: Perfect for heavy-duty and prolonged use
- Available colors: Grey
- Ease of cleaning: Wash only under running water. Never use soap
It would have been nice if this product also had an adequate warranty. But even if it doesn’t, it does seem reasonably durable. It’s supposed to be heavy enough to grind nuts with, aside from herbs and spices. However, the pestle could be a bit on the heavy side if the person using it has relatively weak hands or wrists or perhaps has a previous carpal tunnel injury.
Another potential problem is that the mortar is so heavy. You could accidentally scratch your kitchen counters or similar surfaces as you pound on ingredients within the mortar bowl. You could buy an optional foam bottom for this or simply put a folded kitchen towel underneath the mortar to absorb the force without diminishing the pounding on the content.
Still, this set is a design-friendly natural-looking gray tone which makes it eye-catching even while it’s in storage in your kitchen or dining room. You won’t need to assemble any parts. But you will need to season it first before use. Just make sure you only use fresh water to clean it with – never use soap. Otherwise, future ingredients will taste soapy and ruin your dish.
The Sagler Mortar and Pestle (Best for Moderate Crushing of Ingredients)
- Material it’s made from: Marble
- Available sizes: 4.5 x 4.5 x 2 inches (or 114.3 cm x 114.3 cm x 5.08 cm for mortar), 4.2 inches (or 10.668 cm for pestle)
- Materials it can grind: Garlic, herbs, spices, peppercorns, cinnamon, nuts, grains, seeds, medical pills
- Design: Unpolished white marble mortar and pestle
- Capacity: 3 ounces (85.05 grams)
- Effort: Not so much effort is needed since pestle is light enough
- Noise level: Pestle can be noisy when it hits the mortar bowl during pounding
- Our star rating out of 5: 4.6 out of 5 stars
- Weight: 2.31 lbs (1.04874 kg)
- What we liked: Mortar and pestle have clean lines. An unpolished marble mortar bowl contributes to the more effortless crushing of ingredients. In addition, it is easily rinsed to clean preparatory to storage.
- What we didn’t like: The sound emitted when the marble pestle hits the marble mortar bowl can be annoying after a while. Also, the mortar could leave scratch marks on the counter or other surface where the mortar rests if you pound too hard.
- Available colors: White with grey streaks
- Ease of cleaning: Very easy to clean after use
- Does it leave a mess?: Easy to clean up after every use. The mortar bowl should be air-dried so that it can be used to crush medicine pills later on.
- Is assembly needed?: None needed.
The first thing you will notice about this white and gray marble product is that it simply looks great. This makes it ideal to be displayed on your kitchen shelf.
But the mortar is at risk of cracking if you accidentally pound too hard with the marble pestle. Marble can also break if dropped on a more rigid surface. So you should reserve this product for softer pounding tasks and refrain from using it for complex objects.
It is advisable to wash this mortar pestle set with water (never use soap) even before you start using it the first time. For subsequent cleaning, warm water is all you need. If you like, you can wash it under running water only so that you’re sure it will be clean enough to use again.
No assembly is required for this product. Since the pestle is also made of marble, it can be light enough for users with weak hands. This could be a suitable first-time mortar pestle set for your children if they want to help with meal preparation duties.
Tera 18/8 Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle with Brush (Best for Pulverizing Medicine Pills)
Amazon’s Choice in Mortar & Pestles by Tera
- Material it’s made from: Food-grade 18/8 stainless steel
- Available sizes: 3.9 x 3.6 x 3.3 inches (9.906 cm x 9.144 cm x 8.382 cm)
- Warranties and guarantees where applicable: Lifetime warranty
- Materials it can grind: Medical pills, herbs, and spices
- Design: Rustproof food-grade stainless steel
- Capacity: 250 ml.(1 cup)
- Effort: Very light pestle, so there’s little effort in pounding
- Noise level: When pounding starts can be noisy, especially when contents are hard such as nuts. Less noisy when contents are soft such as herbs and spices.
- Our star rating out of 5: 4 out of 5 stars
- Weight: 1.87 lbs
- What we liked: This stainless steel mortar bowl and pestle do not retain the odors and taste of previously used ingredients. It is safe to use even with acidic ingredients.
- What we didn’t like: It may not be as effective when pounding hard ingredients such as nuts compared to beating soft elements such as herbal leaves and spices. The mortar bowl tends to be a bit slippery, so ingredients slide around.
- Available colors: Metallic and shiny grey
- Ease of cleaning: Requires rinsing with water only, unless oily ingredients were mixed in mortar bowl. That would require mild dishwashing liquid to remove oils and then rinsing well with water.
- Any additional accessories: Small brush, suitable for removing powder of crushed pills. Translucent lid to prevent ingredients from flying out of mortar bowl.
- Does it leave a mess?: None
- Is assembly needed? None
This product could be the right one for those looking for a mortar pestle set for children or teenagers. Both the mortar and the pestle are lightweight so that it’s easy to use by those with weaker hands and arms or if you have a disability. In addition, you can readily use this for light substances.
However, it can be harder to use for more complex substances like garlic. The smooth interior of the mortar bowl also makes it hard to pin down ingredients for pounding. The elements just slide around. So that’s one of the cons of this kind of product.
On its own, the mortar pestle product has nice lines and an appealing stainless steel grey color. So if you’d like to display this in your dining room, it will undoubtedly attract attention. No assembly is required. To keep it looking nice, simply wash with water after use. No soap is usually needed for this unless you happened to put oily ingredients in it.
You might also be pleased to know that this product is made from rustproof food-grade stainless steel. This makes it resistant to food acids, plus it doesn’t retain odors or stains on its surface. In addition, the mortar comes with a transparent plastic lid to prevent substances from escaping. It also comes with a small brush making it useful when you grind medicine into powder.
DecorRack Bamboo Mortar and Pestle (Best for Breaking Down Herbs and Spices)
- Material it’s made from: Bamboo wood for both mortar and pestle
- Available sizes: 5.5 inches (or 13.97 cm for pestle), 4 x 2.5 inches (or 10.16 cm x 6.35 cm for mortar)
- Materials it can grind: Herbs, spices, garlic, pepper, nuts, fruits, supplements, vanilla
- Design: Light brown bamboo wood with a nice smooth finish
- Effort: Pestle is light, so that makes it easy to pound on ingredients.
- Noise level: Quiet and not annoying
- Our star rating out of 5: 4.3 out of 5 stars
- Weight: 11.22 ounces (318.087 grams)
- What we liked: The product is very nice-looking and is made of bamboo so that it may be a sustainable kind of mortar pestle set. It could be a neat gift for birthdays or holidays like Christmas.
- What we didn’t like: The mortar bowl is too smooth, so ingredients tend to slide away when you’re pounding with the pestle. The mortar bowl may also leak if you put liquids in it.
- Available colors: Light brown only
- Ease of cleaning: The product can be washed with running water only, provided that you didn’t put anything acidic or oily in it. If you did, you might have to use mild dishwashing liquid and running water to clean it.
- Does it leave a mess? None
- Is assembly needed? None
If you are looking for something that looks attractive stored on your dining room cabinet or side table, then this wooden mortar pestle set could be perfect. Its light brown color and nicely shaped to complement wooden furniture too. No assembly is required.
However, this might not be the right tool for kitchen duties since the glued joints may come apart. It can also be damaged easily during shipping. So yes, this wooden mortar pestle set is not as strong as its stone counterparts.
You might also notice that the smooth interior of this wood mortar pestle set will allow ingredients to slide around somewhat. So you will need to practice pinning down the elements to pound them into smaller pieces or a paste. On the other hand, the smooth interior is perfect if you need to crush pills because it is easier to scoop out the pill powder.
If you intend to use this for kitchen duties, it can be cleaned with mild soap and water. Rinse it very well, then dry it with a clean and soft towel.
Black Carved Brass Mortar and Pestle Set (Best for Very Light Crushing Task)
- Material it’s made from: Solid brass
- Available sizes: 3.5 x 3.5 inches (or 8.89 cm x 8.89 cm for mortar), 5 inches (or 12.7 cm for pestle)
- Materials it can grind: Salts, herbs, spices, incense
- Design: Black with gold engravings
- Effort: Pestle is very light, so you just need gentle pounding for light and soft ingredients.
- Noise level: It can be annoying to listen to during pounding since it is metal
- Our star rating out of 5: 4.5 out of 5
- Weight: 10.4 ounces (294.84 grams)
- What we liked: The product is made out of brass which is an antibacterial substance. The mortar pestle set looks great so that it can be displayed on dining room shelves or altars.
- What we didn’t like: The black color tends to fade or chip. Residue and chips may get mixed with food ingredients when this happens. Also, harder elements than herbs and spices may be harder to crush and mash within the mortar bowl. The mortar bowl may also look more prominent in pictures which may disappoint some.
- Available colors: Black
- Ease of cleaning: It depends on what you used in it. For dry ingredients, you may simply rinse the mortar bowl and pestle with running water. But you may need to use mild dishwashing soap and running water if you used this for wet, acidic, or oily ingredients.
- Does it leave a mess?: None
- Is assembly needed? None
At first glance, the design of this product may blow you away since it doesn’t resemble stone or wooden mortar pestle sets. However, being totally black, the etched external design stands out even if you just bought the product to display on a kitchen shelf. No assembly is required.
Yes, you can still use it for meal preparation duties if you want to. But you can’t use it to mash substances harder than herbs and spices. On a positive note, it doesn’t absorb odors which is excellent when it’s time to clean it. However, you would still have to season the mortar bowl and pestle before the first use.
Another benefit from buying this mortar pestle set is that it’s not too heavy, so it’s not risky to use, even if you accidentally drop it on your foot. It is also smaller than many other types of mortar and pestle products, so it’s ideal for crushing small amounts of food ingredients. This means you can use it daily then clean it up afterward without getting fatigued.
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In a Pinch
As you can see, the world of mortars and pestles is fascinating even if you are new to cooking processes or just need something to grind down your medicine into powder with. You should always take your time analyzing your choice before purchasing any product, especially online.
The most expensive mortar pestle set is not automatically the best mortar and pestle that you can find online. You need to examine the good points and flaws of each product first.
If you like a particular mortar pestle pairing, then congratulations! You may be well on your way to purchasing one of the most useful kitchen tools you will ever find online.