The 10 Best Mortar And Pestles
Mortar And Pestles
Our Picks in Detail
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* Last update of prices was on 2019-01-20 10:12:57 via PA API. Prices or conditions may have changed in the meantime.
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Mortar And Pestle Buying Guide
As you might expect from thousands of years of innovation, however, mortars and pestles come in countless varieties. Here's what you should know before choosing a set to use around your household.
Mortar and Pestle Essentials
In its simplest form, a mortar and pestle set consists of two basic objects: A mortar, or bowl for crushing, and a pestle, or blunt object used to do the actual crushing work.
Don't let the seeming simplicity fool you, however. The designs of these components play a significant role in how easy and efficient they are to use. Consider the following factors.
Capacity: How Big Is the Mortar and Pestle?
As with any other kitchen implement, you need to choose the right tool for the job at hand. Are you just grinding a few pills into a powder for easier consumption? Then you'll probably be fine with a shallow HIC Flying Saucer design. Want to make flour from home-grown grains or whip up a ton of fiesta-ready pico de gallo? Try a traditional Mexican-style molcajete and tejolote, or mortar and pestle, set like Vasconia's 4-cup model.
Although larger mortar and pestle sets need more storage space, they're better for preparing substantial dishes or processing lots of material from your garden in one go. On the other hand, they can be overkill for small one-off jobs. Many chefs find it simplest to keep both options within easy reach at all times.
Ease of Use: How Much Does the Pestle Weigh?
Most mortar and pestle listings don't include the weight of the individual components, but you should still take such details into consideration. When you crush things with a mortar and pestle, the speed with which you get the job done is directly related to the amount of downward force that you apply. With lightweight grinders, you have to press down harder. Heftier options, on the other hand, take care of a lot of the work for you because they weigh more.
So how can you pick the perfectly bulky product if manufacturers don't publish this information? Start by looking at the materials and sizes. Larger options crafted from natural stone, like Kota Japan's guacamole-ready set, are usually heavier than wooden alternatives.
Material: What Is Your Set Made From?
Mortar and pestle sets come in a range of different materials that all have their pros and cons. Here's a quick primer on some of the most common options:
Ceramics, like apothecary-grade porcelain, traditionally played prominent roles in pharmacies where professionals used them to grind various medications. Mortar and pestle sets made from these materials are incredibly long-lasting.
Most ceramic mortars don't absorb the flavors and odors of the ingredients you're crushing, so they see regular use in laboratories. Due to their smooth nature, however, it's often wise to find options with silicone or rubber grip surfaces and bases, like Cooler Kitchen's dishwasher-safe design.
Basalt, Granite and Other Natural Stone
Lithic materials represent the most traditional options, but they're by no means behind the times. Surfaces made from unpolished granite and lava rock naturally have an abrasive texture that dramatically aids in the grinding process. On the other hand, this porosity makes these mortar and pestle products a bit harder to clean since you can't use soap.
Stone mortars are among the heaviest, most abuse-resistant options, and some can even serve as heating dishes. Many people favor them simply for their throwback appearance. Smaller marble mortars, such as Sagler's 3.75-inch set, serve as an excellent middle-of-the-road option for those who want something heftier than ceramics yet less imposing than basalt and granite.
While options like granite are known for taking on flavors, regular rinsing helps deal with such problems. With all-natural products, like Tudimo's wide-body, 6-pound set and many classic molcajete designs, you'll need to season the mortar and pestle to remove small grains of stone that initially break away from the rough surfaces. This pre-use treatment is reasonably simple. You just keep grinding handfuls of white rice in the mortar until the resulting powder comes out clean and white.
These sets are right at home in the modern kitchen. They have distinct advantages like durability and functional elegance, and they're easy to sanitize.
Some options by Bekith and other manufacturers incorporate a double-walled construction that increases their durability. Unlike stone, you can drop most steel sets on the ground without suffering anything more than a dent or scratch.
As with other materials, not all types of stainless steel are equal. It's important to look for options that have high purities so that you can avoid harmful constituents like mercury and lead. Low-quality stainless steel may begin to rust or scratch, so it's worth checking out different product reviews before purchasing.
Wooden mortar and pestle sets are far less cumbersome than stone, steel or ceramic. You can also drop, abuse and handle them without a worry. Donxote's kitchen masher, for instance, is perfect for young chefs who might accidentally smash their fingers with something heavier.
Like stone, wood isn't soap- or dishwasher-safe. It's also far softer than the other options.
You can find affordable, eco-friendly wood options made from bamboo and other organic substances online. Or you can upgrade to durable alternatives made from acacia, olive and other species. If you prefer a rustic look, wood gives you lots of artistic freedom as an interior designer.
These are just some of the many materials that you'll encounter. While less common, mortar and pestle pairs also come in glass, cast iron and other substances. Many home chefs even mix and match their favorite mortars and pestles from different sets to get the perfect combination for regular use.
Style: What's in a Functional Design?
Mortar and pestle designs vary widely, so what should you pick? Important features that you might want to consider include:
- Pour spouts: Commonly found on smaller wood, ceramic and stainless steel designs, flared spouts make it easier to dole out crushed liquids and sauces with precision.
- Bases and feet: Bases made from silicone and felt can help protect the counter surfaces that you're using. Some non-slip products also make it easier to apply downward force without your mortar sliding away.
- Pestle shape: Thin, long grinders, like those found in apothecary-style ceramic and metal sets, give you less of a grasping surface. On the other hand, using the broader granite tejolote variety may get tiring after a while. Look for the perfect happy medium, or grab distinct tools for different tasks.
- Mortar shape: Smaller mortars with rounded surfaces and smooth curves might be easier to grasp with one hand while you grind using the pestle in the other. Mortar shape isn't such a big deal for large molcajete sets, but if you plan on using yours for lengthy periods, you should never overlook the ergonomic aspects.
Picking Your Mortar and Pestle
Choosing a mortar and pestle set ultimately comes down to what you plan on using it to accomplish. Whether you're making sauces, running a classroom chemistry lab or grinding wildcrafted medicinal herbs, be sure to consider all of these factors as you hunt for the perfect product.
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