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How to Season a New Mortar and Pestle

How to Season a New Mortar and Pestle

I have a list of kitchen appliances and tools that I’d love to own. A mortar and pestle was on my list — so when I saw a sale for a large set I splurged and bought it!

I had no idea about the variety of recipes you can make with a mortar and pestle (or about the required seasoning before using one). So for this week’s post, I’m going to share what I’ve learned about mortar and pestles.

What Types of Mortar and Pestles Can I Buy?

You can buy a mortar and pestle in any material:

  • Glass

  • Ceramic/Porcelain

  • Wood

  • Stone (like granite)

  • Stainless steel

  • Etc.

I bought a granite mortar and pestle. Though I like the aesthetic of wood or porcelain, I read that wood was difficult to keep clean and the ceramic was easily breakable.

What Does “Season” Mean When We Talk About Food?

“Season” besides flavoring ingredients/meats with spices, is also an interchangeable term for “condition.”

If you have cast-iron cookware, the term “season” is used to refer to the treatment/conditioning of the iron over time.

In this case, “seasoning” a new mortar and pestle refers to the conditioning/prep you need to do before you start cooking with it.

I’ve also seen the word “cure” used to refer to this process of “breaking-in” or “prepping” your new mortar and pestle for use.

Why do I have to season my new mortar and pestle?

If you have an unseasoned mortar and pestle, or one made out of granite/stone, then you need to season it before using. This is because the porous surface can release particles of stone and grit into your food upon first use. Seasoning preps the surface and removes any of these particles.

The Seasoning Process

  1. Wash with a scrubby brush and air dry. Do not use soap

  2. Season with rice into a powder

  3. Season with recommended spices to form a paste

  4. Wash again using a scrubby brush. Air dry

  5. Time to cook!

How to Season a New Mortar and Pestle

Best Technique While Seasoning Your New Mortar and Pestle

My first instinct while trying to grind the rice was to use my wrist and strength and pound the rice into a powder. This action is a lot of effort and doesn’t really do anything to the rice.

I read that if you’re trying to crack nuts, you can pound them open using this motion. But if you’re trying to make a paste, the best technique is to use your wrist to maneuver the ingredients up and around the sides of the mortar. The stony texture of the mortar plus the pressure from the pestle is what’s going to do the work for you.

How Long it Takes to Complete

Grinding the rice into a powder took more than 30-minutes. My dad (who is also a foodie), volunteered to take turns grinding the rice. With his help, we finished it much faster than I would’ve on my own (it’s a workout!).

Some blogs suggest rice-seasoning three or more times! I couldn’t imagine doing that in one day, let alone one sitting.

My mortar and pestle actually came with instructions which said to season with rice only once (thank god).

Seasoning the mortar and pestle with the other ingredients took less time, since it was garlic and spices.

Storage and Upkeep

You may be wondering: If you don’t use soap, how do you ensure that those flavors don’t transfer when you use the mortar and pestle again?

Well, bring out the rice. If you find that after scrubbing and drying your mortar and pestle, you have unwanted flavors, grind the rice into a powder to remove them.

For the most part, none of my research says that you have to do this frequently. Scrubbing with the rough end of the sponge or brush will clean any spices and pastes from the mortar.

Store your mortar and pestle where it won’t be hit. You don’t want to crack or chip the bowl. Storing on a lower cabinet is best, considering how heavy they can be.

Ready for a Mortar and Pestle Recipe?

I’m excited to share a new recipe I’ve never made before using my new (and, now seasoned) mortar and pestle. Stay tuned here to download the recipe and check it out.

Thanks for visiting.

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