Kitchen mortar: uses, characteristics and recipes

Are you passionate about cooking? If so, the mortar is a very useful tool that will help you improve the seasoning of your dishes. Learn everything about him!

There are hundreds of products on the market available for use in the kitchen. They range from very sophisticated, such as thermometers, to the simplest, such as the traditional wooden spoon. In this article we will talk about kitchen mortar, a very useful and traditional tool.

The mortar, also known as a pestle , grinder or molcajete , is a utensil used to grind, crush, crush and mix food , seeds, herbs and spices In addition, it is also used in chemistry and medicine.

It is a traditional instrument for many cultures and its design has not changed throughout history. It is a tool made up of two parts: the first is a concave container and the second is the pestle or hand, which is a kind of mallet with a rounded tip.

Uses of mortar in the kitchen

The mortar is used to break, crush or crumble food. In the process, the products are deposited in the bowl while they are beaten and crushed with the pestle.

In conclusion, it is a very intuitive and easy-to-use tool. The force that is given to the movements will depend on the texture that you want to achieve at the end.

One of the main advantages of mortar is that it works perfectly with small amounts of food and allows its flavors, textures and smells to be enhanced. In addition, it allows to obtain more rustic textures than with a food processor .

For example, with a mortar you can get a pesto sauce with more density. In addition, it is a low-cost alternative when you do not have an electric machine.

Due to its versatility it can be used for many purposes. One of the most popular is to marinate garlic , as it allows you to open it and enhance its flavor without getting the annoying smell on your hands. It is also very useful when you have an aromatic oil and you want to unblock its flavors, crushing the spices.

It is a great help when you need to crush small portions of a spice , nut or seed, which would otherwise be very difficult for the blades of the processor or mincer to take. It is also ideal for making a guacamole or another type of sauce that does not need to be very liquid.

In the mortar we can prepare a guacamole with the right texture.

We recommend you read: How to preserve condiments and spices

History of mortar

The history of mortar dates back thousands of years . There are records from ancient Egypt that indicate that it was used in 1550 BC. However, it is very possible that its use came from the first civilizations.

Mortars and pestles have been present in almost every culture in the world and can be found in many materials, such as iron, clay, marble, wood, porcelain, ceramic, stone or brass, according to a publication in Fine Cooking magazine For example, in Mexico they are called molcajetes and chilmoleras and are made of lava rocks or mud.

On the other hand, in Greece skordalia sauce is usually prepared , made of garlic, olive oil, walnuts and potatoes or bread, with a wooden mortar. In oriental culture, the Japanese-style mortar called suribachi is not so concave, it is usually made of ceramic and has small grooves around it. The pestle of this mortar is called a surikogi and it is usually made of wood.

In Japan it is traditionally used to prepare gomasio or sesame salt. In addition, a shrimp paste is made with it. In Malaysia there is also a traditional mortar and it is called lesung. 

How to choose a good kitchen mortar?

Choosing a good mortar is not a task that has greater science. However, there are some key facts that will help you make the best decision.

The first thing to select is the size . Fortunately, you can find small ones and also some very large ones, even meters high.

To choose the size you must think about the use you want to give it. Are you going to cook for yourself or for many people? Are you interested in preparing sauces or just to crush herbs and spices?

As for the material, it will depend on personal taste. However, fluted mortars give extra help when you have to crush hard things , because they stick to the edges and do not slip. Ceramic and porcelain mortars can be more slippery, but they exert more pressure and are very easy to wash.

If it is a question of buying only a mortar, it is best to have one of medium or large size, because it can be adapted both to spices or herbs, as well as to the preparation of sauces.

Tricks to use the mortar

When using the mortar, there are a few tricks that will make your job easier. First, you can put a cloth under the container so that it does not move as much . If you are marinating herbs, you can add a little coarse salt, as it will help reduce the humidity.

If you want to grind nuts or seeds you can toast them. This will make them easier to crush and release more flavor.

In Mexico, tradition indicates that before using the molcajete it is necessary to cure it. In other words, a procedure must be carried out to eliminate any impurity or chemical that may affect the taste of food. To do this, you can crush raw rice and see if the result is a white or gray powder. If it’s gray, the stone may be chipping and not ready to use.

Then it is necessary to grind a few cloves of garlic, to which you can add oil, salt and sugar, and distribute the paste that forms over the entire surface. After this process, the mortar should be left still for about 30 minutes before washing it off.

Recipes with kitchen mortar

The use of mortar has a long tradition in the preparation of traditional dishes in many countries. However, at the same time it can be used to prepare condiments on a day-to-day basis.

Pesto takes on a special consistency when prepared in a mortar.

Poblano mole

The mole poblano is a traditional delicacy of Mexican cuisine that gives a unique touch to meats and goes very well with tortillas, nachos and burritos. It is characterized because it has many ingredients.

You will need 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, a pinch of cinnamon, a cup of almonds, a tablespoon of pepper, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, chili peppers of various types without seeds, 2 red tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of cocoa, salt, sugar, salt and oil.

The first thing you should do is cook the chilies in water for half an hour . Afterwards, it is necessary to pass the ingredients through a saucepan with oil to release their flavors, toast them and cook them.

In the molcajete you must incorporate them all and begin to mash them until they become a sauce. You must add salt and sugar to taste. If the sauce is getting too thick, you can use a little chicken or meat broth to give it a more liquid texture.

Pesto sauce

This type of sauce, also known as Genoese pesto , is a traditional delicacy of Italian food that goes very well with salads, pasta or meats. To make it you will need pine nuts, basil, olive oil, salt and a clove of garlic. The first thing you should do is put the basil and mash it until it forms a dough .

Then you must add the garlic and walnuts and marinate with a lot of pressure. For several minutes you must press with the pestle until you achieve the consistency you want. Then you transfer it to another container and add the salt and olive oil.


Sesame or gomasio salt is a traditional condiment in Japanese cuisine. It is used with salads, vegetables or soups.

In addition, it is very healthy, because sesame or sesame has many beneficial properties. To prepare it, you will only need 1/2 cup of sesame seeds and 3 tablespoons of sea salt.

The first thing you should do is toast the sesame seeds without using oil. However, you must be very careful that they do not burn.

After roasting the seeds, you should put them on the mortar with the sea salt and start grinding. However, if there are a few whole seeds left, there is no problem, because they give a nice texture to the mixture.

Use your kitchen mortar to decorate

After reading this article, you already know a little about the history of the kitchen mortar and its uses in food preparation. However, it is also important to mention that it is a very beautiful object that can add a special touch to the decoration of your kitchen. For this, you can leave it in plain sight.

Also, there are certain mortars that are used to serve food because of their rustic and picturesque appearance. This is the case of the Mexican volcanic stone molcajete. If you ever go to a Mexican restaurant, the nachos or guacamole are most likely served in such a mortar.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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