Why It's Important To Season Your Mortar And Pestle

The mortar and pestle is a tool that dates back to the Stone Age, when it was originally used to grind grains and medicinal herbs (via Food & Nutrition). Despite the adoption of modern-day conveniences such as blenders and food processors, the mortar and pestle still reigns in cultures and cuisines across the globe — from the fresh, bright pesto of Italy and tasty guacamole of Mexico to fragrant curry paste in Thailand and doughy fufu in West Africa (via MasterClass).

Traditionally made from stone, ceramic, or wood, mortars and pestles are loved for their ability to do one thing that their electric counterparts cannot: Releasing the natural oils of your herbs and spices. However, Bon Appétit says that there's a right and wrong way to use a mortar and pestle. Instead of smashing and winding your ingredients, you should use more of a rocking and pressing technique. And, if your mortar and pestle are made of porous materials like molcajetes are, it's also important that you prep the tool by seasoning it first.

Seasoning your mortar and pestle

Porous materials like wood, granite, or volcanic rock are commonly used to make mortars and pestles due to their sturdiness. However, MasterClass says that these materials need to be seasoned before use — or else you could be left with splintered pieces of rock and dirt in your food. The good news is that the process of seasoning your mortar and pestle is fairly easy and takes no more than ten minutes.

To begin, you should rinse your mortar and pestle with warm water — and only warm water. You should never clean your porous mortars and pestles with soap, because there is a chance the soap could linger in the ridges, leaving a soapy taste in anything you make with it going forward. However, after it's been rinsed, place a handful of white rice at the bottom of the mortar and add a tablespoon of water. Finally, you'll start to grind the water and rice together.

From then on, you'll continue grinding the mixture for five to eight minutes. As you do so, you'll start to see grit from the mortar coming off into the rice — that means it's working! Rinse and repeat these steps until the rice comes out clean, then leave your tools to air dry on their own. From then on, you can enjoy using your mortar and pestle to make guacamole, grind garlic, and hand-crush herbal teas — without the grit.