Kitchen

Granite Mortar and Pestle

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Quickly crushes spices, herbs and more

A good mortar and pestle set is an efficient, versatile kitchen tool, which makes it easy to grind up whole spices (which keep better than ground spices), crush whole or dried herbs, mash garlic into paste, guacamolize an avocado, or even make your own nut butters. Oh, and pesto of course (“pestle” and “pesto” are derived from the same word, after all: pestâ, “to pound or crush”).

It’s easy to use, easy to get stuff out of, and easy to clean…the part that isn’t easy is finding a good one. I use a mortar and pestle daily (I’m a compounding pharmacist, so I use them to make custom medicines)…and so I can say authoritatively that most mortar and pestle sets sold for kitchen use are decorative but useless junk. They don’t grind well at all, and the pestles often do not fit the mortar properly (if the convexity at the pestle base is the wrong size, you won’t get an even particle reduction). Some mortars are too shallow and everything spills out, or too narrow and it’s hard to grind in them and difficult to get the spices out of them…etc., etc. But this sucker means BUSINESS.

I wouldn’t use it at work, because the surface inside is a bit too rough for pharmaceutical mixing…but that makes it *perfect* for grinding seeds and spices, and it does so very quickly and with ease. There’s enough weight to the set that the mortar doesn’t slide around and the weight of the pestle helps you grind your spices. The first time I used it, I ground up some whole spices for a curry and it was like, “Grind—grind—holy cow, it’s done already?!?” It’s fast and efficient. Unlike other tools I’ve used to do similar jobs, it’s no trouble to get the crushed material out of the bowl (silicone spatula), and very simple to clean with soap and water (unless you’re fussy about potential soap contamination; then you can clean it by grinding some dry rice, then wiping out the residue). It’s also gorgeous. Looks great on the counter…and it’s heavy enough to make an effective weapon of defense. I can hear the “Clue” game now: “Mrs. White—in the Kitchen—with the Granite Mortar.” < SMACK! > Seriously, though, I’d be careful where you put it, so it doesn’t get knocked off the counter accidentally and break your toe. Don’t perch it on the edge of the counter, set it to the back.

Also, granite is very hard and durable, but brittle, so you don’t want it anywhere it could get a hard smack, or it could potentially chip. All in all, the best kitchen mortar & pestle set I’ve found. I’m using mine almost daily…and it makes a great gift for your foodie friends, too!

-- Barbara Dace 02/1/17