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How To: Use a Mortar & Pestle

4 Easy Steps

The mortar is the bowl | the pestle is the accompanying "club." Typically made of hard wood, ceramic or stone, the mortar & pestle are designed to crush, grind and mix.

The mortal & pestle has a very special place in Spicemode's kitchen 

Historic Roots

Considered an artisanal way to blend spices, documented usage of the mortar & pestle dates all the way back to 35,000 years B.C. Spices were blended using a stone set, slowly grinding the aromatics into a full-flavored powder. 

The mortar & pestle's significance is cross-cultural. In Thai cuisine, the stone tool set dates all the way back to the Sukhothai period. One of the first few cooking tools used, it was essential to making a robust curry paste. In Mexican cuisine, the mortar & pestle - molcajete y tejolote - was used to make delicious guacamole and grind spices as early as 6,000 years ago. Whoa..

Interested in giving one a try? 

How to:

  • Pick the right one: Ceramics are very capable of grinding even the toughest of spices, but they are extremely delicate. Wood models are durable but porous. Whatever you grind before might leak into your next batch without proper care. Stone mortar & pestles also need proper care - particles of stone can make their way into your spice blend if you aren't careful.
  • Pick the right size: Are you grinding small or large batches of spices?
  • Place the raw spices in the mortar: Fill the mortar no more than 1/3 full of raw materials.
  • Use the pestle to process: Hold the mortar with one hand & with the other take the pestle and twist. Evenly grind, bash or crush all of the spices. Continue until the ingredients are the desired consistency. Store in a cool, dry place.
Something for you visual learners:

Brands We're Crushing On 

Old Faithful Ceramic Mortar & Pestle (1 Pint)

Le Creuset's Stoneware 10-Ounce Mortar & Pestle

Spicemode + Mortar & Pestle

Hand blended by Spicemode in Chicago,

Our signature seasonings include dozens of coarsely ground spices. Inspired by the grind consistency of the mortar & pestle, our blends mimic rustic tradition by providing a full range of flavor. Instead of all spices becoming one in a fine powder, Spicemode's small batch method of blending allows each spice to stand alone - thus enabling complex layers of flavor to flow. Food instantly becomes more interesting when you taste dozens of spices individually than together as a cohesive whole. 

Spicemode + Food = An Experience


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