The mortar and pestle has been around for thousands of years as one of the first culinary tools used. Even before super sharp kitchen knives were in use, chefs around the world were making us of the mortar and pestle to create fragrant, delicious dishes.
A lot of us probably chop our lettuce, garlic, cinnamon and other herbs, spices, and garnishes. It doesn’t have to take that much work, though. The big advantage of using this tool is that it cuts down the work time considerably for making certain dishes.
You can’t exactly throw one dish’s worth of whole spices into a
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Blenders are not designed for chopping up very small quantities, but a mortar and pestle are. That’s the best way to bring out the flavour. You have to cut them and grind them down by hand, which can take a while.
A mortar and pestle can be the best way to bring out powerful, authentic flavour in your dishes and your seasonings. If you want the full taste of garlic, you use this handy tool.
Contrary to an electric grinder or crusher, the age-old, durable, traditional manual grinding method ensures that all cooking ingredients bring out their full flavour and aroma profiles, allowing you to further control their texture and make delicious, chunk-free dishes.
You’re missing out by not using it, and you’ll have more flavourful bread, pizza, meats, and other foods by pulverising your garlic down with the mortar and pestle.
Its’s true of other herbs and spices as well- you’ll capture their true essence and their potent flavour with this tool that you miss out on by chopping them.
There are so many recipes using pestle and mortar too, and if you though that this tool was just used for making guacamole, you would be wrong. I want to share with you some of the best recipes for mortar and pestle out there so that you can see the value of having this in your kitchen.
Let’s start with the one everyone expects from an article about mortar and pestle. Guacamole is made from fresh avocados, with a variety of seasonings that can be as extensive as you like. It’s best served chilled and is a great filling for burritos and tacos and an excellent tortilla chip dipping sauce.
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I like to spread mine on toast for a healthy and filling breakfast I don’t have to feel guilty about at all. Guacamole is one of the simplest recipes using a mortar and pestle you can make, and doing it right mostly depends on the freshness of your ingredients, which ingredients you use, and your proportions.
- 3 avocados
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lime
- ½ cup onion diced
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- 3 tbsp cilantro chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- Start by juicing the lime, using that fresh juice in your guacamole mixture.
- Pit and peel your avocados and then mash them. You can use the mortar and pestle for that, if they are big enough.
- Mash your lime juice, salt, and avocados together in a medium bowl, and then mix in the rest of the ingredients.
- Place the guacamole in the fridge for at least an hour before you serve it. You can add in cayenne pepper or hot sauce to Mexican mortar and pestle recipes like this to give them a little spicy kick.
Aioli is another of the super simple pestle and mortar recipes you are missing out on without this kitchen tool.
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Garlic aioli is very fragrant and tasty and makes for an excellent sandwich or cracker spread. It is also useful as a dip, traditionally used with crab cakes.
- 2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¾ salt
- In a bowl, mix together lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and garlic. Be sure to grind them thoroughly with your mortar and pestle, and then cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. Serve cold.
Seared Steak and Chimichurri
This is one of the mortar and pestle recipes Jamie Oliver came up with. Anyone who knows of his cooking knows that he swears by the mortar and pestle and recommends that everyone has one in their kitchen.
Both pestle and mortar are made of food grade 18/8 stainless steel. Not only are they rustproof, it is also resistant to damage and corrosion by acidic food. Small compact mortar, about the size of the average palm - whereas one could pick it up with one hand, capacity 250ml.
Once you make this delicious meal, you will see why. It is so packed with flavour, and that’s not a level of flavour you can get just by chopping your ingredients or buying them packaged from the grocery. Only the mortar and pestle manage to get that kind of powerful taste from these ingredients.
Seared Steak and Chimichurri
- Sirloin steak
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 spring onion bunch
- 2 cloves of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- 230 grams roasted red peppers
- Red wine vinegar
- ½ parsley bunch
- Dice off the fat from the steak.
- Take the fat cuttings and place them in a non-stick frying pan with the garlic cloves on low heat. Leave the garlic unpeeled for this step. Be sure to turn them regularly to cook them on all sides. Keep cooking until the fat crisps.
- Peel sweet potatoes and chop them into small chunks.
- Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water with salt for 10 minutes. Check them to see if they are tender and then remove and drain.
- Smash the potatoes, season them, and keep them warm while you make the rest of the meal.
- Trim off the ends of the spring onions. Cut the chilies in half and deseed them. Place onions and chilies in the pan with the steak fat and cook until lightly brown.
- Take all of the crispy fat and four of the onions out of the pan and set them aside. The remainder of the pan’s contents (onion, garlic, and chilies) can be placed into a blender. Don’t start the blender yet.
- Add in the parsley, half a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and half a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Blend until they are smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the steak sinew and season your steak with sea salt and pepper. Place in a nonstick frying pan on high heat and cook until it is as done as you want, turning every minute as it cooks.
- Rest the steak on top of the spring onion for a couple of minutes and then slice.
- Dish out a little sauce onto your plate, along with the steak, sweet potato, crispy fat and onions. The unused sauce can be stored in the fridge for future use.
This isn’t the quickest and simplest of mortar and pestle recipes, but it is one of my favourites.
Mortar and Pestle Medicine Recipes
Did you know that you can make your own herbal medicine using a mortar and pestle? There are so many uses for this handy item that I think you will realise you were missing out before you had one in your kitchen.
To make medicine in tablet form, you just grind up the desired herb with the mortar and pestle. Then, fill an empty capsule and close it back. This capsule can store for months and still be viable.
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I suggest using the capsule for medicinal herbs because some of them don’t taste very good. That’s also a good way to be sure they get integrated into your bloodstream and don’t just end up being wasted.
You can also use this tool for mortar and pestle spice recipes. You can make your own ground cinnamon, cumin, ginger, garlic, parsley, thyme and more.
They will keep for a long time in your cupboard this way, if you place them in an airtight container. You’ll have fresh spices and seasonings to use whenever you like, and you can mix them together to make you own rubs and seasonings.