View Poll Results: Do you own/use a kitchen mortar & pestle?
Yes, I own one & yes, I use it. 75 60.98%
Yes, I own one but no, I do not use it. 21 17.07%
No, I do not own one but yes, somehow I use one. 2 1.63%
No, I do not own or use one. 21 17.07%
I'm not even sure what a mortar & pestle is. 0 0%
I just like answering polls. 4 3.25%
Voters: 123. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 07-31-2019, 10:37 PM
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Do you own/use a kitchen mortar & pestle?


I watch some cooking channels on YouTube and today I watched one that featured the chef grinding some coriander seeds in a mortar & pestle. It was only notable to me because hers was huge, easily more than twice as large and the one I use, and mine has always seemed a perfectly adequate size for my purposes.

So that got me thinking about shopping for a new one, which got me thinking that of all my friends, I only know of a few that have a mortar and pestle, and of those, only one or two that I know use it with some regularity.

Then I asked a friend if they had one, and they didn't even know the phrase "mortar & pestle". When I explained, they said that they did know what they were, just not what they were called and no, they didn't own one.

So out of nothing more than idle curiosity, I thought I'd see if this ancient implement is widely known and used or if it has finally fallen out of favor in this modern world (or at least here on the Dope).

Do you own and use a mortar & pestle?

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 07-31-2019 at 10:40 PM.
  #2  
Old 07-31-2019, 10:44 PM
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Own one and use it, mostly to grind spices/seeds.
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:52 PM
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I use mine for ginger tea. I take a decent size hunk (at least a good 5 cc or more) and mush it to a pulp along with a couple teaspoons of sugar. I pack it all into a tea infuser and steep it in a teacup of hot water. yum.

A wrestling coach once tried to tell me the t in pestle was pronounced. A wresTling coach.
  #4  
Old 07-31-2019, 10:53 PM
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Haven't used one since college chemistry labs.
If you buy a new one, might as well get a sturdy one.
  #5  
Old 07-31-2019, 10:59 PM
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I have one, two if you count a stupidly large molcajete I inherited. But what do they do that a propeller grinder doesn't do, faster and easier?

Small ones are an immense PITA to use: the bowl tilts all of the time, spilling ground product everywhere. Or I'm a klutz, I don't know.
  #6  
Old 07-31-2019, 11:06 PM
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Have one, use it regularly.

Using a mortar and pestle is a very tactile experience, which I enjoy.
  #7  
Old 07-31-2019, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
I watch some cooking channels on YouTube and today I watched one that featured the chef grinding some coriander seeds in a mortar & pestle. It was only notable to me because hers was huge, easily more than twice as large and the one I use, and mine has always seemed a perfectly adequate size for my purposes.

So that got me thinking about shopping for a new one, which got me thinking that of all my friends, I only know of a few that have a mortar and pestle, and of those, only one or two that I know use it with some regularity.

Then I asked a friend if they had one, and they didn't even know the phrase "mortar & pestle". When I explained, they said that they did know what they were, just not what they were called and no, they didn't own one.

So out of nothing more than idle curiosity, I thought I'd see if this ancient implement is widely known and used or if it has finally fallen out of favor in this modern world (or at least here on the Dope).

Do you own and use a mortar & pestle?
Yep, I have a pretty big Thai one that I bought 15 years ago for about $15-$20 at the Southeast Asian grocery. This appears to be it, or something very similar to it. Size is right, look is right. (I actually broke the pestle part of it a year ago, so I need to replace it. Like the top half of the pestle broke off when I dropped it awkwardly. I still use it fine, but it's a little goofy looking.)

I typically use it for crushing things into pastes, but also for stuff like cracked pepper and when I don't feel like getting my spice grinder dirty. Like if I'm only crushing a small amount of spices, it's faster for me to just do it in the mortar & pestle.
  #8  
Old 07-31-2019, 11:47 PM
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I own one that is fairly small (I think, haven't really compared) and use it for grinding and blending spices when cooking. I don't use it often, because I don't cook as often as I should, but it gets the job done with minimal fuss.
  #9  
Old 08-01-2019, 06:53 AM
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I have a molcajete, so I'm unsure how to answer. Yeah, yeah, there's always that one guy that just has to be difficult.
  #10  
Old 08-01-2019, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
Do you own and use a mortar & pestle?
I own two.

One for cooking.

The other is for making incense and ritual powders.
  #11  
Old 08-01-2019, 06:59 AM
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Own one. I think I use it on average about once a year, but it's handy to have it when I need it.
  #12  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Balthisar View Post
I have a molcajete, so I'm unsure how to answer. Yeah, yeah, there's always that one guy that just has to be difficult.
Emphasis mine.

Until I read this thread I didn't know the word molcajete, and I answered the poll in the affirmative because I regularly use my big-ass mortar and pestle.
  #13  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Own one and use it, mostly to grind spices/seeds.
This. Also have a molcajete I use for guacamole.
  #14  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:28 AM
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I used it to grind up bouillon cubes for a chicken dish that I make, but now I buy granular bouillon so not so much any more.
  #15  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:34 AM
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I got Mrs. FtG a wooden set many years ago. She uses it once in a while. So sort-of own, myself don't use.
  #16  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:35 AM
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We have one. It's been used. Not often, but I've definitely used it. Like when the pepper mill broke.
  #17  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:48 AM
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I answered yes, we have and use one. Then I searched for "molcajete" and discovered that my m&p is really a molcajete.
  #18  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:51 AM
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Closest thing I have is a pill crusher for the cats.
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  #19  
Old 08-01-2019, 08:04 AM
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No, I already have a spice grinder which is all I would ever need one for.

I do often wonder if M&P would make for a better texture when making salsas though.
  #20  
Old 08-01-2019, 08:26 AM
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I voted "Yes, I own one & yes, I use it." but the real answer is that I have several, and use them all frequently.

One is for spice mixes that contain chili, one for other spice mixes and for nuts and grains and one larger one for pesto, rose petals and mochi.
  #21  
Old 08-01-2019, 09:13 AM
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I have a beautiful white M&P I got as a gift. I use it once a year to make charoset for the Passover Seder.
  #22  
Old 08-01-2019, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayaker View Post
Until I read this thread I didn't know the word molcajete, and I answered the poll in the affirmative because I regularly use my big-ass mortar and pestle.
A molcajete is a type of mortar and pestle, so you answered correctly.

I also have two and both are used frequently - the small one for spices and the molcajete mostly for guacamole.
  #23  
Old 08-01-2019, 12:01 PM
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I voted that I have one but don't use it. It would be more accurate to say that I have one and use it only rarely; but that wasn't one of the options.

Mine's a small ceramic version.
  #24  
Old 08-01-2019, 12:34 PM
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I have a teeny one that I use to grind up a pinch of dried rosemary or a few cardamom seeds. It's big enough for that.

I have a bigger one that I use to grind sesame seeds for a Japanese dressing for spinach or asparagus. It's also good to coarsely crack peppercorns when I need a bunch of them for steak or seared ahi or cacio e pepe pasta.

Last edited by teela brown; 08-01-2019 at 12:34 PM.
  #25  
Old 08-01-2019, 12:43 PM
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No, I already have a spice grinder which is all I would ever need one for.

I do often wonder if M&P would make for a better texture when making salsas though.
The one thing I find it indispensable for, and it's a niche usage, is for crushing lemongrass. As I said above, I use it mostly to make various pastes (like for Thai curries), and many of those include lemongrass. I've tried to make it in a food processor, but lemongrass is just so damned stringy and fibrous that it really needs to be pounded down. I'm sure there must be a decent mechanical way of doing it, but no blade implement I have breaks down that fibrousness enough.

It is also said that a true pesto should be made in a mortar and pestle, to really get that broken down instead of cut/blended texture to it. I'm usually too lazy and just use a food processor for that, but apparently it really should be done in a mortar and pestle.
  #26  
Old 08-01-2019, 12:47 PM
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I voted that I have and use one, but really I use it quite rarely these days. I used to use it to grind spices for a great vindaloo recipe, but I've found I can use pre-ground spices without any noticable difference.
  #27  
Old 08-01-2019, 01:16 PM
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This is a good thread to recount a story. A friend of my mom's always pronounced it "mortal and pretzel". English wasn't her first language (she was Italian), and we never corrected her because we found her version charming, and often used the words ourselves just for fun.

To this day, and I have to stop and think if the correct version is "mortar and pestle" or "mortal and pretzel" before saying it.

Last edited by teela brown; 08-01-2019 at 01:16 PM.
  #28  
Old 08-01-2019, 01:29 PM
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Yep, I have a pretty big Thai one that I bought 15 years ago for about $15-$20 at the Southeast Asian grocery. This appears to be it, or something very similar to it. Size is right, look is right. (I actually broke the pestle part of it a year ago, so I need to replace it. Like the top half of the pestle broke off when I dropped it awkwardly. I still use it fine, but it's a little goofy looking.)

I typically use it for crushing things into pastes, but also for stuff like cracked pepper and when I don't feel like getting my spice grinder dirty. Like if I'm only crushing a small amount of spices, it's faster for me to just do it in the mortar & pestle.
I have that exact same one, which I bought down the street, long, long ago at Bangluck Market (next to Sanamluang), and use it to make curries from scratch. To be honest, I don't have much time for that these days, but when you need a mortar and pestle, there really is no substitute. So even though the thing weighs a ton, it's been worth having.
  #29  
Old 08-01-2019, 01:50 PM
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In the last few years I have used it:

1) To grind up cat pills

2) To grind peppercorns, in a period of time after the grinder broke but before I could get a new one.
  #30  
Old 08-01-2019, 01:57 PM
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Own yes, use no. Mine's in storage. Eventually, I'll have kitchen space for it.
  #31  
Old 08-01-2019, 03:07 PM
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I have one, two if you count a stupidly large molcajete I inherited. But what do they do that a propeller grinder doesn't do, faster and easier?

Small ones are an immense PITA to use: the bowl tilts all of the time, spilling ground product everywhere. Or I'm a klutz, I don't know.
I have two. Can't be beat for grinding small amounts of spices - for which task, it's cleaning down the propeller grinder that's a PITA.

But they are, as others have noted, great for pastes. Last used one yesterday, to grind garlic into olive oil, for the purpose of roasting polenta chips. Which is how I now know that, like tofu, polenta contains antiflavour which, when it comes into contact with flavour, is obliterated, taking the flavour with it.

j
  #32  
Old 08-01-2019, 04:30 PM
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I am pleased that so many people have and use a mortar & pretzel ; I was afraid I was an outlier.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 08-01-2019 at 04:30 PM.
  #33  
Old 08-01-2019, 04:47 PM
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My parents always had one, growing up, and I'd love to have one. Unfortunately the grindy sound they make jangles my nerves in the worst way, so I know I'd never bring myself to use it. But in theory, I approve of 'em. Just give me time to get to the next room.
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  #34  
Old 08-01-2019, 04:54 PM
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I have one but use it really rarely. Not even once a year.
  #35  
Old 08-01-2019, 04:55 PM
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I have two, a large and a very small. I use them rarely, so stick that in your poll.
  #36  
Old 08-01-2019, 09:46 PM
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Yup, a heavy medium-sized marble one. Great for general-purpose grinding and crushing, and easier to wash than a mug and spoon. I don't like having lots of electric kitchen appliances, and grinders/blenders especially are a PITA to clean, so for any grinding/crushing that doesn't involve a lot of volume, the m&p is my go-to.
  #37  
Old 08-02-2019, 01:04 AM
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I have one, but haven't used it since administering chemo to my cat. I had to give him three pills a day, but he was really bad at taking pills. So I powderized them and mixed them with a little condensed milk.
  #38  
Old 08-02-2019, 06:55 AM
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Yep. For Pesto. The basil is at its peak and you've inspired me to make some this weekend.
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  #39  
Old 08-02-2019, 07:10 AM
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We use ours for mashing garlic, making pesto, crushing peppercorns, etc. When our tortoise was tiny I used our m&p to crush his pellets.
  #40  
Old 08-02-2019, 07:58 AM
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Yes, but I donít use it all that much.

Last edited by chela; 08-02-2019 at 07:59 AM.
  #41  
Old 08-07-2019, 12:00 AM
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I used to have two, the Thai one (also broke the pestle) and a smaller ceramic one.

I think I might still have the Thai one, but it's hidden away. The smaller one I use for whole cumin and anise. I accdentally bought ground cumin, so i haven't been using it so often, and I only use it for anise for Christmas cookies.

Why did I buy ground cumin? I was so surprise to find it at the store I forgot to check. It seems that cumin is not as common here in Switzerland. At least not in my corner.

There are videos of a British chef (his name is not coming to mind) using a mortar and pestle, and the mortar was about the size of dinner plate and even the pestle was a good 2-3" across. If I had space for such a thing, I would buy it.

And I did a search for a big-ass mortar and pestle and found the chef's name. Nigel Slater (includes a picture of the mortar and pestle, not the chef ).
  #42  
Old 08-07-2019, 01:11 AM
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My mother owns a mortar (bright yellow with some depictions of vague green leaves) and pestle (wood), but I've never used her much less seen her do it. It sits on top of her kitchen cabinets. In Spanish, the words are mortero and mano de mortero, mortar's hand: I've seen some where the hand is shaped like a fist.

I've used ceramic mortar and pestle sets in the lab, but only once or twice and never once I started getting paid to be in the lab.

Last edited by Nava; 08-07-2019 at 01:14 AM.
  #43  
Old 08-07-2019, 01:29 AM
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I have a nice stone mortar and pestle from Indonesia - while I don't use it often these days, it's great to have when I need it.

A tip I read years ago and always follow: if you need to grind some spices, add the salt you plan to use and grind the spices and the salt together. It helps turn the whole spices into a nice, uniform powder.
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  #44  
Old 08-07-2019, 01:34 AM
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I have one, but haven't used it since administering chemo to my cat. I had to give him three pills a day, but he was really bad at taking pills. So I powderized them and mixed them with a little condensed milk.
Slight hijack: I have a cat that hates taking pills, have tried putting them in pill pockets or grinding them up and putting them in liver, with minimal success. It sounds like the condensed milk method works for your cat?
  #45  
Old 08-07-2019, 02:02 AM
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It was only notable to me because hers was huge, easily more than twice as large and the one I use, and mine has always seemed a perfectly adequate size for my purposes.
Don't worry about it, son. The ladies really don't care about your pestle's size, so long as you know how to grind fine with it.
  #46  
Old 08-07-2019, 07:15 AM
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I have a ridiculously tiny one that I use to grind garlic and salt into a paste for my famous herb butter that I make for a Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser once a year. I've used it to grind other spices as well, because the tiny amounts I'm grinding don't even get near the blades in my electric grinder, and it's much easier to clean.
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:26 AM
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I own one, but I can't say it gets a whole lot of use. Mostly when there's some specific reason we can't use a blender or blade-style spice grinder, or the amount of spices is too tiny to bother with the spice grinder for.
  #48  
Old 08-07-2019, 08:29 AM
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I own one, but I can't say it gets a whole lot of use. Mostly when there's some specific reason we can't use a blender or blade-style spice grinder, or the amount of spices is too tiny to bother with the spice grinder for.
Jesus. A spice grinder ? You guys have some really specialized equipment in y'alls kitchens. I don't even own a second pan.
  #49  
Old 08-07-2019, 08:45 AM
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Jesus. A spice grinder ? You guys have some really specialized equipment in y'alls kitchens. I don't even own a second pan.
I think most people use the same piece of equipment they use to grind coffee beans. As for me, I used to have two coffee grinders, one dedicated to coffee and one for spices, but having decided I'm not enough of a coffee connoisseur to grind fresh beans all the time, one grinder devoted to spices is fine.

At the other end of the spectrum, a friend once showed me a great life hack if you need a mortar and pestle but don't have one: a small ceramic bowl and a bottle of Tabasco sauce work just fine.
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  #50  
Old 08-07-2019, 08:50 AM
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Jesus. A spice grinder ? You guys have some really specialized equipment in y'alls kitchens. I don't even own a second pan.
If you ever get into Indian cooking, you'll buy one quick enough.
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