Mortar and Pestle: The simple tool to change your kitchen experience forever

Mortars and pestles. Maybe the first thing that comes to your mind is, “now there’s a tool no one needs anymore.” Why should you work your elbows off to do the same thing, only slower when we have a blender that does the job?

Stop right there! 

Humans have been using mortar and pestle since prehistory. It’s an essential tool for crushing and grinding food into granules, powder, or paste. Though food processors and blenders seem to have replaced mortars and pestles since the ’70s, many believe that they do the same thing… it’s hardly the case.

The benefits of mortars and pestles

Don’t get me wrong, we love our blender, too and it has its own time and place to shine in our kitchen! But the mortar and pestle — this simple kitchenware has many strengths that modern electronics just can’t achieve. When you get to know the benefits of mortar and pestle, it may just inspire you to bring your cooking experience to the next level. Here’s why:

1. More aroma and flavor

By crushing and grinding, the mortar and pestle do a beautiful job in rupturing the food and bringing out the fresh, pungent aroma. Blenders chop and shred, making the food much smaller, but the cells that release the scent in the small pieces actually remain unruptured.

2. Lasting colors on your food

Grinding in a mortar keeps the vibrant colors of your food for a longer time while blenders destroy the cellular structure of the food, exposing it to a lot of air and oxidation.

3. Total control over the texture

While it’s much easier to get your food smooth and consistent with a blender, you have much more control over the texture with a mortar. Manual labor enables you to be precise and play around with the consistency you look for.

4. Low-maintenance, easy to clean

Wash it. Dry it. Done. No need to take apart pieces and clean them separately like you do a blender.

5. It brings you mindful cooking

You simply feel more connected to the food you make. Using your muscles and engaging in crushing the ingredients goes a long way than just pressing a button. You use your eyes to look at the basil in the mortar, listen to the sound of the grinding, smell its sweet aroma as you crush the leaves, touch the pestle and feel the food through it. It’s definitely more work, but it’s also meditative when you use all these senses on the food. Taste it, and you just satisfied all your senses!

Choosing a mortar and pestle

You can be very creative since you get to choose whether to powder your food or roughly crush it. Bruising mint for tea, basil for pesto, crushing nuts for garnish, grinding herbs and spices, to name a few. Mashing potatoes and pumpkins are also our favorite way to use them. When you search for a mortar and pestle, you’ll find various shapes and sizes. What to look for depends on what you’d use it for, but here are some basics to keep in mind when choosing your first mortar:


Granite Mortar
A heavy material such as granite is easier to handle.
Sturdy, dense, heavy materials are easier to use because you need stability when grinding your food. Think marble, granite, ceramic mortars rather than wood or glass.


Generally, a 6-inch mortar can do many things. But if you are making a small amount of spice or pureed garlic for your meal, all you may need is a small one.


A round bowl is easier to use your pestle to grind the food.


Make sure the surface is coarse inside the mortar. A glossy interior is pretty but not very functional in grinding food.


It’s important that the pestle is large and long enough to the size of your mortar. A pestle too skiny or short makes it impossible to catch the ingredients and push them against the mortar.

Different culture, different mortar

We’ve used it since the Stone Age, which means different cultures have different types of mortars and pestles. Take Suribachi and Surikogi, for example.

Suribachi and Surikogi, the Japanese mortar and pestle.

Suribachi is a ceramic mortar used in Japan, and Surikogi is a pestle usually made with wood. Suribachi is unique because it has ridged lines inside, which makes it an excellent grinder for seeds and nuts. Some of the common ingredients used in Japan for Suribachi are sesame seeds and grated yam. At Motsutou, we make pesto with it, and it works just as great. On top of it, we can grade garlic and ginger in it, too!

The mortar and pestle have evolved from one culture to another to fit the needs of each culinary, and there are an unlimited number of ways you can use it. We hope you give this simple yet versatile kitchen tool a try and see how it can enrich your cooking life!

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