Mortar & Pestle: Sometimes The Simplest Tools Are Best

I have an old coffee grinder that I use as a dedicated spice grinder. It is great for large jobs, but it is less than ideal for when you just want to grind up a couple of allspice berries and cloves.

I find myself in that situation a lot. I'm generally cooking for two people, and it is easy to overdo things when you are working with whole spices. That's when I turn to my mortar and pestle.

...or, I would, normally. My pestle didn't make the move in August, and I've been without one since. Angela just made me a new one. It is good to live with a ceramicist. Unlike my old pestle, which was plain white porcelain, my new one is white porcelain with a gorgeous speckled-blue glaze of her own creation. You can't have one like mine (unless you ask very nicely), but it is easy to get your own mortar and pestle set if you don't have one. Unless you have specific needs otherwise, I'd get a relatively small set. Big mortar and pestle sets not only take up a lot of room, but can also be very heavy. While I haven't found a better solution for tiny jobs, I think that most big jobs that people would traditionally use a mortar and pestle for are more easily handled in a food processor.


These are great. I used to live in a group house with a huge mortar and pestle and I remember making awesome pesto with it. It has a much more rustic feel to it than when you just grind up everything in a processor.

I've since moved out of the house, but I need to get me a mortar and pestle. Thanks for the reminder.

Stuart, I like mortars & pestles so much that I have two - one about the size of a shot glass to handle things like a few peppercorns or cloves or other dried spices of that size, and one that holds about a cup and a half. If you ever want to experience hummus in a wonderful, rustic way - make it in your M&P, which is how I had it in a little Greek place in Orlando FL. Yep, I'll use the food processor for bigger quantities, but when it's just for me and a friend, I'll make the 'rustic' version (chickpeas, red onion, roasted garlic, capers, good olive oil, a couple black peppercorns.)

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