- For dry ingredients, a wooden mortar and pestle are best. For wet ingredients, use a non-absorbent stone mortar and pestle.
- Place the food to be crushed in the mortar and pound on it gently but firmly with an up-and down motion. The power of the action is determined by the stubbornness of the food being reduced.
- To make salad dressing, mash garlic with salt to a paste. Add mustard and vinegar and work them in with the pestle. Slowly add the olive oil, stirring and pounding with the pestle until the dressing emulsifies.
- The next time a recipe calls for crushed garlic, reach for you mortar and pestle. They work as well as your garlic press. Use your mortar and pestle to crush whole spices (cloves, allspice, cumin, coriander, peppercorns) to a coarse grind or fine powder.
- Break walnuts or other nuts into coarse pieces by lightly pounding them in a mortar with a pestle. The pounding and grinding slowly releases the natural oils and other flavor elements in foods, which heightens their flavor when combined with other ingredients. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a mound of fresh basil leaves will collapse into a soft paste when pounded in a mortar, making this tool ideal for pesto.