We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Mortar and Pestle?

Hillary Flynn
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A mortar and pestle are tools used in the process of trituration, which is the act of reducing substances to small particles by rubbing them in a mortar with a pestle. The mortar is a small, heavy bowl and the pestle is a thick, heavy, stick-like tool with a rounded bottom, somewhat like a short, squat baseball bat. They're usually made from hard wood, porcelain, stone, or marble. A substance is placed in the mortar, then the pestle is used to grind against the substance, using downward pressure and a circular motion.

The pestle should be placed in the center of the mortar to begin, starting with small circles, then gradually moving outward to create a bigger circular motion, in a concentric fashion. When the circular revolution reaches the sides of the mortar, the action is reversed, moving from large circles to smaller circles. The cycle continues until the substance is completely pulverized.

The mortar and pestle were first introduced in medicinal practice. Medicines and herbs were crushed before being ingested by the patient. Reducing substances to the smallest particle size speeds up the absorption of medicines. These tools are documented in the practice of pharmacy as far back as 1550 BCE, and are still a popular icon used in pharmaceutical logos. Generally, a mortar and pestle for pharmaceutical purposes is made of porcelain.

Another popular use of the mortar and pestle is to grind or crush spices and other items used in cooking. Mexican fare made with mortar and pestle includes guacamole, salsa, and moles. Japanese chefs use these tools to grind sesame seeds and make pastes, and large mortar and pestles in the Middle East are used for grinding meat. Pesto, an Italian sauce made by crushing garlic and herbs, derived its name from the pestle. From Latin, mortar means "receptacle for grinding or pounding", and pestle means "pounder."

Grinding spices and herbs right before adding them to foods offers the freshest and most concentrated flavors. Though some favor food processors for the ease of use, others still use a mortar and pestle to release the oils and flavor essences, claiming a superior end product. These tools don't use as much friction as does a food processor, so the aromas don't burn off like they may in a food processor. This gentler approach is favored by many cooks, despite the added labor.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Hillary Flynn
By Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the DelightedCooking team, where she contributes well-researched articles on various topics. In addition to her work with DelightedCooking, Hillary manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. With a passion for satirical writing and traveling to historical places, Hillary brings a distinctive voice to her content.
Discussion Comments
Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the DelightedCooking team, where she contributes well-researched...
Learn more
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.