For thousands and thousands of years, the cast iron mortar and pestle was one of the very few necessities that our ancestors relied on for cooking up some of their favorite foods. In fact, our predecessors had a fire, and they sharpened any rocks they could find for cutting and used vessels to carry or contain their food. But most importantly, they had cast iron, stones, and wood to grind and pound all their ingredients into the perfect textures.
Today, the cast iron mortar and pestle still remains an essential and crucial tool in most culinary traditions around the entire world. It should be recognized as one of the most versatile utensils in a kitchen and definitely deserves to be treated as any essential would be in your household. It’s the weapon behind all those secret ingredients most professional chefs use when creating extraordinary cuisines.
But for the average household, it continues to deliver the best results. It can do what no other item in your kitchen does: smashing all those fine fibers and cells apart to strategically transform their texture and use while releasing their full flavors and aromas. That’s something your Vitamix or expensive blender will never be able to accomplish!
Here are our top picks for the best cast iron mortar and pestle:
1. Fox Run Mortar and Pestle
This uniquely designed cast iron mortar and pestle made by Fox Run is everything you need to get the freshest ingredients from all your seeds and spices. It’s made from durable, heavy-duty cast iron that makes grinding super easy and effective. The deep well allows your ingredients to stay inside the cast iron mortar and pestle while being grounded.
You can use this cast iron mortar and pestle with an array of ingredients that is certain to add flavor to all your recipes. Plus, the traditional look is the perfect addition to any kitchen.
Size: 4 x 4.5 x 3.5 Inches
Weight: 2.4 lbs.
2. Oval Cast Iron Mortar & Pestle With Pouring Spout
If you’re looking for a cast iron mortar and pestle that is modern and sleek looking, then you’ll want to check out this one made by Zassenhaus. This cast iron mortar and pestle is in the shape of an oval and is the perfect tool for grinding all your herbs and spices. It steps out of the traditional style and will last a lifetime.
This cast iron mortar and pestle is made from solid cast iron and is extremely durable. It comes with a pouring spout that works excellent for both wet and dry ingredients. The wood handle is a nice touch that adds just the right amount of flair.
Size: 7 x 3.5 x 2 Inches
Weight: 1.94 lbs.
3. New Age Incense Cast Iron Cauldron Mortar and Pestle Set
This cast iron cauldron looking mortar and pestle set is perfect for anybody who wants to add some medieval style to their home. It comes with a handle and three legs that act as a pedestal for the cast iron mortar and pestle. Its old-world design is perfect for crushing or grinding many different ingredients while maintaining the flavors.
Some people even like to use this cast iron mortar and pestle set to burn incense and add it to a room that helps strike up many conversations. It’s made from durable cast iron and will last for many generations when properly cared for.
Size: 3.2 x 1.5 x 4.6 inches
Weight: 1.5 lbs
4. Skeppshult Cast Iron Mortar & Pestle
This cast iron mortar and pestle from Skeppshult brings the ancient tradition and look into your home. It’s made from high-quality cast iron that is entirely chemical free and is backed by a 25 year warranty. This cast iron mortar and pestle was made by hand in Sweden and would compliment any kitchen’s decor.
If you want to get the freshest flavors possible from all your herbs and spices, then you’ll want to use this fabulous looking Skeppshult cast iron mortar and pestle.
Size: 6 x 4 x 4 Inches
Weight: 2.52 lbs.
5. Heavy Duty Cast Iron Mortar and Pestle
This easy to clean cast iron mortar and pestle is designed with ancient history in mind. The look and feel will take you back centuries while adding fabulous flavors to all your cuisines. It’s made from heavy duty cast iron and is perfect for powdering spices, grains, herbs, garlic, and crushing nuts.
You can easily use this daily with your cooking needs or put it on display as a conversational piece. This cast iron mortar and pestle should last you a lifetime without staining or discoloring.
Size: 11 x 9 cm
Weight: 1.82 kg
Do Cast Iron Mortar and Pestle Need to be Seasoned?
In short, the answer is a definite yes! Especially if you want to be able to enjoy many years of use with your cast iron mortar and pestle. Just like most cast iron cookware, you have to season it before ever using it. This helps prevent potential rust from forming and also makes cleanup super easy.
If using your cast iron mortar and pestle regularly for grinding, you’ll need to re-season as necessary. The grinding action that consistently happens when dealing with herbs and spices will slowly eat away at the seasoning layer on your cast iron mortar and pestle.
Note: Be mindful of how much vegetable oil you use to season your cast iron mortar and pestle. You don’t want any excess oil gathering in the well while trying to grind up any dry ingredients.
How do You Clean a Cast Iron Pestle and Mortar?
One of the best traits of using a cast iron mortar and pestle is how easy they are to clean and maintain. You just simply wash your cast iron mortar and pestle with warm water, a little bit of mild soap, and then you’ll rinse and dry it. The most crucial step here is to make sure you dry it completely!
Don’t use any harsh chemicals or detergents on your cast iron mortar and pestle; it can damage it and will probably remove all of your seasonings. Once your cast iron pestle and mortar is completely dry, go ahead and apply a light coat of vegetable oil or your favorite oil that you usually use on all of your cast iron cookware to maintain its performance.
If you find that your cast iron pestle and mortar has begun to retain some of the strong odors from the herbs or spices you are crushing, you can try and pour some dry white rice into the cast iron mortar and then use the pestle to help grind it into a very fine powder. This will help eliminate the smells and be sure to discard the rice when finished.
You can also repeat this process as much as necessary, but be mindful of your cast iron mortar and pestle seasoning. If you find that it has lost most of the seasoning while using the dry white rice, you should re-season your cast iron mortar and pestle after you’ve removed the odors from your herbs and spices. This can definitely be true when crushing garlic, which tends to linger for a period of time after each use.
Should I Wash My Mortar and Pestle?
Your cast iron mortar and pestle will need to be rinsed with warm water and dried thoroughly after each use unless you are continuously using it for the same herbs and the remnants don’t disturb your other spices and herbs. Some people like the look and aroma that crushed herbs and spices bring to the kitchen and just simply wipe their cast iron mortar and pestle out with some dry paper towels.
The less you wash it, the longer the seasoning will last on your cast iron mortar and pestle. However, suppose you’re continually making guacamole or using other types of wet ingredients. In that case, it is recommended to wash your cast iron mortar and pestle regularly with warm water and mild soap.
As always, be sure that you are drying your cast iron mortar and pestle completely to prevent it from rusting. Keep in mind that cast iron’s density is approximately three times higher than granite or marble, which means it is going to be a much heavier mortar and pestle. So be sure that you are carrying and washing your cast iron mortar and pestle with the utmost attention.
On the brighter side, even though the weight of your cast iron mortar and pestle means more arm muscle is needed and could result in some fatigue. It always gives your ingredients a much better grinding result compared to any of the other materials used in making a mortar and pestle set.