Cleaning Your Mortar And Pestle Isn't Actually That Complicated

Mortar and pestles have been a kitchen staple for centuries. These manual mashers guarantee that flavor seeps into your creamy guacamole dips and fresh herb mixes. However, many cooks are intimidated by the potential upkeep of these classic grinders, as it's easy to damage their seasoned surface if you're not careful. But while cleaning your mortar and pestle isn't as easy as throwing it in the dishwasher, you'll be happy to hear that all it requires is a little scrub with water. Since mortars and pestles are made of porous materials that soak up flavors, you don't even need soap.

Start by rinsing your mortar and pestle under warm water to remove any remaining residue from its surface. Next, take out a kitchen brush to scrub off any stubborn bits from the inside, and you're basically done cleaning at that point. You could opt for a regular sponge depending on the material of your mortar and pestle, but keep in mind that bristles have an easier time penetrating those gritty surfaces.

Skip the dish soap

Detergent is probably not a flavor profile you want in your guacamole, so if you're using a mortar and pestle to make it, you'll want to keep soap away from the grinder as well. Because many mortars and pestles are made with materials such as basalt or granite, cleaning agents like soap might seep into their surface. This is especially a problem if you've already gone through the trouble of testing the authenticity of your molcajete — which involves confirming the presence of pores in its material, to enhance flavor — and have taken the time to season it properly.

Still, there are moments when gunk just never comes off your dishes. If you feel like you must use dish soap to thoroughly clean your mortar and pestle, the same rules apply as if you were cleaning a cast iron skillet. Opt for a mild variant that does not have any scent to minimize the chances that you'll ruin the delicate coating of your manual grinder. And even then, it's highly unlikely that you'll need a strong detergent to clean your mortar and pestle as long as you're using it properly.

Remember to dry your mortar and pestle

Drying your traditional molcajete might be the most crucial step in preserving its complex flavors. Mold can grow inside and on the exterior of these absorptive grinders when they are not properly dried. Therefore, you'll want to pat down your mortar and pestle with a kitchen towel after cleaning, and let it fully dry out on your kitchen countertop before usage. To ensure all the water comes out, feel free to turn it over on its head for a while.

That kitchen towel also serves a few purposes while you leave your mortar and pestle out on the kitchen counter. The cloth will catch any stray moisture that leaks out of the molcajete as it finishes drying out, and it'll also serve as a barrier between its stony base and your kitchen counters. Just make sure to use a dry, clean towel as well in order to minimize the chance of mildew spreading into its surface.