How to Prepare a New Marble Mortar for Its First Use
Why does a new marble mortar need a preparation process before its first use?
The purpose of this technique is to remove any marble stone grit and powder from the mortar (the bowl) before your first use so that grit does not get in your food. All ingredients used in this preparation will be discarded. This process takes about 15 minutes and only needs to be done this one time. Hereafter you just enjoy making the most flavorful pestos, pastes, emulsions, and dressings ever.
Preparing your new marble mortar is also a great way to get familiar with it and it becomes yours.
Note: Preparing a new mortar is also described as “conditioning” or “seasoning” or “curing” a new mortar. The word is different and the process varies, but the result is the same in that any residual stone powder left from the manufacturing is removed.
Rinse the Marble Mortar & Pestle
To get a clean start, rinse the mortar and pestle with water to remove any surface dust. Do not soak the pestle if it is wood. Like all wooden tools, soaking or being wet for long periods will lead to splitting, warping and even mold (not a good thing). After rinsing, dry both thoroughly with a towel. Once that is done you can move to the next step.
Why Grind Coarse Salt (or rice) in the Mortar?
Grinding a hard substance like coarse salt will help loosen any marble grit in the interior. If you do not have coarse salt, uncooked white rice can be substituted as it will do the same job. I choose salt because it is an ingredient (albeit sparingly) that is used in a mortar and will help to get familiar with how the pestle interacts with the mortar. Coarse salt (and uncooked rice) are hard enough to handle this step. Rice will be harder to grind with this wood pestle. Discard the salt (or rice if used) after this step. It is no longer fit to be consumed.
Why Crush Garlic?
Crushed garlic becomes sticky and will assist removing any residual stone grit because it will stick to the garlic paste, essentially wiping the mortar interior clear of grit and powder. Starting with sliced garlic instead of whole gets the crushing process going quicker. Adding some coarse salt will also speed up this step. Once the garlic pieces are crushed enough it will start to become one paste in the mortar and further crushing you will see the garlic start to slip away from the marble.
Why Baking Soda?
Baking soda is a mild abrasive and will clear the mortar of any garlic stuck to the sides after rinsing. It will also remove garlic odor from both the mortar and the pestle. Baking soda is one of my most used cleansers for kitchen tools and cookware.
Tools Used in this Recipe
- Marble Mortar & Pestle
- 1/4 measuring cup (3 tablespoons is equal to 1/4 cup)
- Kitchen knife
- flexible spatula
- Clean kitchen towel
- 3 Tbls Coarse Salt or an equal amount of uncooked white rice
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 3 Tbls Baking Soda
- Rinse your new marble mortar and wooden pestle or a dish brush well. Dry both the mortar and pestle thoroughly.
- Add the coarse salt to the mortar and start grinding with the pestle. Press and crush the salt by rotating the pestle in a circular motion and bring the salt up the mortar sides to crash salt against the entire bowl interior.
- Discard this salt.
- Roughly slice 4 cloves of garlic then add to the mortar. To crush, tap the cloves a few times to start to break up the sliced cloves.Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of coarse salt. Continue in a circular or rotating motion with the pestle in the bowl base, then up the sides. Once the garlic is fully crushed and starts become one and/or slips away from the sides of the bowl you can remove the garlic.
- Discard this garlic paste.
- Rinse the mortar and pestle. Dry thoroughly with a towel.Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda. Then add water a little at a time until it forms a thick paste with the baking soda. Press and rotate the pestle in the bowl base and up the bowl sides to thoroughly clean the mortar bowl interior.
- Rinse the mortar and pestle thoroughly until no baking soda is left and the bowl and pestle feel and look clean. The mortar bowl will still feel rough as it should, but a little less ridged than before this process.Dry both really well with a towel and set the pestle if made of wood on a dish rack or across the top of the mortar bowl so the wood will thoroughly air dry.
Your new mortar & pestle are now ready to use to make the best pestos and emulsions ever!