Perhaps you've decided to be more like the professional chefs you see on the TV cooking shows and you want to create every part of your recipe from scratch. When it comes to grinding food, many chefs use a pestle and mortar rather than a food processor. They feel that the essential aromas are lost when using a food processor or any other kind of electric grinding apparatus.
If you don't have a mortar and pestle and don't want to run to your favorite kitchen store, there is a way to make a makeshift substitute at home. You will need a smooth rock about the size of your fist, bleach, boiling water, a heavy wooden bowl, and plastic cling wrap.
- Wash the rock in hot water without using soap. Use a clean bristle brush and scrub any cracks and holes in the rock that may have dirt built up in them.
- Lay the rock in the sink and pour bleach over it to disinfect the rock. Don't let the rock soak in the bleach. Allow the wet bleach to stay on the rock for at least 10 minutes.
- Take plenty of boiling water and rinse the rock thoroughly on all sides.
- Allow the rock to completely cool. Make sure it is cool to the touch before going on to Step 5.
- Wrap plastic cling wrap tightly around the stone. You may even want to use more than one layer. The plastic wrap will keep food particles from getting ground into the textured surface of the rock.
- If you are grinding moist ingredients like garlic or fresh herbs, line a heavy wooden bowl with more of the plastic wrap. The wrap will keep odors from being left behind in the bowl after grinding. If you are grinding dry ingredients like peppercorns, you may leave the plastic wrap off of your wooden bowl.
- Now you are ready to grind. Use the plastic-covered rock as a pestle to crush the ingredients in the wooden bowl.
- When you are done, throw away the plastic. Save your new pestle for next time.
Here are some tips on how to properly use a pestle and mortar:
Always place only small quantities of your food at a time in the mortar.
Use downward pressure and a circular motion with the pestle.
If the material is hard, like peppercorns, move the pestle in a back and forth motion over the top of the material to break it into smaller pieces before you begin the downward pressure.