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Which Came First, the Mortar or the Pestle?

Written by Amy Snyder | September 28, 2007

The mortar and pestle is one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools. I love the ease at which they grind, mix, and inspire me to sing R. Kelly songs.

In my kitchen, the tool is primarily used for grinding herbs to use either in a paste for coating baked tofu or as a key ingredient in a mojito—one of my favorite cocktails. I sometimes like to use my mortar and pestle for making guacamole, too, but the tool has traditionally been used for much more.

In African countries, large wooden versions are used to pound yams and other ingredients and are a kitchen staple. In Mexican kitchens, the mortar and pestle, or molcajete, is made of volcanic rock and is used to mix salsas and moles and to grind corn—proof of which dates back more than 6,000 years. The tool is even commonly used for a little medicinal bump and grind.

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  • Natalie says:

    I don’t see nothin’ wrooong…. with a little mortar & pestle.. (!) 😀

    I’m so glad to have found your blog, Amy! It’s my go-to site whenever I get free time at work :] There have been so many fabulous-looking recipes that I’ve wanted to try for the past few weeks, but my apt’s been an absolute mess. The day has come- maids just came by this morning! Delicious new endeavors, here I come!!

  • Amy says:

    Hi Jaclyn! I usually eyeball it when making mojitos at home, so I don’t have a good recipe of my own. I found this one: on the Chowhound message boards, and it sounds about right. Be sure to use more of the simple syrup if you like a sweeter mojito, like me!

  • Jaclyn says:

    I ordered a mojito once at a Cuban restaurant (what better place to try one for the first time) and I did not like it. It was kind of plain (I thought it was supposed to be sweet)… I just did not like it. (Have I ever mentioned that there are not many drinks I dislike?).

    What is your recipe for making a GOOD< .I> mojito?