Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Dec 21, 2010 03:26 PM

How to clean a granite mortar and pestle?

I heard that one shouldn't wash a granite mortar and pestle with soap, because the soap water will permeate into the rock and contaminate whatever you grind next. How do I clean the mortar and pestle then? If I'm making pesto in it, there has to be some way to get the oily residue off.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I take a small handful of dry white rice and grind it into the bowl to pick up the residue. After a good cleaning wipe out the rice dust with a dry paper towel and you're good to go.

    1. Really? Granite is considered fairly non-porous. It is possible for detergent residue to get in the uneven surface, but I don't believe it will travel deep down inside the granite.

      I don't wash my granite mortar and pestle every single time after use. I don't worry about a little carry-over. However, when I do wash mortar, I do wash it with water and light amount of detergent, and then I dry it and grind white rice in it as HillJ stated. Grinding white rice is a very common practice.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        So it's ok for me to wash it out with soap?

        1. re: michaelnrdx

          I use either kosher salt or dry rice to clean mine. I have never dipped it in water or used detergent on it. Dry cloth.

          1. re: HillJ

            Is there a reason not to use soap? Chemicalkinetics says the soap doesn't permeate into the rock, so I'm assuming it can be rinsed off and shouldn't leave a soapy taste in whatever you grind next. And does using salt or rice get out all the oil if I'm making something like pesto?

            1. re: michaelnrdx

              I suppose most rocks are porous to some extents, but granite is fairly non-porous. I don't see any major problem if you are going to wash and rinse the mortar and pestle (as oppose to soaking them overnight).

              Here is a link which mentions it is fine to use dish detergent to clean granite mortar and pestle, but it discourages using strong scent dish detergent. I would agree to that. If you are going to use those super lemon scent detergents, then anything will carry the scent, not just the granite pestle, glasses, bowls, plates, flatwares, .. etc.


              1. re: michaelnrdx

                Perhaps just a preference. When I was given the mortar and pestle as a gift about 10 plus years ago I was told not to use water or soap on it. So I use the dry cleaning method. Both the rice & the salt clean out the residue well and leave no odor behind. You could always give it a try and see what your prefer.

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I would agree. I wash my marble one. It's pretty non porous as granite would be. if it's polished then there would be less chance for foods to get trapped like in a volcanic stone molcajete or other more porous materials.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Chem: "I don't wash my granite mortar and pestle every single time after use. I don't worry about a little carry-over."

              That's odd, right after I told my wife not to wash out our mortar, my Cialis started disappearing.. And the food tastes different ever since...

              1. re: kaleokahu

                What the? Are you suggest that Cialis is used as a powder for cleaning your mortar

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  No, it's just when I use the carryover now, everything's a little stronger and longer.... ;)

                2. re: kaleokahu

                  Let's hope she's not cooking for anyone else. Beware of potlucks! :o)

                  1. re: yfunk3

                    yfunk3: "Beware of potlucks! :o)"

                    Great idea for a CH recruitment drive! Happy Holidays.

              2. Not sure why anyone would advise you not to wash it if its granite. Granite should be fine as long as you use a mild soap; I wouldn't soak it though.

                Mine is lava rock and I can't wash it... it gets treated like cast iron in that I'll throw it in the oven when needed.

                1. i'm confused by the no water aspect. it's a rock. a very very hard rock.

                  granite gets rained on and not ruined all the time. granite sites at the bottom of lakes and oceans.

                  it's granite fer pete's sake

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: thew

                    good point, thew! I've never dunked the granite in water or soap but the inside of the bowl is not smooth, it's pitted and sandy to the touch. My concern remained harboring any residue against that interior and using a dry clean removes the res, odor and issue for me.

                    My granite counters on the other hand are treated differently.

                  2. Just wanted to say that you should put your mortar and pestle in an air tight bowl to keep water, food and dust away from it.