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How to clean a granite mortar and pestle?

michaelnrdx Dec 21, 2010 03:26 PM

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.

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  1. h
    HillJ RE: michaelnrdx Dec 21, 2010 03:33 PM

    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. Chemicalkinetics RE: michaelnrdx Dec 21, 2010 05:52 PM

      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
        michaelnrdx RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 21, 2010 06:09 PM

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

        1. re: michaelnrdx
          HillJ RE: michaelnrdx Dec 21, 2010 07:19 PM

          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
            michaelnrdx RE: HillJ Dec 21, 2010 07:26 PM

            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
              Chemicalkinetics RE: michaelnrdx Dec 21, 2010 08:07 PM

              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
                HillJ RE: michaelnrdx Dec 22, 2010 05:16 AM

                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
            scubadoo97 RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 21, 2010 07:45 PM

            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
              kaleokahu RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 21, 2010 09:45 PM

              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
                Chemicalkinetics RE: kaleokahu Dec 22, 2010 07:15 AM

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

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  kaleokahu RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 22, 2010 08:47 AM

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

                2. re: kaleokahu
                  yfunk3 RE: kaleokahu Dec 22, 2010 09:39 AM

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

                  1. re: yfunk3
                    kaleokahu RE: yfunk3 Dec 24, 2010 09:11 AM

                    yfunk3: "Beware of potlucks! :o)"

                    Great idea for a CH recruitment drive! Happy Holidays.

              2. c
                cabojenn RE: michaelnrdx Dec 23, 2010 06:52 PM

                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. thew RE: michaelnrdx Dec 24, 2010 09:18 AM

                  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
                    HillJ RE: thew Dec 24, 2010 10:04 AM

                    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. s
                    snowflakeleona RE: michaelnrdx Oct 29, 2013 01:26 PM

                    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.

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