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Seasoning molcajete, question re grit

Felila Apr 27, 2013 10:05 PM

I just bought a large, inexpensive molcajete (stone mortar and pestle) from Costco. I hope that it's a good buy. The stone seems to be close-grained granite, which should not be too gritty. I am seasoning it by grinding rice. Looking forward to better green papaya salad.

My question: I read somewhere online that using a stone pestle in a stone mortar can produce grit, and that it's better to use a wooden pestle in a stone mortar. That seems plausible but ... humans have been using stone pestles in stone mortars for a few millennia. What I find online, and in my wonderful Gran Cocina Latina cookbook, is that it's perfectly OK to use stone on stone if the implements are properly seasoned. Which may take a while. Older the better. Children fighting over mom's molcajete after her death :)

What do you think? Should I use the wooden pestle from my suribachi, or should I use the stone pestle that came with my molcajete?

  1. JayL Apr 27, 2013 10:43 PM

    I would use it as intended.

    1. Chemicalkinetics Apr 27, 2013 11:31 PM

      I would use stone. Do it a few times, and then most of the loose pieces would have gone.

      1. t
        thimes Apr 28, 2013 08:26 AM

        I have a lava rock molcajete that I've been using for years (stone on stone) and after I seasoned it with rice (like you are doing) I've never had a gritty problem. And it is much more rough than what a granite would be.

        1 Reply
        1. re: thimes
          nokitchen Apr 28, 2013 08:10 PM

          I've also got a basalt one and heck, I "seasoned' it with serranos, white onions and avocado! (OK, I did a halfhearted rice crush too, once, as much to learn how to work the thing as to "season" it.) Also no problems. I didn't use it for crushing spices for the first few uses for fear of grit but I probably could have.

          A lot of people on this board seem to have an unreasonable obsession with seasoning things. I promise you that our great grandparents spent exactly zero time worrying about whether to coat their newfangled cast iron pan in flaxseed oil or vegetable shortening.

        2. s
          Spooneb Apr 28, 2013 02:28 PM

          I bought the same one! The price was right and even if I ended up just serving guasacaca from it instead of making it in the molcajete, I figured it was worth it. I've been using rock salt as the rice was jumping out too much. A few more rounds then its avocado time!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Spooneb
            Felila Apr 28, 2013 07:15 PM

            Yeah, I know what you mean about jumping out :(

            1. re: Spooneb
              smartscallion Jul 10, 2013 09:18 AM

              You're probably well past needing this advice by now. But if you just put a tiny bit of cold water in with the rice it wont jump out. That's what the instructions that came with mine suggested.

            2. f
              Felila Apr 29, 2013 04:29 PM

              An online friend of mine who is a fearless cook says that wood pestle in large ceramic mortar is standard in SE Asian cooking. She, of course, has one of these as well as a molcajete :) She says that she prefers the SE Asian mortar and pestle for SE Asian dishes; she doesn't want to completely pulverize the ingredients, just mash them together lightly. She suggests using my wooden pestle for green papaya salad, and the stone one for Latin American dishes. I will have to do some experiments.

              1. CindyJ Apr 30, 2013 06:27 AM

                I bought my molcajete off the housewares shelf of a nearby Mexican grocery store. Compared to the prices I've seen at W-S, mine was very well priced at about $22. I seasoned mine with rice. It took a while, but it's really okay to use it with the tejolote (stone pestle). I make guacamole right in the molcajete and I never have any grit.

                1. j
                  jscout May 7, 2013 11:01 AM

                  Probably to late for you, but for someone else. I bought the same one, $15! I only ran through twice. The first with course salt. It pulverized that after a minute. So I move on to extra dry basmati rice. That took much more work. After about 20 minutes, some sweat, and rice like cornmeal. I stopped. That was it for seasoning. Made Guac for Cinco de Mayo there wasn't grit to be found anywhere.

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