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I bought a wooden (uhh, stained bamboo?) mortar and pestle today at an asian supermarket. I liked it because it looked nice and it was pretty large, especially for the price. I was also thinking that the larger size would help with peppercorns not flying out of it -- and landing ... somewhere... wait where did that go anyway?

I have to wonder though: are there any downsides to an MP set made of wood?

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3 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There are at least three potential downsides:

  1. wood is quite light, so you will not get the benefit of added weight of the pestle for crushing;
  2. many wooden mortars have a smooth texture, which will not aid in the grinding as much as, e.g., a coarse ceramic mortar; and
  3. wood is porous—increasingly so as it dries over time—so it may have the tendency to pick up the flavors of its contents.
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Ack, doesn't seem like such a good deal now. Wonder if I can get my money back. –  jcollum Apr 11 '11 at 22:48
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I think you might find that such a pestle and mortar is only used for crushing herbs that are frequently used (every day) in asian cookery, like cilantro or Kaffir lime leaves. It is going to be difficult to clean, and that wood stain might come out into the food - whatever the stain is.

It might not even be intended for food use - perhaps you should have asked when you bought it.

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I have seen these large wooden mortar and pestles in Thailand. They use it for all sorts of som tams (spicy salads). The most recognized and popular one being Thai papaya salad. Its made from unripened shredded papaya and is very delicious. It's not hard to make and you can google recipes easily.

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