Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I want to get a mortar and pestle to make guacamole with, but no sure what the differences are between granite and porcelain. The porcelain ones are cheaper, but the granite variety have more weight (i think that might make it easier to grind/mash things). However, the granite sets are more porous, so i think they might be harder to clean. Does anyone have any advice they can lend?

share|improve this question
1  
I have a granite one, and my big gripe with it is the smoothness of the stone makes stuff slide around more than grind, but that may not make much difference with something as soft as avocadoes. –  Emily Anne Dec 13 '12 at 6:36
7  
For guacamole just use a bowl (glass or steel) and a fork! For spices use a spice grinder. Granite dust is just what the dentist ordered! –  TFD Dec 13 '12 at 8:24
    
+1 for @TFD's comment. I have a couple or more mortars but smash guacamole (avocado + tomato, both cut in cubes) directly in the bowl where it will be served. –  J.A.I.L. Dec 13 '12 at 10:09
2  
@TFD Agree re the guacamole, don't agree re the grinder for spices. Grinders heat spices up through friction which can cause some to start releasing essential oils. Also, for wet spice pastes particularly in small quantities a mortar and pestle is the only option. A mortar and pestle is a useful addition to any kitchen. –  spiceyokooko Dec 13 '12 at 13:12
3  
@spiceyokooko the heat loses are negligible, and I would rather add another pinch of spice, than grind away my teeth –  TFD Dec 15 '12 at 0:41

3 Answers 3

Porcelain or ceramic ones are:

ceramic glazed husked mortar with wooden pestle

  • lighter

    You'll have to grab them with one hand to use them.

  • easier to break
  • cheaper

    This is related with the last point.

  • glazed

    Porcelain ones don't need to be so, but ceramic ones are. It gives them a smoother surface, but some parts of the shell might husk off.

    It is not affected by acids (marble mortars will), and avoids the porcelain to absorb liquids (mostly oils, which will stay there forever). This is relevant for smashing avocados, as they are greasy and this kind of

Granite mortars are:

  • unbreakable

    Or very hard to break

  • heavier

    Harder to move from one place to other, but won't move off when you are using them. They also tend to have a wider base, so are more stable, for the same reason.

    This might be useful when emulsifying oils, as in mayonnaise or allioli, as you can have the pestle in one hand, and the oil you are pouring in the other one: you don't need to grab them due to their weight.

  • coarser

    Having a rougher surface makes them more suitable for grinding finer or emulsifying oils.

  • porous

    They'll absorb tastes and oils. You can't wash them with soap/detergent (as it will also be absorbed).

    It should be taken into consideration if planning to add them oils or greasy stuff like avocados.

share|improve this answer
2  
FWIW, I find that glazed ceramic mortars are useless. A mortar needs friction in order to break stuff down. –  FuzzyChef Dec 15 '12 at 5:18
    
I have put the pestle straight through the bottom of a ceramic mortar before now. Granite (or marble) ftw! –  ElendilTheTall Dec 15 '12 at 9:50
1  
@FuzzyChef glazed mortars are often paired with wooden pestles, and it's the wood what makes the stuff not to slide. –  J.A.I.L. Dec 15 '12 at 18:37

Neither.

The traditional instrument for making guacamole, and other Mexican mashed and ground preparations, is the mocaljete, which is similar to a mortar & pestle, but made with a shorter pestle and out of black basalt, a rough volcanic stone:

Mocaljete

A regular mortar and pestle out of ceramic or granite will not work for a fat, squishy fruit like avocado; it will just squish around and out of the bowl. You need the rough, pitted texture of the volcanic stone to "grab" the avocado pulp.

Personally, I find that the ideal tool for making guacamole or avocado salsas is actually a regular mixing bowl and a heavy pastry blender:

heavy pastry blender

... but even a large metal serving fork will work fairly well. Better than a regular mortar and pestle will.

share|improve this answer

When it comes to equipment, I consider Cook's Illustrated to be the Consumer Reports of cooking and refer to them. They recommend granite, or at least the one they recommend is granite. The Cilio (Frieling) Goliath. I'll refer you to their January 2012 edition to find their commentary about mortars and their full review (available at most libraries). You can read their commentary here: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/equipment/overview.asp?docid=36031

We bought one just last month but haven't used it yet.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.