Marble mortar and pestles are preferred by many chefs because they are nonporous and will not absorb odours from the foods they crush. Very often, when you purchase a marble mortar and pestle that is all you get. Neither the box nor an instruction booklet tells you how to clean the mortar and pestle after use. Luckily, marble mortar and pestles are very simple to clean.
Use a damp sponge to wipe away spice residue between grindings. Dry thoroughly before grinding the next dry spice.
Wash the mortar and pestle in hot, soapy water if a damp sponge doesn't remove the dry spice residue. Use a stiff brush to remove any spice that may cling to the grinding end of the pestle.
Allow the mortar and pestle to air dry before putting it away in the cabinet.
Remove the wet ingredients from the mortar as soon as they have been ground to the desired consistency.
Wash the mortar and pestle with hot, soapy water as soon as possible. Use the stiff brush to remove any ingredients that are sticking to the sides of the mortar or the end of the pestle.
Air dry and store until needed.
The mortar and pestle may need no more than a wipe with a damp sponge if only dry ingredients were used. A tablespoon of white vinegar added to the soapy water can help remove stubborn oil from the mortar and pestle during washing. Both the mortar and pestle can be washed in the top rack of your dishwasher if you are sure it is made of marble and not ceramic. Ceramic may break or crash during the wash cycle. Marble mortars and pestles come in a variety of sizes and colours. Most are relatively inexpensive and can be found in health food stores, herb shops and some grocery stores. If you find yourself grinding a wide variety of herbs, spices or using the mortar and pestle to make sauces, you may want to own several of different sizes. When purchasing a new mortar and pestle, be sure to inspect both the mortar and the pestle cracks in the marble. Even a hairline crack can allow chipping or breaking when heavy pressure is applied.