Can you ever season a molcajete?

homey_birdApril 5, 2014


During a recent trip to Mexico I bought a Molcajete (mexican mortar and pestle) set. Now, after coming back and reading through a few blogs, I see that the molcajete I bought may be authentic, but it will also take months to fully season, and during this process, we will eat guacamole that would taste a bit like the molcajete itself. I am ok but I know my family will not stand it!

So my question is, is there a quick way to season the instrument? Apparently the stone is so soft that it will get ground along with the food.

In the event that there is no easy process, I found some internet sites that sell granite molcajete. Sounds great to me! Granite is very hard so no threat of chipping and mixing in food. Is that a good idea at the cost of losing some authenticity in the process?

I would love to hear your pointers and experiences!

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Mine is made out of lava rock, and there is no way to season it to seal it, as it has no smooth surfaces. I actually do not use it very much and have it more for decoration. In fact, I keep it outside! I've used it for making salsa but never for guacamole, and it is difficult to clean.

What stone is yours made of?


    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:44PM
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My mother's used to stand on the sideboard, but what she taught me to make guacamole with is an old fashioned grid style potato masher. Stone ground masa is great, but I think they use the molcajete in restaurants because it looks good on show. The masher is a lot easier, goes in the DW and gives a better texture to the guacamole. Er, um, that's for doing half a dozen avocadoes at a time. For one or two, I use a big fork like the Mexican mamas I know. :) The texture of the molcajete is what grinds the corn, but if your avocado needs actual grinding you need to leave it in a paper bag in a warm spot for a week or so and hope it ripens. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 5:43PM
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Lars, mine is made of a rock but not Lava rock. The inside has a little coarser grain than granite but less than lava. It's a greyish rock that turns black when wet. I am thinking Basalt maybe? It's definitely a porous stone though.

Well, I have used my mom's mortar and pestle (not molcajete per se), and I have a marble M&P (which I bought ~20 years back and therefore do not remember if it shed any grit or not), which is tiny and is only meant to pound dry spices, and based on the experience, I can tell you that a M&P-made stuff tastes better than knife cut /food processor chopped stuff. I will not say the difference is a world apart but there is definitely more flavor to M&P made food. Now, whether to go through all the pain for getting that extra 2.75% improvement or not, is an individual choice, but currently I am interested in checking if my patience eventually runs out.

Also, I realized that I used the term "seasoning" wrong. I am mainly interested in making it grit-free. I do not really care about embedding flavors into the stone.

Thanks again, and more responses welcome!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:35AM
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I thought they did call it 'seasoning'. Not sure. One method i read was to give it a good scrub, dry, with a stiff wire brush, then sacrifice a bit of popcorn, un-popped, scrub again, then use dry white rice a few grinding batches. The stone/rock will show up in the rice if it needs further scrubbing.
I've had mine for years but never use it. It is the rough gritty type picked up in Mexico.
Probably a wire brush on a drill would work.
We use our other ones all the time. The smoother type for garlic/salt/rosemary to finish a white bean dish. No other method does that as well. Makes a paste very quickly.

Definitely a difference in quality. And different uses for the various styles. The more shallow the bowl shape, the easier made. Probably for the tourists. Not sure where mine is but i bet it is the cheaper souvenir model.
Maybe the more expensive quality ones are pre-'seasoned'. (?) Worked by hand to remove the grit before selling. Not sure but worth looking into.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 6:44AM
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Here ya go. this is great. And a good video!

Gives seasoning instructions...

Found mine. Freaky that it might be a fake. Remember now why we put it away and don't use it. Did not know back then about seasoning and did not like the grainy bits. Horrid that the fakes use concrete and very toxic if used..

(they call it a 'cure')..

Here is a link that might be useful: molcajete seasoning

This post was edited by sleevendog on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 11:24

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 11:22AM
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Hello all, I have gone through a few more articles and steps with my molcajete and thought I'd share what I know by now for everyone who has so far contributed and/or posterity.

- Regarding figuring out if your molcajete is made of lave rock or cement: wash it in water and let it dry completely. Then grind a tomato in it.

Only if your molcajete is made of lava rock, will you see grit mixed into tomato. Cement will not mix. Also, after about 7-10 minutes of grinding, smell the puree. If it smells like sulphur, then molcajete is authentic.

- To season : wash again, let dry and grind dry rice and all the other things mentioned here. By the time I ground my first batch of rice, my molcajate is already halfway seasoned. My rice is quite fine now, though I can grind it finer (and plan to) -- and it's not very dark grey. Tells me that most of the grit it had has been ground already and little bit is left.

Overall, I do not think it will need much more seasoning. I should be able to use it in next couple weeks or so!

I'm excited!! Thanks for helping me get here.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 3:13PM
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I have only ever had cooked meals in a molcajete I asked at the restaurant they season theirs with rice then treat them much like cast iron don't wash but cook out the insides over a fire grill.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:04PM
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Silicone carbide powder of progressive finer grits is what they use to rub two pieces of glass to form concave/convex astronomical telescope lenses.

You can try to do that to get from a rough to a mirror smooth finish on your molcajete.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:06PM
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Timely post for me. We picked up this granite mortar and Costco and have been seasoning it with rice. It's about 8" and the box pictured it full of guacamole makings...does that make it a molcajete? What exactly makes it one or the other? Material, size, shape?

Not sure if I'll be making guac in it...I just moosh everything with a fork...much easier to clean.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:24PM
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That's a beauty. It is a molcajete, the 'smoosher', the mortar, is a tejalote.
Probably already seasoned and ready to go but i would give it a rice, salt, a bit of water grinding and a few rinses of water. Don't ever use soap. It sucks down into the pores and is hard to remove.
I would use it for guacamole. Start with a few cloves of garlic, a bit of salt and some coriander seeds. That base paste will clings to the bowl and its side, then peppers, then the rest. Would be great for a salsa.
Maybe not every day. Use it for a party, have the ingredients ready and bowl-side, and have a willing curious guest do all the work. ; (someone always ask, "what can i do to help?", haha)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 7:54AM
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My mexican one i'm convinced is a concrete fake. The tejalote is real. It is obvious. The base 'bowl' is concrete me thinks. They look so different. Don't care much for kitchen decoration. I want useful tools that are only decoration when not used.
Love my vintage ones and have no idea what they were used for. Maybe grain? Or maple sugar rock...The residue in the void i scraped out looks like sugar. Not about to taste it but it is not spice. The large bowl is a foot across.
They are from an estate sale in the Catskill mtns.
(the small one is more modern chemist that i bought in art school yrs ago. Never used for pigment, the mortar broke so we use one of the vintage ones and use it at least once a week.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:58AM
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Regarding the question on what to use molcajete for. It's really meant to be used for making salsas, guacomole and sauces. But you can use it for making curry pastes, chutneys etc. Yes, it's a lot of work but if you care to do it, you will find the flavor is worth the trouble.

If the one you purchased at Costco is made of granite, then it may not need a lot of seasoning. Granite is diffrerent than Lava rock and will not chip away slowly like Lava Rock. Also, it is not as porous so most likely mild soap water ok. If you have a dishwasher that does not heat dry, then you can wash it in dishwater too.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:48PM
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How can you tell if these are food safe? What is lava rock?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 10:35PM
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