A molcajete is a grinding tool and is a Mexican stone version of the mortar. A tejolote is the Mexican pestle that grinds the item with the molcajete. Molcajetes and tejolotes are used to grind and pulverize ingredients much like a manual version of an electric blender. Although granite is a good material for molcajetes, it may be difficult to find pure granite molcajetes.
What is a Molcajete?
A molcajete and tejolote, or mortar and pestle, are used to crush peppers, garlic and other spices or used to make guacamole, mole and salsa. Molcajetes are usually round and shaped like a bowl with three legs. Often adorned with a head of an animal, such as a pig or ram, the molcajete resembles the animal standing on three legs. A staple tool in preparing Mexican cuisine, a molcajete can add authenticity when making your own meals.
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Historical Molcajete Materials
Molcajetes have been found in the Tehuacan Valley as long as 6,000 years ago. Used by Aztecs and Mayans, traditional molcajetes are made of basalt, a dark, porous, rough volcanic stone. The basalt was used because its weight and texture made it good for grinding. The porous material allowed the molcajete to become seasoned over a period of time much like today's cast iron skillets. A well-seasoned molcajete lends a deeper, more complex flavor to foods.
Advantages of Granite Molcajetes
Modern molcajetes are made of a wide variety of materials that includes wood, plastic, concrete, glass and different types of stones. Granite is a favorable material for molcajetes because of its durability. The smooth, polished surface of granite is ideal for crushing spices and foods. Chefs also like the weight of the granite molcajete because it does not slide around against the pressure of the tejolote. Granite is also beautiful and will last as long as it is well cared for.
Disadvantages of Granite Molcajetes
Some foods and spices tend not to crush well in granite molcajetes because of the smooth surface. Less effort is needed to grind ingredients against a grittier surface such as basalt. Although granite does have some porosity, its pores are not large enough to easily accept the salt and garlic used to season molcajetes. Granite is not a traditional molcajete material, but in the long run, many find it is the material they prefer.