This is actual footage of Mexican artisans carving authentic molcajetes from basalt. This is a beautiful demonstration of the talent and precision that goes into each handcrafted piece. It is always hard for us to wrap our heads around the fact that this rough shapeless rock ends up being a nearly perfect, symmetrical piece that is functional, will last a lifetime and assist in preparing some of the best dishes you will ever have. Artemex proudly offers authentic Mexican molcajetes in a variety of sizes that are all handcrafted using this traditional technique.
Did you know?
Molcajetes were used by pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican cultures, including the Aztec and Maya, going back several thousand years. They are traditionally carved out of a single block of vesicular basalt which is a igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of magnesium and iron rich lava – it is often referred to as ‘volcanic rock’ or ‘lava rocks’. Molcajetes are typically round in shape and supported by three short legs and is used with a tejolote which is the hand held grinding tool. The rough surface of the basalt stone creates a superb grinding surface that maintains itself over time as tiny bubbles in the basalt are ground down, replenishing the textured surface.
A new molcajete needs to be ‘cured’ or ‘broken in’ because small grains of basalt can be loosened from the surface when it is first used. This can be done by grinding raw rice and sea salt inside the bowl until the rice turns grey, empty and repeat until the rice no longer turns grey. As the porous basalt is impossible to fully clean after use molcajetes are known to ‘season’, carrying over flavors from one preparation to another. Molcajetes are used to crush and grind spices and to prepare salsas, guacamole and other delicious dishes. They can also be used as a cooking tool, where they are heated to high temperatures using an open fire or hot coals and then used to heat its food contents. The molcajete will stay hot for a very long time due to its high thermal mass and it is not unusual for dishes to still be bubbling half an hour after serving.