How to Use a Mortar and Pestle

4 When you’ve graduated beyond pre-packaged spices and you’re ready to grind your own fresh cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, cumin and more, there’s no more useful tool than a mortar and pestle. Spices, garlic, nuts or seeds are placed in the mortar, then crushed with the pestle, releasing their fresh flavors and oils. You’ll really notice the difference in taste! See Step 1 to learn how to use a mortar and pestle to step your cooking up a few notches.