This instructable was born out of necessity. It was summer... I wanted a Mojito... I had no muddler. So instead of buying one, which would have required finding a store that sold one or waiting to have one shipped, I made one. Besides, peer reviewed research has shown that 100% of those who consume Mojitos *IN MODERATION* become happier individuals. Note: by peer reviewed, I mean making them for friends and asking them what they thought. Mojitos are delicious drinks that provide a use for any spearmint one may have in their back yard. Even if you're not of legal drinking age you can omit the rum and just use mint, lime, sugar and club soda to make a delicious and refreshing summer drink. Having a handmade muddler is also an excellent conversation piece for your next BBQ!
Step 1: Materials Required
Robison four-way rasp
Various grits of sandpaper
Food grade wood oil
Wood suitable for a muddler
Step 2: Step 1: Obtain a Bit of Wood
I used a piece of black walnut for this project. Mainly because it's a nice looking wood that I had a small piece of (From a cutting board which will be in another instructable - same cutting board in the photos), but also because since it's good for use with cutting boards I figured it would be fine for muddling mint leaves, sugar and limes. I've cut all these things on my walnut cutting board and haven't spontaneously combusted yet. The piece I had was about 1.5" x 1" x 7". It doesn't have to be an exceptionally clean piece but any large knots with holes have the potential to harbor bacteria. I would imagine that you could make a good muddler out of any kind of hard wood that is commonly used in cutting boards (as long as it hasn't been treated with chemicals).
Step 3: Step 2: Rough Out the Handle and Muddling Portion
First I marked out where my thumb and other fingers would lay on the handle and went at it with a medieval looking (but well tested) rasp while the muddle portion was in a vice. Then took it out and held it to grind down the muddle portion until it looks more like an oval than a rectangle. It's important to occasionally grip the handle and test the feel of it. The last thing you want is blisters on your hand because you've crafted a poor muddler which you're forced to spend all evening making Mojito's with.
Step 4: Step 3: Smooth Out the Rasp Marks
Step 5: Step 4: Sand, Sand, Sand
Starting with 80 grit I hand sanded every part of the muddler. Working my way up to 100, 220, 320 then polished it a bit with 600. This is obviously the most tedious part and should be done while wearing a mask and listening to some good music.
Note the smooth end grain on the bottom of the muddler. This is turning into a premium 'mint crushing' tool.
Step 6: Step 5: Apply a Finish
To provide protection I used a standard "Cutting Board Oil". Just rubbed it on with a piece of paper towel. I bought this particular oil online but have since seen it for sale at Home Depot for like 10 bucks. It's important to go with an oil that is edible and non toxic. Using polyurethane or something similar will undoubtedly flake chemicals into your drink which will not only affect the taste but also have detrimental effects to your health. Food safe oils for cutting boards or salad bowls are clearly labeled.
Step 7: Step 6: Test the Muddler
This is the most important step and should be done with a methodical and well developed approach. My standard Mojito recipe starts by muddling some mint and sugar in the bottom of a rocks or pint glass. The sugar granules seem to tear apart the mint to release maximum flavor. Grip the muddler so that it's comfortable in your hand (see photos), then mash the mint into the bottom of the glass. You're not trying to break the glass, just mash enough to release the flavor from the mint. Then add lime juice, club soda, an ice cube or two and some white rum. Stir and enjoy this delicious beverage.