To Grind or Not to Grind? That is the Question
Thinking about taking fresh to a whole new level? Do you wonder if grinding your own meats, cheeses and other foods might be a convenient, fast, and easy way to confidently know exactly what’s in some of your favorite dishes?
Are you considering a meat grinder, but not sure where to start? We’ll take a look at some key factors, share our favorite picks with you (while sparing you all the laborious details), and cover who they’re for and who they’re not for. Sound interesting? Then please, read on!
- 1 To Grind or Not to Grind? That is the Question
- 2 Why Get a Home Meat Grinder?
- 3 Manual or Electric? A Look at Some Considerations
- 4 Important Tips for Using a Meat Grinder
- 5 Best Manual Meat Grinders
- 6 3. Best Electric Meat Grinder: STX International STX-3000-TF Turboforce 3 Speed Electric Meat Grinder & Sausage Stuffer
- 7 4. Best Food Meat Grinder Attachment for KitchenAid Stand Mixers
- 8 The Heart of the Matter
Home meat grinders are ideal for preparing fresh meats for juicy hamburgers, meatballs, and other mouth-watering dishes. Some popular and healthy ideas include making fresh salmon patties or grinding up small chunks of celery, carrots, and onions to go in your meatloaf. You’ll also want to keep in mind that many models aren’t just for meats. You can make fresh kinds of pasta, fruit and veggie juices, grind hard cheeses, and many other items with a versatile grinder and the proper plate. For example, the coarse grinding plate is great for meats, providing a nice grind for burgers or meatloaf. It is also good for combining ingredients for your favorite fresh homemade salsa. The fine grinding plate is designed for quickly grating your favorite hard cheeses and can be used to make home-made seasoned or unseasoned breadcrumbs.
Why Get a Home Meat Grinder?
It’s always interesting to me to learn how others come to the idea of grinding fresh meats at home. This way of processing isn’t just reserved for deer and game hunters anymore. Lots of cooks value the freedom to prepare their meats just as they like them, without having to wonder exactly what and how much of something is in those pre-packaged meats.
Not long ago I was at our local Whole Foods Market, standing at the meat counter. I saw rows of 90/10 ground beef behind the clean, shiny display case. But I didn’t see what I wanted. So I asked the butcher if he had any 80/20 ground chuck. He smiled and said, “No, but I can make some for you.”
I said, “Cool, and watched him turn around to a very large, gleaming stainless steel machine.
Well, I got the 80/20 ground chuck I wanted, which also got me thinking. The meat counter experience led to lots of research and a new way of preparing and enjoying various entrees. No need to make special requests, when you can make it yourself. You will also be able to determine just how much fat you want in your meats. With home grinding, you are able to trim off nearly all of the fat or leave the amount you want based on your personal preferences.
Manual or Electric? A Look at Some Considerations
Manual Meat Grinders, also known as Hand Crank Meat Grinders
The first thing you’ll want to decide is whether or not you want a grinder which is manual or electric. Manual meat grinders are not for commercial use. What makes them manual is that they are operated with a hand crank. Designed for home use, manual grinders mount on your table or counter-top. Generally, they are compact, rather small and should be easy to handle and store.
If you long to have a bit of old world charm in your modern kitchen, a hand crank meat grinder may be right for you. A manual grinder takes a lot more muscle and some practice to get consistent results, but for many, the extra effort is worth it. If you choose a manual meat grinder you might want to consider whether or not it is ergonomically designed for greater comfort and less fatigue.
Electric Meat Grinders, Higher Output with Less Effort
On the other hand, electric meat grinders come with a power cord that you plug into the wall. So, you can’t operate it without electricity. Electric grinders come in a wide variety of sizes. It is possible to obtain a small counter-top unit which is electric, but electric models are usually larger.
Because electric grinders are larger they can also process more volume. Then there are really big commercial electric grinders, which are actually mounted to the floor.
Generally, you want to consider your volume or output needs. The number of pounds you want to process per minute, or per hour is a good indicator for determining this. Even for a large family, your home meat grinder does not need to be commercial grade or size.
You can get really creative by adding ingredients like fresh, organic spices, herbs, or hard cheeses. There are lots of possibilities, and you can feel really good about your home ground meats. Because you’ll know exactly what is in them! Most grinders will also grind vegetables, and some come with attachments for making pasta and other foods.
Important Tips for Using a Meat Grinder
It is important to keep something in mind when preparing your meats for the grinder. That is that you’ll want them to be cold. You will also want to pre-chill your metal food grinder in the refrigerator, freezer or a large bowl of ice. This helps to maintain a cold grinding temperature, which gives you a clean grind when you’re processing your meat.
Having everything cold and only preparing as much as you can grind in one hour are also good food safety practices. You also want to make sure to cut your meat into small chunks to feed into the machine. Usually, make your pieces around 1″ or so.
Some reviews mentioned getting small metal shavings or grease in their meat. As you would imagine, I found this alarming, so I kept reading and researching. The key is to follow the directions for assembly carefully. Do not over-tighten the blades. Also, it is absolutely essential that your meat is very, very cold or partially frozen, then this becomes a non-issue. If meat is clogging up in the chute, you may be feeding in too much silver skin or hard gristle; trim that off first. With a few simple practices, you will have a remarkably satisfying and fun experience while enjoying fresher and healthier results.
You will also want to take ease of cleaning into consideration, and whether or not the parts are dishwasher safe. In this regard, materials and construction are both important. And a stainless steel grinder resists corrosion and will not rust.
Which Plate, Stuffer or Attachment? The Versatility May Surprise You
There are different plates and they each have varied uses, with some examples mentioned above. In addition to the standard grinding plates, many grinders come with a sausage stuffer. If a sausage stuffer is not included, they are usually offered as a meat grinder attachment. Some models even offer a juicer attachment.
What Size and Where Will I Store It?
You have your favorite small kitchen appliances on your counter-tops, correct? For example, I have my KitchenAid Stand Mixer on the counter by the range, but all of the attachments are under the counter. My slow and speedy cookers are in the pantry. You will want to consider size when deciding on a meat grinder, as it will probably not live on one of your counter-tops.
For Best Results & Greatest Satisfaction
When it comes to ease of use, best performance, and utilizing all the features, it makes sense to follow the directions. Many meat grinders make a point of saying they are safe for children who want to help in the kitchen, and most electric meat grinders come with safety features that will enable the whole family to participate.
With So Many Options & Reviews Out There, What is the Best Home Meat Grinder? Here are our favorites in each category.
Best Manual Meat Grinders
1.The No-Frills, Old Fashioned LEM Products #10 Stainless Steel Clamp-on Hand Grinder
Some Features and Accessories:
- Heavy-duty, all stainless steel construction resists rust
- Easy to clean
- Sturdy Clamp has a wide opening, allowing it to be mounted on most counter-tops or tables
- One Course stainless steel plate
- One Fine stainless steel plate
- Three stuffing tubes: – set contains a 1/2″, 3/4″, and 7/8″ tube
- One stainless steel knife
So, if you want to be able to grind without electricity, enjoy a bit of manual labor, and get excited at the thought of taking this little beauty camping, hunting or on an outdoor vacation for the freshest meats you can prepare, this is your baby! Of all the happy reviews I read, one really ticked me. The proud and pleased customer really enjoyed having this grinder with him on camping trips and impressing his buddies and their families who joined him on vacation. Quality, freshness and kudos – how fun!
2. Gideon Hand Crank Manual Meat Grinder with Powerful Suction Base
Plan B – Manual with a Bit of Modern Ergonomics For Comfort
Some Features and Accessories:
- Made with heavy-duty plastic and high-quality stainless steel blades
- Two stainless steel screens
- One Fine grinding plate
- One Coarse grinding plate
- One meat pusher
- Ergonomically designed for ease of use
- The hand crank is very easy to turn
- Blades are fully enclosed for safety, virtually eliminating injury
- Portable and lightweight, it’s ready to travel
- Compact and requires very little storage space
- Suction base is designed to keep your meat grinder firmly attached to your counter-top
- Dishwasher safe
You love the idea of powering your grinder by hand, determining the pace and really putting yourself into it. But you don’t want to spend the time turning a crank until your hand hurts. This option gives you the satisfaction of relying on your own power while enjoying the ease of operation and a comfortable, modern ergonomic design. Many reviewers commented not only on how easy this is to use but also praised the quick clean-up and dishwasher safe feature. For many happily using this model, it is a family affair. The safety features make this grinder kid friendly.
Even though this grinder has a lot of great features and is very highly rated, we preferred the durability of the all-metal grinder.
3. Best Electric Meat Grinder: STX International STX-3000-TF Turboforce 3 Speed Electric Meat Grinder & Sausage Stuffer
Some Power and Performance Specs:
- Voltage: 110/120 Volts – 60 Hz
- Heavy Duty operating capacity from 800 up to 1200 watts, under maximum load
- 3 Speed Switch System (High, Low, and Reverse)
- 1 Stop and Reset Switch
- Circuit Breaker for Safety
- Able to grind up to 360 lbs. of meat/per hour, on High
- Low is the preferred speed for stuffing sausage
Some Features and Accessories:
4. Best Food Meat Grinder Attachment for KitchenAid Stand Mixers
Some Power and Performance Specs:
- Powered by your KitchenAid Stand Mixer.
- Fits all Household KitchenAid Stand Mixers
- Precision engineered aluminum grinder attachment is easy to attach and detach
- Hand wash and dry for best results
Some Features and Accessories:
- 1 grinding blade
- 3 grinding plates
- 2 stainless steel sausages stuffing tubes
- 1 Kidney Grind Plate
If you own a KitchenAid Stand Mixer you probably know that there are many wonderful attachments available to you. And when it comes to getting into home grinding, this is likely the best option for you. Functioning as a custom attachment and powered by your KitchenAid Stand Mixer, this attachment works extremely well. You simply attach the metal food grinder to your mixer and it does the work for you, quickly making one of your essential kitchen appliances much more than a mixer. There is also an option for a larger tray if you see yourself doing more volume grinding at one time.
The Heart of the Matter
Grinding fresh meats at home has become increasingly popular. One reason is quality control and the ability to know what you’re getting. More and more health conscious cooks want to determine what goes into their food. Packaged ground beef usually gives you the weight and percentage of fat. But do you know when it was ground and which cuts of meat are actually in that particular package?
With food safety concerns and the growing number of recalls on packaged meats, you will have greater peace of mind when you decide on the cuts of meat and other ingredients, control the grinding environment, and are involved in the process from start to finish. When you grind your own meat, you know exactly which cut you’re working with, and you can trim and season it to your satisfaction.
There is a wide variety of quality meat grinders available, in many different sizes. The choice isn’t simply manual or electric; but your preferred size, power, capacity, and budget. Manual meat grinders are less expensive and have fewer moving parts. An electric meat grinder is more of an investment that will last for years to come.
Our favorites are not intended for commercial demands. They are meant for the home of cooks who are passionate about freshness and committed to meal preparation with the philosophy that the fresher and healthier, the better. And way more fun!