Are you thinking about buying a meat grinder, but are not sure where to start or what to look for? This meat grinder buying guide will give you a better understanding of grinders in general and guide you in the right direction. That way, you will be able to pick the right grinder for your needs.
A grinder is a great addition for any kitchen. It is fantastic to have control over your food and what goes into it. If you are a hunter, it is very economical to be able to process your own game since you can pay hundreds of dollars to have your meat processed.
First thing you need to determine is how big of a meat grinder do you need. You have probably noticed the # and wondered what that number means. When you see the number, it refers to the size of the grinder. The size is determined by measuring the grinder plates. The most common sizes for home uses are #5, 8, 12, 22, and 32. The following chart shows what the industry standards for grinder sizes.
|2 1/8"||2 1/2"||2 3/4"||3 1/4"||3 7/8"|
A smaller grinder will have a smaller feeding tube, while a larger one will have a larger feeding tube. A smaller size will also have less power than a larger one.
So, what are you getting a grinder for? Are you looking to grind up some burgers or meatballs for you and your family every now and then? Do you plan on entertaining lots of friends? Are you planning on making big batches of homemade sausages? Or do you need a meat grinder to process your game meat? These questions will help you determine what size meat grinder you need.
How Often Will You Use It?
Do you plan on buying a meat grinder to use frequently or is it something you plan on using every month or every few months? If you are grinding infrequently and in small quantities, then all you really need is a small inexpensive grinder. You can probably get away with a manual grinder or if you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, you can get the meat grinder attachment. For an electric stand alone grinder, then a size #5 or #8 grinder would most likely suffice.
How Much Do You Expect to Grind
If you plan on using the grinder to process your game or make large batches of ground meat, then you will want a larger grinder. A larger grinder will have a larger feeding tube so you don’t have to cut up your meat as small and you can put more meat in at a time. A larger grinder will also have more power so you can grind faster. All this equates to saving you a lot of time. I would get at least a #12 grinder, maybe even a #22 if I had to process large batches of meat.
What Are You Grinding
What you plan on using the grinder to grind is especially important if you are buying a grinder to make raw pet food. You are looking for a grinder that can grind bones. There are #12 grinders that are able to grind chicken bones like the LEM #12 or the STX Turboforce 3000. However, it’s much easier to grind with a #22 or #32 grinder like the Weston or LEM. You can pretty much drop a whole chicken leg in there without having to cut it up first. And I’ve seen the Weston grind up turkey wings as well.
If you are just grinding up meats like beef, chicken and pork, then most grinders will be able to do that without a problem. Game meats like vension, elk and wild boar are a tad tougher but any of the grinders that I’ve reviewed shouldn’t have a problem with being able to grind those meats.
I would say that the most important consideration when it comes to buying a meat grinder is the cost. Most of us have a budget so there’s only so much we can spend on a meat grinder. That’s why I’ve created pages with different price ranges so you can look for a grinder that will fit your budget.
Don’t forget to think of your meat grinder as an investment, especially if you are making your own dog food or processing your own game. You will be saving a lot of money in the long run, so get a grinder that is going to last.
If you want a stainless steel grinder, you are going to be paying much more for it than for a grinder that is made from aluminum or steel. However, you can’t beat the look of a stainless steel appliance. If you will be grinding a lot then a stainless steel grinder is definitely the way to go as they are heavy duty and more durable, since the internal gears are made of metal and not plastic.
Stainless steel grinders also come with stainless steel accessories, so you can put them in the dishwasher to clean afterwards which is a nice bonus.
Something to keep in mind with a stainless steel grinder is that it weighs a lot more than a non-stainless steel one. If you need to move it around often, it can be quite a burden. For reference, a #12 non-stainless steel grinder weighs around 15 pounds while a stainless steel one weighs approximately 40 pounds. That’s almost 3x as much.
Sausage Making Accessories
Most of your grinders will come with sausage attachments if you want to make sausage. While not as good as an actual sausage stuffer, the sausage attachments that come with the grinders work well enough. Some comes with the sausage stuffing plate which is nice so you don’t regrind the meat again when you go to make sausages.
Parts of a Grinder
Meat tray – also called a hopper, is the part where you hold cubes or strips of meat before pushing it down the feeding tube to be grind.
Feeding tube – This is where the meat goes into to be grind. The diameter of the feeding tube usually correlates to the size of the grinder.
Meat pusher or plunger – as the name implies, it is used to push the meat down the feeding tube so that the auger can grab it.
Auger – also called the screw or worm, is the spiral shaped accessory that grabs the meat and pushes it towards the cutting blade and grinder plates.
Cutting blade – or cutting knife is the star (yes there’s only 4 points, but it looks like a star) piece that cuts up the meat. It is sharp so you need to be careful when handling it.
Grinder plates – these flat round plates are what determine the size of your ground meat.
Hopefully this guide has given you enough information so that you now have an idea of which meat grinder you need. I’ve always been of the opinion of getting the best and biggest you can afford. If you are deciding between two sizes, I would go with the larger one. When it comes to meat grinders, size does matter, particularly if you need to grind a lot of meat. You will probably grind more than you think. Especially when you start making your own delicious burgers and sausages or process your own game, you are bound to have family and friends who are going to want you to grind a “little extra” for them.