3 Features You Need in Your First Meat Grinder
Grinding your own meat is a great way to bring the hunting and butchering process full circle. (Chefman/)
Despite the ease and convenience of hauling your deer or wild hog to a commercial butcher, there is much to be said for processing game at home or in camp. You know what you are getting. You can prepare the cuts exactly how you want, and home butchery is part of a complete hunting experience that is as enjoyable as it is meaningful. But first, you need a meat grinder. Even in the hands of the most skilled butcher, a significant percentage of a deer ends up as trimmings. That meat must be processed into burger or sausage in order to make the most of your animal. Here are a few features to consider when shopping for your first meat grinder.
Evaluate how much meat you plan to process when you’re trying to decide what size of grinder will work best. (LEM/)
The amount of meat that a grinder can process per minute is not just a function of motor size, but also of the auger configuration, hopper size, and internal elements such as the number of blades on the knife and the size of the grinding discs. Suffice it to say that you should compare grind rates carefully when assessing your needs. One deer, a few ducks, and maybe a wild hog per year are manageable for even the most basic grinder. Beyond that, capacity could become an issue. Just remember that the greater the capacity, usually the bulkier the machine and the more storage space it takes up.
Stainless steel components will serve you better than a grinder with nylon or plastic parts. (Homdox/)
Stainless steel is the standard for grinder components. It's not that critical for the housing, but look for an all-stainless auger rather than one with nylon or plastic connections to the gear element. Plastic is okay for light duty. However, once you begin processing your own game, you won't want anyone else handling your vittles, and that usually leads to the need for a sturdier grinder with greater capacity. Buy the best you can afford to begin with.
Select different plates if you plan to change the extruded meat from coarse to fine. (Chefman/)
The first thing to consider in accessories is the number of plates the grinder comes with. The plates are the perforated steel discs through which the meat is extruded. The larger the holes, the coarser the grind. You'll want at least two different plates for achieving different textures required in various preparations (like burger and sausage), or to run tough cuts through a coarse grind and then a fine grind. Most machines also come with at least one stuffing tube, usually for one-inch natural hog casings. If a unit comes with smaller tubes, such as for making sausage sticks, so much the better. And a larger tube is useful for stuffing one-pound bags of bulk sausage.