Meat grinders are used for well… grinding meats. Actually they can be used to grind vegetables too. Make sure to read your manual’s instructions to make sure your grinder is powerful enough for your task.
It might be helpful to understand how a meat grinder works and then you’ll know how to achieve a fine, medium or coarse texture/grind.
How It Works in a Nutshell:
Once the meat goes through the feeder head/tube, it goes through a large screw called the feed screw. This is the horizontal part of the piece.
Then at the end of the tube, it is cut with a rotating blade which is located right before where the meat goes through the cutting plate and out the machine.
What determines the texture of the produced meat (or whatever else you are grinding), is the size of the holes in the cutting plate.
The larger the holes, the coarser the meat. The smaller the holes, the finer the meat. Here’s a brief summary of each:
Fine Cutting Plate: This plate is good for grinding the meat for spreads, hamburgers or even baby food. A person would use this type of grind for making meatloaf or meatballs. For a super fine mix, you might even run the meat through the grinder twice.
Medium Cutting Plate: This size is good for creating ground beef where you still want small chunks of meat – such as for soups. You can also use this setting for Italian sausage.
Coarse Cutting Plate: This size will produce larger chunks of meat. Think of a hearty chili – this is what it will produce.
It is important when looking for a meat grinder, that you find a model which comes with the various blades.
Whether if you use an electric meat grinder or a manual one, they all operate with the same principles – and that means they all use plates for grinding.
If looking for new plates, you will need to know the size of your grinder. You can determine this by measuring the width of the actual plate. Here is a chart which will help you out:
|#10 / #12||2 3/4″|
|#20 / #22||3 1/4″|
Using a meat grinder is a great way to control the quality of your meats. Even if you ask the butcher to grind your meat, you have to be specific. For example, my husband and I once asked our butcher to grind us some meat, but we didn’t specify what the meat was to be used for.
The butcher just put the meat through and when he handed it to us, I was disappointed because the grind was a course grind and I was using it to make hamburgers.
For this reason I like to be in control over my own foods – and that includes my meats.
Remember to always clean your meat grinders thoroughly by removing each part and washing them by hand with hot soapy water. Do not clean the parts, including the plates, in the dishwasher.
Easy Italian Recipes