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More to a Meat Grinder Than Meets the Eye

1. Foremost on the list of reasons to buy and use a meat grinder is to avoid packaged ground meat of mysterious origin. Some manufacturers and grocers may combine cuts from many different animals, a practice which dramatically increases the chance of contamination by food-borne pathogens. Other risks include potentially unsanitary conditions in processing facilities and the improper cleaning of equipment.

2. But addressing the unknown should not be the only motivation for grinding meat at home. Preparing your own hamburgers and seasoning the stuff of sausages can be fun and interesting. If you derive satisfaction from doing a job yourself, then your grinder is going to get used frequently.

3. While grinding beef—or lamb, or pork—can be a messy affair, with the right tools and a little practice, it makes less mess than baking a cake or, sometimes, eating a hamburger. That is—if you make your burgers with fixins the bun can't handle.

4. Any model can also process nuts, vegetables, and bread for a variety of applications that will expand your culinary repertoire.

5. A common challenge is extracting all meat from the nozzle. If anything remains trapped inside, simply stuff some firm bread into the funnel to push out any remaining contents.

6. How to choose a grinder? Determine the frequency with which you expect to use the machine and how much you plan to process at once. If you're a hunter and want to process a deer, for example, you'd be better off with something bigger than a #8, which is recommended for regular home use. For frequent or commercial use, we'd recommend an electric model over a manual one.

7. When making sausage, you’ll need to run the meat through twice. First, send through the meat with your preferred ratio of fat to meat, then mix it with your spices and additions and run it through with no grinding plate and the sausage stuffer. Otherwise, the seasonings that impart flavor will not be evenly distributed.

8. More and more, people choose electric models for their ease of use and convenience. If you like having a meat grinder around the house but don’t plan on feeding the whole beer hall, a hand-crank machine should suffice.

9. The basic components are the hopper, worm screw or auger, and grinding plates. Most machines come with some sort of attachment to facilitate feeding the meat through the hopper. And many models include a sausage stuffing attachment.

10. As you gain experience, you'll want to experiment with various accessories to achieve different textures and flavors. Grinding plates, knives, and sausage stuffers all make your job go smoothly and quickly.