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Meat Grinders

Wednesday, 2 March 2011 | Tags: , ,

To make meatballs, sausages, burgers, casseroles, and many other tasty dishes, a meat grinder is a must-have kitchen appliance. We took some manual and electric grinders into the A & K Test Lab to see which gave us the best grind for our buck.

The Basics

  • There are typically two types of meat grinders: manual and electric.

    • Electric grinders make quick work of the job, but they are quite a bit more expensive than manual grinders. They can also be noisy.

    • Manual grinders have been used for decades and are designed to clamp onto your counter top or table top. Some, however, are just very heavy instead of requiring clamping.

    • Some food processors have a meat grinder (shredder) blade available, but it’s important to read the manual to see whether your processor can handle meat tasks.

    • Similarly, many stand mixers now have a grinder attachment available, which will usually be much less expensive than an electric grinder. If you plan to do a lot of grinding however, be aware that it can put a lot of stress on your mixer’s motor.

  • Consider how often you plan to use your meat grinder.

    • If it’s only every once in a while, choose a small, inexpensive manual grinder.

    • If you plan to grind a lot of meat, or to do it quite often, you may want to go for an electric grinder, which will make quick work of the job and won’t wear out your arm.

  • If you’re often grinding in big batches, you’ll want to invest in a grinder with a wide hopper and mouth tunnel, which will enable you to do a lot of meat at once.

  • Look for an appliance with multiple grinding plates. For example, you’ll want to use a coarse grind plate for burgers, and a finer grind plate for sausages.

  • Cleaning is a big issue when it comes to all appliances. Make sure the model you chose comes apart easily and doesn’t have any crevices where food can get caught.

  • Look for an appliance with stainless steel or cast iron parts, especially the parts that come in contact with your meat products. These materials are preferred since they are more hygienic than plastic.

  • A heavy duty grinder will really grind through tough cuts of meat, but they can be large and bulky, and take up a lot of space. Consider the types of meat you’ll be grinding and whether you’ll need something with a lot of power and size, or whether you can go with a smaller, lighter-duty model.

  • If you’re considering a manual meat grinder, try to test out the crank before you buy it to make sure your arm can handle it. Some cranks can be quite difficult to use.

Shopping Tips

  • If you’re looking for a deal and aren’t planning to do heavy-duty meat grinding, look for a grinding appliance in your local department store. If you want something almost commercial grade for a lot of grinding jobs, it’s best to visit a specialty kitchen supply store.

  • You can often find small appliances on sale in the spring, just in time for wedding and graduation season.

  • Look for a grinder with at least a one-year warranty.

  • If you really only occasionally require ground meat, ask your butcher to do it for you instead of investing in a machine you will hardly use.

Usage tips

  • Before you use your grinder for the first time, clean it really well, including all the parts that will be touching the meat. This step is important since metal particles and oil residue from the manufacturing process may still be present.

  • Be sure to cut your meat into smaller pieces (about walnut size or less) so it will fit easily into the funnel of your grinder. 

  • A trick for easier grinding is to put your meat, bowl, and grinder (grinding plates) in the freezer for 15 minutes before grinding. It will give you a much more even grind, and will make the job easier overall.

TEST CRITERIA

We took five meat grinders into the A & K Test Lab to see how they measured up against each other. We tested:

  • LEM #5 Stainless Steel “Big Bite” Electric Meat Grinder: $240 (USD)
  LemProducts.com LemProducts.com
  • Deni 3301 Electric Meat Grinder: $99
  Deni.com Amazon.com
  • TSM #22 Stainless Steel Manual Meat Grinder: $130 (USD)
  TSMProducts.com Amazon.com
  • Eastman Outdoors Manual Meat Grinder: $50
  CanadianTire.ca Amazon.com
  • KitchenAid Stand Mixer Meat Grinder Attachment: $85
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise marked)

Usage Test

  • The LEM Big Bite electric machine really did a fantastic job cutting through all of our meat. However, at a hefty price point, it’s only for those who really do a lot of meat grinding.

  • The Deni electric grinder did an acceptable job of grinding our meat, but it was no match for its more expensive competitor. However, for smaller jobs, it will do the trick.

  • The TSM Stainless Steel meat grinder sits on the counter top while you crank. Though the body is quite heavy in order to counter-act the cranking motion, we still had to hold it steady with our other hand. Performance-wise, it provided a nice grind and was smooth and easy to use.

  • The Eastman Outdoor meat grinder really didn’t perform as well as the others. The grinding plates were inferior and we ended up with food getting caught in the mechanism.

  • Because we already have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, we also tested the food grinder attachment. For our purposes, small, infrequent grinding tasks, we found this option to be the best. We also liked that the attachment was much smaller than any of our other products, which means easy to store. 

OUR TOP PICK

Because we already have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, we chose the companion grinder attachment as our top pick. If you have a stand mixer of any brand, check to see if a grinding attachment is offered since it’s a much more compact, cost-friendly alternative to a separate appliance.  

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