How to Clean a Meat Grinder?

What is a meat lover’s life without ground meat? That Bolognese sauce! That hamburger! That taco! These recipes usually call for ground meat. If you are the type of person who likes to cook his meals -and meat! – at home, then you know that there is no escaping ground meat.

Although buying ground meat from a butcher shop or a grocery are options, you mey be one those who is into much detail when doing home cooking. You may be mindful of grind size, for example. In this case, you may prefer having your own meat grinder at home. A meat grinder, however, is a piece of kitchen equipment that deserves extra care when it comes to cleaning. Meat, when raw, may harbor bacteria if left uncooked for long periods of time. That is why a meat grinder has to be meticulously cleaned after each use so that it doesn’t end up as a petri dish for bacterial growth. You really wouldn’t want to end up getting food poisoned after what is supposed to be a good home-cooked meal. Food safety, after al, starts with cleanliness.

Cleaning and maintenance of your meat grinder doesn’t differ much from other kitchen appliances. Although cleaning and storage of meat grinders may be a bit bothersome, using the proper techniques in doing these procedures may help ease up the work. These techniques may also help you in doing the work more efficiently.

Below are some helpful tips which you can use to help you in cleaning your meat grinder.

DON’T MAKE IT WAIT THIS TIME!
Given the many small parts that you may have to disassemble, it may be tempting to delay cleaning of your meat grinder. At times, it may even be overwhelming! Remember though that meat residue always has the tendency to leave behind oil and grease. Ground meat, when left out for long periods of time, tends to dry up and become crusty making it hard to remove from grinder parts. This makes cleaning more difficult. Other than that, the longer you leave meat residue on the parts gives time for the bacteria to grow. When it comes to cleaning your meat grinder, the sooner you do it, the better.

BREAD IT!
Yes, you read it right. Bread. Remember how restaurants serve bacon on top or slices of bread? This is actually done in order for the bread to absorb excess oil coming from cooked bacon. The same principle applies to your meat grinders, ridding it of excess grease and meat residues prior to actual cleaning.
Allowing one or two slices of bread to pass through the grinder before disassembly will make the bread absorb any excess grease, oil and meat residue left on the grinder.

DISASSEMBLE YOUR GRINDER
Assembling your grinder can be a tedious task. Disassembling makes it even more so! However, it still has a task which has to be done. After having those bread slices go through your grinder, start disassembling it part by part.
Most grinders may actually be simple to disassemble. For electrically-operated ones though, you will have to remember to unplug the unit prior to disassembly. After unplugging the unit, start disassembling your grinder into smaller parts. These parts will include the feed tube, screw, blade, plate, as well as the cover.

SOAK THE NON-MOTORIZED PARTS IN SOAPY WATER
While having slices of bread pass through the grinder removes meat residues and excess grease, nothing works better than good old soapy water.
Soaking parts in warm soapy water using dishwashing liquid for fifteen minutes helps break down tough stains and grease left behind from prior use.
If your unit, however, happens to be an electric one, skip the soaking part and instead, use a damp piece of cloth to wipe the grinder parts. Follow this up using a dry piece of cloth in order to dry the parts.

SCRUB THE PARTS
It’s really not enough to just dunk all the parts into warm soapy water to say that you’ve actually cleaned your meat grinder parts. Excess grease and meat residue also needs a bit of good scrubbing in order for the grinder parts to be totally rid of these. You can use a sponge to clean parts such as the screw, cover and blade. Take care when handling the blade though since the blade is sharp enough to cause you injury.
Use a bottle brush to clean narrow parts such as the feed tube. You can also use the bottle brush – or a toothbrush- to clean the plate’s holes. Pay special attention to the pusher and screw as these parts are the ones that come in most contact with the meat. Make sure that you thoroughly scrub all parts. There is no such thing as good enough when scrubbing the meat grinder’s parts since any leftover meat or oil can be breeding ground for germs and bacteria.

DRY THE PARTS
After all the soap and scrubbing comes the drying. Use a dry towel to wipe off any excess liquid on the parts that you have washed. Get another dry towel, or rack, and place the dried parts on it to have them air-dried. Make sure that you do not have any excess moisture left on any of the parts before putting them away for storage. Excess moisture can lead to oxidation and rust. You wouldn’t want to see those on the grinder parts during the next time you use your grinder.

SPRAY OIL ON THE METAL PARTS
Rust not only destroys the look of your grinder. It also can affect its function. To prevent rusting, besides leaving the parts properly dried, it would be good to spray some oil on all metal parts. Electric parts are, however, an exception.
You can place some food-grade mineral oil in a spray bottle and evenly spray the metal parts using this.
It also is will be helpful to put each part in a plastic bag with rice in it. Rice is meant to absorb any excess moisture that can be present in the storage area. This step may not be necessary but it will prove to be quite useful.

KEEP THE PARTS OF THE GRINDER IN A COOL PLACE
The freezer is not meant only for meats and food. It also can be a quite useful place to store grinder parts. The freezer provides a cold, dry environment which is quite ideal for storage of your grinder parts. Keeping these parts in this kind of an environment keeps them at peak performance during each use. It also is a good way of maintaining these parts for the long haul.
If freezer space is not available, just remember to keep these parts in a cool, dry spot for storage.

The reason why people appreciate home-cooked meals is because of flavor. While getting meat from local shops may be more convenient, freshness is always the key to better flavor. The same can be said for freshly ground meat. It is for this reason why having a meat grinder at home is a good idea. However, like all kinds of equipment, meat grinders need proper maintenance and cleaning, especially if you want them to last for a long time.

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