A meat grinder (or meat mincer) is a device used to mince meat. You’d use it to mix or chop cooked or raw meat vegetables, fish and basically any food you’d like to have mixed or chopped up. It’s been gaining popularity and replacing the chopping or mincing knife and has certainly made our grinding lives easier.
How does it work?
At the top, the grinder has a funnel, and that’s where you put your sliced meat into. The meat falls onto a horizontal conveyor belt which is powered by either a hand wheel (making it a manual meat grinder) or an electric motor (surprise, which makes it an electric meat grinder) which then mixes the ingredients. At the far end of the conveyor there’s a sharp knife installed with a hole plate on the other side of it. Once the meat has passed under the cutting knife it’ll pass through the plate and out the front opening of the grinder – which is where you catch it in a bowl. You can alter the texture of the food by using plates that have holes of different sizes and shapes.
Types of Meat Grinders
As we saw above, you get electrical and manual meat grinders. However, there is a third kind used mainly by butchers, supermarkets, delis, and restaurants. Let’s look at the ones you’d use in your kitchen.
Electric Meat Grinders
As you can imagine, it’ll grind meat so much faster and easier than a grinder you need to crank by hand. On this point the electric model wins hands down… You shove the meat into the feeding chute (funnel) and the grinder does the rest.
It’s more sanitary than the manual. If you’re handling the meat and cranking up the grinding wheel with the same hands… meat juice will get everywhere. And when we say meat juice, you know what we mean.
It also has a faster set up time than the manual model. With the manual grinder, you need to attach it to your counter, clamp it and assemble all the various attachments. The electric model doesn’t need to be secured – just put on the attachments, THEN plug it in, and you’re good to go.
There is definitely a higher cost involved in purchasing an electric grinder – you can bet you bottom dollar on that. You’re paying for convenience – it’s easier, faster, more efficient – but also the actual materials used to manufacture an electric model are more robust and expensive.
Manual Meat Grinders
We touched on this one above – a manual meat grinder is much more affordable than an electric model. From as little as $25 you can have your own grinder and get started on those burger patties!
The manual model is also quite a bit smaller than the electric one. Some people have limited space in their kitchens and at least they should be able to find a spot to store the smaller grinder.
There’s a glaring disadvantage to the manual grinder. You need to grind the meat by using your own elbow grease and muscle power. You’ve got to twist it and crank it, all the while pushing the meat through it. You may just wish for a third arm at one point.
Another thing to keep in mind is meat handling and safety. If you’re going to be grinding a lot of meat, keep in mind that it’ll take longer with the manual model and if you’ve taken all your meat out of the refrigerator, it’s possible that it could warm up to an unsafe temperature (starting the decomposition process). It’s best to keep the bulk of the meat in the fridge till you’re ready for it.
Some need to be secured onto a surface with a clamp, and sometimes our kitchen counters or tables have special edges or thicknesses, which will make it impossible to use a clamp. Before purchasing one, make sure you’ll have a suitable surface to properly clamp it on.
The Bottom Line
When you’re deciding which model is best for you, you need to carefully consider all the points and match them to your personal needs. If you want an appliance that’s easy to use and gets the job done quickly, the electric grinder is the one you want. However, if you have a tighter budget and/or you won’t be needing it very often, then a manual grinder could be better.
There you have it.
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