Most folks these days buy an electric meat grinder. There is a case to be made for manual meat grinders, but it’s a short one.
They’re cheaper, and never likely to break down. Also, some people say they like the feel of grinding meat by hand. I know the feeling.
I bought a manual coffee grinder for just that sensation, and it got old fast. If you only very rarely grind meat, you might go manual.
Otherwise, electric meat grinders are better for a number of reasons – not least that it’s enough work already to prepare a great meal, I don’t need to add to it.
The prices of electric meat grinders range from the very affordable well under $100 Kitchenaid models to the fantastic reliable and refined pro models, such as models by Food Machinery of America by Omcan.
Before going, let’s compare the two ends of the spectrum with couple videos. First, an inexpensive Kitchenaid model on the right.
You can see it’s not super fast (and the user is trying to force the meat through – not a good idea), and it seems a bit rickety for too much repeat use. But it does the job, and would serve fine if you are not grinding all that often
Next up is an Cabelas 1 horsepower grinder, which can run from a few hundred dollars if you’re lucky to $1000 or more.
Yes, it hums along nicely! By the way, 1HP (HorsePower) is equal to about 745 watts.
Likely your needs will fall between these two. (To that end, Waring has a great reputation as a solid low-end grinder around the $100 mark). So let’s look next at what features differentiate the various models, including the obvious ones of durability and power.
So we know what to look for here. You want to see little or no plastic parts at all. The most solid meat grinder is made of stainless steel, and held together by solid rivets or bolts.
It will be heavy, and won’t wobble about on your counter. It won’t make little whiny noises when the motor is running, but will grind up the meat without breaking a sweat. Which bring us to the next item…
Machiavelli made an art form of it, dictators and politicians crave it, and people flock to it. In the case of a meat grinder, little changes. Absolute power grinds meat absolutely.
So you can start off with a modest 150 watts, which is equal to the amount of power you have if you are ruler of your home.
most of the time. It will suffice, but leave you wanting more. At the top end are 1.5 horsepower units (that’s about 1000 watts, you remember).
This is equivalent being Ceasar and Cleopatra rolled up into one, and will make you the master of Italian sausage grinds (and anything else you should choose to grind… except grudges).
Cutting Plates and Accessories
You will want to be sure that the grinder comes with the cutting plates you will need, and that replacement parts are available.
Established brands generally are good with this. A variety of cutting plates will give you a variety of grinding options, whether for sausage making or other purposes. A variety of sausage funnels will also be helpful if you are indeed a sausage maker.
Easy to Clean
Cleaning is vital – both to the service life of the machine and to… well, you’re own life. Working with meat requires strict habits and strict cleaning to avoid bacteria looking for a new home (you).
The meat grinder should disassemble easily for cleaning, and be easy to put back together again. All parts that need cleaning should be easily accessible, with no place for little bits of meat to hide. Again, this is one advantage of stainless steel over plastic, as stainless cleans much better.
Reverse Run Setting
The first time your meat gets jammed, you will be happy to have this option. Don’t get a grinder without it.
And finally, a quick guide to grinding meat for sausage that may save you hours of frustration. Enjoy your electric meat grinder!