How to Clean a Meat Grinder

If you’re still asking yourself, “Why should I grind my own meat?” I can only respond that you haven’t been reading this website long enough. There are various benefits, but here are a few:

Meat from hundreds, even thousands, of animals can be included in prepackaged beef, and it isn’t always from the best parts. This implies that when cooking with prepackaged ground beef, you must be extremely cautious—the risk of contamination is higher, and medium-rare burgers are a risky prospect.

You’re stuck with whatever ground beef the supermarket has on hand unless you have a fantastic butcher. Usually, you don’t know much about it other than the fat content. Grinding at home gives you complete control over the cuts and fat content of your grind. That means more flavorful burger patties, juicy sausages, and richer ragù.

a meat grinder, meat in a bowl, text, how to clean a meat grinder?

Preground meat is crushed and oxidized as it sits in its packing. Freshly ground meat allows you to keep it loose, which improves moisture levels and texture after cooking.

In my opinion, anyone who makes their own sausage or grinds their own beef for burgers has instant street cred.

While you can grind meat in a food processor or even chop it by hand, if you plan on grinding meat on a regular basis, a dedicated meat grinder is the best alternative. Here’s a quick primer on how to operate and care for your grinder. If you’re looking for a meat grinder, have a look at our list of the finest meat grinders.

What Are The Accessories of a Meat Grinder?

All meat grinders have the same essential components:

  • Meat cubes are placed in the pusher and hopper. The pusher is used to keep things going by forcing the meat down the feed tube. Extra meat can usually be stored on a tray situated on top of the feed tube before being put into the grinder. The larger this tray is, the easier it is to grind larger amounts of meat.
  • The grinder’s main operating portion is the screw. Meat is consistently pushed down the shaft and toward the blades.
  • The actual grinding is done by the blade and plate. The blade is a small cross-shaped item that rotates against the plate and has a sharp edge on each arm (also called the die). The plate is a flat metal sheet with holes drilled into it.
  • The blade chops the meat into a fine mince as the screw forces it into this hole. The final grind fineness is determined by the size of the holes.
    As the blade cuts, the cover keeps the blade and plate in place.

When it comes to purchasing a meat grinder, you have a variety of alternatives, despite the fact that the essential pieces are all the same. The good news is that none of them are particularly harmful.

The funnels that come with most meat grinders and attachments are designed for filling sausages. They’ll get the job done in a pinch, but they’re a pain to use. The biggest issue is that they don’t push the meat hard enough, which causes sausage stuffing to take five to ten times longer than it should. The meat is gradually warming up throughout this time.

I’ve had better luck stuffing sausage with a pastry bag (two people are required—one to squeeze the bag, the other to pull the casings off the end as the meat comes out), but if you’re serious about sausage-making, you’ll want a piston-based stuffer that pushes the meat out with a lever rather than trying to force it out with a screw. As a result, the sausages are faster and tighter, with fewer air bubbles.

Related Article: How to cook polish sausage?

How to Use and Care for Your Meat Grinder

When it comes to utilizing a meat grinder, there isn’t much to it. Simply assemble the grinder with the desired plate; feed your trimmed meat into the hopper; turn on the grinder (if using a grinder on a stand mixer attachment, a somewhat fast speed is the way to go—I’ve found that 6 to 8 on the KitchenAid produces the best results); and press the meat through. It’s as basic as that when it comes to ground meat.

Keep Everything Cold

When you’re grinding, this is the single most crucial thing to remember. Warm meat smears, fat leaks out, and the finished product have a cooked texture comparable to papier-mâché—pulpy and dry. Place the grinder and all of its parts in the freezer for at least one hour before grinding (I keep mine there all the time), and keep the meat cold until you’re ready to grind.

If you’re creating sausage that will take multiple grinds, grind the meat in a bowl that is placed within another dish filled with ice to keep it cool.

Trim your meat well

Bits of sinew that get stuck around the blade are the most common source of smearing. Instead of cutting meat, you smoosh it through the holes in the plate, resulting in a chewy texture. This can be avoided by properly trimming your meat.

Watch for smearing

As the meat emerges from the grinder, keep an eye on it. It should ideally come out of each opening in little, separate bits. You should be able to tell the difference between fat and meat. You’re in trouble if it starts coming out as a single mass, looks damp, and accumulates on the die’s surface. Use the reverse function on your grinder to see if it can self-correct. Disassemble the mechanism, clean the blade, and start over if necessary.

Keep your blade sharp

The only portion of your grinder that requires special attention is the blade. The meat will be smeared if the blade is dull. Fortunately, with continuous usage, the blade and plate should get better and better. Each time you use the metal, it grinds down microscopically, thus the contact between the blade and the plate should get tighter and tighter.

Nothing beats the smoothness of a well-maintained, well-used grinder. If your blades have become too dull, you may need to get them resharpened on occasion. For a somewhat well-used grinder, once a year or so is more than enough. Alternatively, simply purchase a couple of replacement blades. They are normally available for a few dollars.

Keep your plate clean

Allowing the meat to dry out and adhere to the blade is a sure-fire way to become ill. Between grinds, make careful to remove and thoroughly clean all parts of the grinder. Even though the model is stainless steel, the plate is usually composed of a separate die-cast material that may tarnish if put in the dishwasher. Your best bet is to wash it by hand in hot soapy water and dry it properly after each usage with a clean towel.

Grind from large to small die

If you require an extra-fine grind for specific varieties of sausages, grind the meat twice, chilling it between batches: once through a bigger quarter-inch die, then again through the smaller die. This will help minimize spreading and result in a more consistent grind and better-textured sausage.

Salt meat for sausages before grinding, and meat for burgers after forming your burgers

The amount of salt you use on your meat has a significant impact on the final texture. When added before grinding and mixing, it dissolves part of the proteins, allowing them to cross-link more easily into a tight matrix, giving the kielbasa a springier, sausage-like texture—great for kielbasa, but not so much for burgers.

How to Clean a Meat Grinder?

After you’ve finished using your meat grinder, make sure to clean it as soon as possible. The longer you leave something in the grinder, the more difficult it will be to remove it.

If left to spoil and then reintroduced to your next grind, trace amounts of meat or fat might cause food poisoning, just like any other food product. Meat grinders, on the other hand, are very simple devices that can be readily removed and cleaned.

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps, which we’ll go over in more detail later:

  • Make a “cleaning” food and grind it (such as bread)
  • Prepare the grinder for cleaning.
  • Take apart the meat grinder.
  • Soak all non-electrical components for at least 5 minutes in hot soapy water.
  • Scrub each component individually.
  • Hand-dry after rinsing
  • Allow to air dry thoroughly.
  • Mineral oil should be used to clean the surface (optional but highly recommended)

Step 01. Make a “Cleaning” Food and Grind it ( such as bread)

Bread is the most typical cleaning food for grinders. Yes, the best bread is plain white bread.

You don’t have white bread in the house, or you grew up in an Asian household like me and never heard of this till you were older? Use any other neutral, porous food instead. Radishes are commonly used in Asian households for this purpose.

Your goal is to use physical pressure to extract everything out of the die holes, and anything you get out of the housing is a bonus.

If you don’t have anything that will work, you can skip this step, but you may need to manually clean the die holes with a pipe cleaner, chopstick, or toothpick. This will also work if you’re lucky and have a reasonably powerful spray setting on your pull-down faucet. You can be inventive and spray it with the hose or a showerhead if you absolutely need to.

Step 02. Prepare the Grinder for Cleaning.

You can now turn off the grinder after removing the stuck meat bits from the die. Make sure all electric grinders are turned off and disconnected. Remove the attachment from the base unit if you’re using a grinder attachment.

Step 03. Take Apart the Meat Grinder.

I recommend that you do this near a sink. The die, blade, and screw assembly should all be removed. This will vary depending on the model, so consult your owner’s manual. To do this, you’ll usually need to remove the front die cover.

Step 04. Soak all Non-electrical Components for at Least 5 Minutes in Hot Soapy Water.

Fill a large tub or plug, as well as your sink, with hot, soapy water, and toss in the pieces. You’ll need enough water to completely submerge all of the parts. The hot soapy water will help remove any remaining grease or food particles and begin the sanitizing process.

You’ll want to immerse it for at least 5 minutes, as this will allow the heat to do its job of releasing the fat and food.

Step 05. Scrub Each Component Individually.

It should come as no surprise that each item should be cleaned with a sponge and warm or hot soapy water, much like a knife or pan.

Step 06. Hand-dry After Rinsing

After rinsing everything with warm water, dry each piece by hand with a clean towel.

Step 07. Allow to Air Dry Thoroughly.

To ensure that components are entirely dry, air them out (a few hours to overnight is plenty long enough).

Step 08. Mineral oil should be used to clean the surface (optional but highly recommended)

This step is sometimes ignored, but it is critical to the longevity of your meat grinder, especially if you plan to store it for a long period (at least a week at a time if not a month).

Before storing the metal, rub it clean with mineral oil after it’s completely dried. Mineral oil effectively prevents air from reacting with your metal, preventing corrosion.

How To Clean Rust Off A Meat Grinder?

Baking soda, steel wool, and a small amount of elbow grease can be used to remove rust off the body and die plates (i.e. scrubbing). If the rust is on the blade, however, it will be determined by the severity of the rust.

If the rust has progressed to the point where the blade’s shape has been altered, you should discard it and replace it. The baking soda approach can be used if the rust is only on the surface or not on the cutting edge itself.

This is because the handle and dies have a lot of mechanical tolerance (the amount of space something may fluctuate before it stops working). A blade without a straight edge will not cut as well and will become increasingly prone to future problems. Worst case scenario: tiny particles of metal in your meal if you don’t discover the rust early enough — disgusting!

Conclusion

A meat grinder is an excellent way to gain greater control over the preparation and quality of your food. But keep in mind that with that power comes the obligation to look after it. You can ensure that your investment lasts for years to come by following a few simple actions. Maintain a clean grinder and keep those medium-rare beef burgers coming.

Read Next: Best Commercial Meat Grinders.

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