How to Choose The Best Manual Meat Grinder for Your Kitchen (2018 Edition)
Do you still buy expensive ground meat thinking it is better and fresher? Have you ever considered just buying a meat grinder? If ground meat is a staple ingredient in your home, then I suggest you get your own manual meat grinder. It will be easier and a lot cheaper.
How and where to get one? Go check out my review on these 5 best manual meat grinders in the market. Read along to know my thoughts on each of them and find out which one is my most favorite.
**Below, you'll find more detailed reriews, but you can click links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon
What Is A Meat Grinder?
Before, home cooks use mincing knife to chop meat into little pieces, but the invention of meat grinder made it so much easier to make ground meat.
There are actually two types of meat grinders: manual and electric. Manual meat grinder is intended for smaller and softer meat cuts. It usually comes with rotating cutting plates and a handle that serves as a lever that pushes the meat into the blade.
Electric meat grinder, on the other hand, has more cutting plates and doesn’t need an auger to push the meat down the blades. It is used for higher meat volumes.
What Are The Parts Of A Manual Meat Grinder?
How Does A Manual Meat Grinder Work?
It is true that manual grinders are a lot cheaper than standalone grinders, but if you only use it at home, it will do just fine.
Wait, electric grinders are just ‘plug-and-play’, but how about manual ones? How does it work?
Here’s the general step-by-step procedure on how to grind meat using a manual meat grinder:
Why Do You Need To Have A Manual Meat Grinder In Your Kitchen?
For me, the utmost advantages of having your own meat grinder at home are accessibility, cost, and freshness.
When you have a meat grinder at home, it would be easier for you to prepare any dish requiring ground meat, plus you can be certain that it is fresh. Ground meat sold in groceries are usually days old and you have to keep in mind that the smaller the piece of meat the easier for bacteria and fungi to thrive.
Another thing, did you know that meat is only able to absorb flavors while it is cooking? Ones the meat is cooked, it can no longer sip in any tang. Yes, incorporating seasonings, spices, and herbs should be done before subjecting the meat to heat. So, if you own a meat grinder at home, it would be best to season the meat while it is grinding. Doing so will greatly enhance the meat’s taste.
Also, buying bigger chunks of meat is always way cheaper than pre-packed ground ones. Stock it up in your freezer and when you crave for burger or meatballs, you can just slice a portion and grind it using your portable manual meat grinder. Cool, eh?
Now that we have discussed the advantages of having a grinder at home, let us take a closer look at the pros and cons of choosing a manual grinder over an electric one.
Factors To Consider When Choosing And Buying A Manual Meat Grinder?
How much meat you will be grinding and how often
If you love adding ground meat into your dishes and you think that you will use this kitchen appliance often then you should choose a heavy duty one.
How much is your budget
If money is not an issue, then by all means skip this part, but if it is, you then need to set a price range that is suited to your budget. Do not worry, though, because most manual meat grinders are affordable – just like the ones I will review later on.
What is it made of
Durability is such an important factor to consider when buying manual meat grinders. Just like what I said earlier, if you intend to use it frequently, then choose the one with a sturdy material. Most of the newer versions are made from quality plastics while some older designs are made of stainless steel. Plastic built is lightweight but stainless steel is definitely a lot more robust.
Ground meat quality
Most, if not all, manual meat grinders have high-quality and high-quantity yields. My tip is to consider the one that can produce the fineness you prefer or usually use.
What To Look For In A Good Manual Meat Grinder?
Of course, before buying a kitchen appliance like this, you have to have a criteria to weigh in your options, right? What to look for in a good manual meat grinder?
1. Easy to use
You would not want to buy a kitchen appliance that is too complicated to use, would you? This is why the very first thing you should look for in a manual meat grinder is the ease of use. Whatever brand or design you are going to choose, make sure first that you will be comfortable using it.
Example: if you have small hands, the handle should have a good grip.
2. Easy to clean
It is very important to always keep the meat grinder clean and dry or else it can be a breeding ground for yeasts and other bacteria and fungi. Look for a manual meat grinder that is easy to clean and maintain – preferably the one that can be easily assembled and disassembled.
3. Accessories and attachments
Most manual meat grinders come with different attachments and accessories:
- Different grinding plate designs and hole sizes
- Different cross knife blade designs
- Different stuffing tube sizes for sausages
- Meat stomper
- Grinder plate and cross knife extractor
I advise you to choose the one that can provide you with the attachments and accessories you need. Usually, extra grinding plates, cross knife designs, and stuffing tubes are the basics but it would be better if stompers and extractors are included too.
Usually, manual meat grinder companies can only provide one-year warranty but longer the better. Check if they also give coverage or replacements for broken or damaged parts – especially grinding plates and cross knife.Remember that grinding plates and blades in the cross knife can get dull over time.
A good manual meat grinder should be versatile. By versatile, I mean, it can also be used to grind grains, nuts, vegetables, seeds, and even fats and tendons. Look for the one with a wider range of grinding capacity.
A manual meat grinder should be robust. Also, I recommend that you choose a manual meat grinder that can hold a secure position – especially, while grinding. Make sure that the clamp or rubber suction cups that it comes with can be easily and tightly fastened.
Other Things You Need To Take Note Off
You have to bear in mind that manual meat grinders have limitations too. It definitely runs at a slower speed (depending on your arm’s muscle strength) compared to standalone machines.
Do you know what a slow grinding rate implies? The longer the meat is exposed to room temperature, the warmer it gets, and the warmer it gets, the more susceptible it is from fungi and bacteria growth.
What I do is I keep the chopped meat in the fridge and only grind a few amount at a time. Ground ones go directly back in the fridge.
You may also opt to just keep the rest of the meat in an ice bath if you prefer to let it set on your counter top.
2. Dark meat over white meat
Technically speaking, dark meat is easier to grind than white meat because the former has more compact protein content.
Although, this does not necessarily mean that you can’t grind chicken breast meat in your grinder. You just have to have a gentle hand and some extra patience.
Remember, the firmer the meat the better and easier it grinds. Which brings us to…
3. Chill the meat
I made it clear earlier that the firmer the meat the better and easier it grinds. Now, here’s the solution for white meat, fish fillets, and soft seafood flesh. Chill (not freeze) it for a couple minutes before grinding it. That way, the meat (or flesh) will be just perfectly firm.
4. Keep it clean
I suggest that you wash your meat grinder right after every use to prevent microorganisms from thriving. Use a regular dish washing soap or liquid and water. Wipe it dry afterwards and store in a clean space.
5. Sharpen it
When you think the blades are getting dull (usually a year after extensive use), bring it to a sharpening shop and have it sharpened by a professional.
6. Season it
I know I mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. It is best to season tour meat with herbs and spices while it is grinding. it will absorb all the flavors more this way.
7. Big to small
Here is a technique that I personally learnt over the years – go from big to small.
Grinders come with different sets of grinding plates with different hole sizes, correct? If you want to achieve a really fine mill, use a plate with larger holes and then re-run the meat through with a small hole.
The Top 5 Manual Meat Grinder
Now that you know everything about manual meat grinders, it is time to review the top 5 products.
1. Pictek Meat Grinder
Honestly, the thing I like most about Pictek meat grinder is its handheld upper cup. Most grinders have meat stompers that can be used to push the meat down the auger, but sometimes, little pieces splash out of the hopper.
Its handheld upper cup works as a stomper and stopper at the same time. Here are some of its pros and cons
2. Gideon Hand Crank Manual Meat Grinder
This classy manual meat grinder is not just about looks. It is also known as a heavy duty machine. What I love most about it is its huge hopper. You can surely make a lot more in just few minutes. Here are some of its pros and cons:
3. Nopro Meat Grinder
This lightweight machine can grind meat, vegetables, and fruits, and make sausages, patties, and pasta. Check out its pros and cons.
4. LEM Products #10 Stainless Steel Clamp-on Hand Grinder
If you are looking for an old-fashioned tried and tested manual meat grinder, then I suggest that you check out LEM #10 stainless steel clamp-on hand grinder.
It is made of stainless steel so you are rest assured that it is really heavy duty. Check out its pros and cons here:
5. Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 Manual Meat Grinder
For me, nothing beats kitchen basics 3-in-1 manual meat grinder when it comes to portability. This tiny machine is efficient and fast in grinding meat, vegetables, beans, and nuts, and making pasta and Chinese noodles from dough. Here are some of its pros and cons.
Before I give my insights, let me first thank you for making it this far. I know it was quite a lot to read and process, but buying a manual meat grinder needs a bit of a deeper understanding and background.
Now, if you are going to ask me which one of these will I buy for my household, then I would say the Kitchen 3-in-1 because it is efficient and portable. It is not like other appliances that are just too heavy and difficult to move here and there.
Do not trust kitchen appliances made of plastic? LEM is as good as Kitchen 3-in-1 but a bit more robust. My only issue with it really is its portability. Over all, it is a great manual meat grinder.
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