Hand Crank Meat Grinders
If you have read about what is acceptable to be classified and sold as “ground meat” in stores, then you may have a hard time eating it knowing what could be in there. The obvious solution to this is to buy your own meat, and grind it at home. Now when it comes to grinding meat, there are a few different options. One is to buy one of the newer electric models, many of which consist of more plastic than metal. These models are not exactly the most reliable in the long term, unless you want to spend a fair bit of cash on one of the more reputable models available. Another option is to get a decent hand crank meat grinder, which has a number of advantages. In this article we are going to look at some of the popular hand operated grinders you can find for sale. Are either of them a worthy investment? Keep reading to find out.
Why should you consider a manual grinder?
A manual model has a number of advantages over an electric model. For starters, most of the manual models are made entirely out of metal. This makes them quite durable, and they are generally designed to last for a long time. Another advantage is that you don’t need any electricity to operate them. This is handy if you have a cabin for example, and are looking for any easy way to grind up your meat without any power. An upside to this is that they are fairly quiet to operate, so no need to worry about a loud buzzing motor disturbing anyone else in the house!
And finally they do cost less than the electric models, so you will end up saving money. And it’s hard to find anyone that will complain about that!
Now let’s take a look at some of the more popular models being sold at the moment.
Norpro Meat Grinder
Usually when we hear the words plastic and grinder in the same sentence, we would instantly dismiss that product. However in the interest of providing a few broad product choices in this article, we feel the Norpro meat grinder is worth a mention. This is one of the cheapest manual grinders you can buy, with a retail price of around $20. The reason for the cheap price is because it is mostly made out of plastic to keep costs down. It comes with two different mincing plates, including a coarse one and a fine one. In addition to this it comes with three pasta attachments including one for linguine, spaghetti and rigatoni. You also get a sausage funnel attachment, although the sausages it produces are a little on the thin side. Lastly you get an instruction manual, however this is very short and only includes a handful of recipes.
This model attaches to your working surface by the suction cup which is mounted in the base. We should note that you need a smooth countertop to hold it effectively in place, and a butcher block style countertop will not work. The lock lever on the side of the machine pushes the machine down into place to create a suction, and this lock lever also doubles as a locking mechanism to hold the top part/hopper of the machine in place. The Norpro grinder will need to be mounted near the edge of a counter-top, as the handle is longer than the height of the body.
So how well does it actually work? It does an acceptable job, assuming you don’t want to do large quantities of meat. The hopper is quite small, and you will need to cut the meat into smallish strips for the best results. But it does work, although it goes a little slowly compared to some of the better models we have seen. It struggles with fat and gristle, so ideally you want to use lean types of meat with this. The coarse plate is best used with any fatty bits, but they can clog up the machine very easily. When that happens you will need to disassemble the machine and clean it, which is a bit of work if you are only doing a small quantity of meat.
There have also been quite a few reports of the end of the funnel cracking after a bit of use. This is due to the large strain on that particular area. Many users have also complained about the handle connector stripping inside the unit, which is made out of plastic. These are all easily foreseen problems due to the plastic design unfortunately.
If you are looking at doing a light bit of grinding every now and again, then it may be worth risking $20 on this model. If you intend to grind a large of meat throughout the year, then you should look elsewhere. You can find out more about this model over on the Amazon page.
Weston #10 Grinder
Next up we are going to look at the Weston #10 meat grinder. This model retails for around $30, which makes it very affordable for a metal style model. Weston also sell it in a smaller #8 size, and the larger #22 and #32 sizes. The #8 and #10 models attach to the countertop with a c-clamp, while the larger #22 and #32 can be screwed directly onto the countertop using the 4 mounting points, or they can be temporarily attached using the 4 included suction cups.
This model is made out of cast iron, and comes with two plates including the 4.5mm fine and the 10mm coarse one. Also included is a sausage stuffing kit, with 14mm, 19mm and 24mm sized funnels. The hopper opening size is a little small at around 3″ x 4″, but it does the job. After you are done, the machine disassembles quite easily for cleaning.
It sounds good so far, but there are a number of issues with this model. It is covered in some sort of tin coating, which does not seem to last very long at all. It has been reported quite a lot that after only a few uses this tin coating starts to rub off, and can easily end up in your food. We don’t need to tell you how dangerous this is, and this is a very common problem with this model. The non-tinned parts of the grinder also start to rust soon after being washed, even if you are quick to dry it afterwards. Coating it in vegetable oil after drying it seems to prolong this for a while, so this is what you should be doing after every wash.
Unfortunately the problems don’t end there. The thumb screw that holds the handle onto the machine is prone to stripping, which also seems to be a common fault. We have also read reports of the holding plate cracking, the clamp cracking, so clearly there is some sort of quality control issue with this model. On top of that the c-clamp is not very deep, so if you have a rounded countertop you can forget about mounting it on that.
With all these faults, we simply cannot recommend this model. The price may be tempting, but you will be throwing your money away. There are plenty of unhappy user reviews on the Amazon product page, so be sure to read those first if you are still interested in this model!
LEM Products #10 Grinder
And finally we come to the LEM Products #10 grinder. This model is the priciest of the bunch at around $85, but it is billed as a heavy duty manual meat grinder. It features a fully stainless steel body, keeper ring, feed screw and handle, so you won’t get any rust on these parts. It comes with two plates including the fine 3/16″ and the coarse 3/8″. Also included are three sausage stuffing funnels including 1/2″, 3/4″, and 7/8″. This is mounted to the countertop with a c-clamp, which can fit onto countertops up to 1 1/2″ thick. The base has rubber feet on either of the clamp mounts, so your countertop will not be damaged which it is fastened on. The included instruction booklet is quite brief, but it does cover all the basics of working the machine.
It has a decent sized hopper, which can accommodate a fair amount of meat at a time. Once the meat is loaded in, it is quite easy to churn out the ground meat. It doesn’t take too much effort to work, and both the coarse and the fine plates do the job well. It does struggle a little with gristle and fat, so you should be wary of this. But for straightforward lean meats you won’t have any issues, and this model does a good job of grinding whatever kind of meat you throw at it.
After you are done, it is fairly easy to disassemble. Cleaning the grinder is simple enough, but keep in mind that you should dry the plates and cutting blade shortly afterwards as these are made out of carbon steel. If you are looking for a well built manual grinder that can handle a decent amount of meat, then this model is certainly worth a look. It looks great, and feels very well built. You can find out more about it and check the current price over on Amazon.
That is a look at three of the best selling hand crank meat grinders on the market today. The Norpro is a very basic model, which works ok if you only intend to do a small amount of meat every now and again. The Weston models seem to suffer from a range of issues, so you should avoid these. And finally we have the Lem #10 model, which is pricey, but does a great job. This would be our pick of the bunch, and will likely last you for many years.