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How to use a meat grinder & which grinding plates to choose

Grinding or mincing your meat is a key sausage making step and although its pretty hard to completely stuff it up, your grind will impact the visual appearance and texture of your final sausage so it’s good to understand how they work.

Grinding plates/dies are the little plates that look like mini cheese graters. You put them into your sausage grinder / meat mincer and the hole size in the plate will dictate how coarse or fine your sausage mince will be, and therefore how coarse or smooth your final sausage will be.

Essentially, bigger grinder plates = bigger holes = coarser sausage with more visible 'bits' and a more 'crumbly' texture. Smaller grinder plates = smaller holes = smoother sausage with finer texture (no visible 'bits') and firmer texture eg a hot dog.

So what size should I use?

Grinding plates are available in a variety of sizes. The ‘size’ refers to the size of the holes on the grinding plate, and therefore the size of the bits in your sausage mince. Here are the most common ones:

Size mm

Size inch

What to use it for

3mm

1/8”

Very fine grind. Perfect for franks, hot dogs and jerky

4.5mm

3/16”

A fine-medium grind. Good for the 2nd grind. Ideal for breakfast sausage, Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage and most regular sausages.

6mm

¼”

A regular grind. For Coarse Sausages Such as summer sausage, salami, pepperoni and snack sticks.

10mm

3/8”

A Coarse Grind. Good for the 1st grind. Ideal for Bratwurst, Chorizo & Salami.

 

Should I grind once or twice?

There’s no magic answer for how many times you should grind meat for sausages. It’s really up to personal preference. If you like a coarse, chunky sausage then once should be enough. If you prefer a smoother sausage, then you probably want to grind it twice. We prefer to put our meat through the mincing machine twice.

If you want to grind twice, you can firstly grind with a coarse, 10mm / ⅜” plate, then a smaller 6mm / ¼” plate or finer 4.5mm / 3/16” plate second. Or you could grind with a coarse 10mm / ⅜” plate both times. Or if you want a very smooth sausage, grind twice with a fine plate. Our go-to is to grind the first time with a 10mm plate, then with a 4.5mm the 2nd time.

Like many things in the world of sausage making, it’s easy to overcomplicate things so don’t get too hung up on all these options. Just get stuck in, have some fun and learn as you go. 

How to use a meat mincer / meat grinder?

1. Dice / cut your meat and fat up into chunks that are small enough to easily fit into the mincer chamber. Mix the fat and meat chunks together so you get an even blend of meat and fat. You can also mix your sausage seasonings through the meat mix at this stage if you want.
2. Chill Everything. One of the most important things to remember when making sausages is to keep everything cold - especially for the mincing process. You want meat and fat that is almost frozen. If you grind meat or fat that is warm or room temp it will turn into sludge. We recommend putting your meat and also your grinder blade and plate into the freezer for a minimum of 20 minutes before you get out your meat grinder. If you have a large batch of meat, bring it out in batches so none of it gets warm. 
3. Set Up. Set your mincing machine up, then select and insert your sausage/mincing grinder plate/die of choice. Make sure your blades are nice and sharp. Make sure you have an empty bowl to put your minced meat into.
4. Start Mincing. Gradually feed meat into the grinder using the feed-stick, combining it with pieces of fat to achieve an even blend of meat and fat. 
5. Grind Again. If you want to grind for a 2nd time and the mix is not really cold then put back into the freezer for another 10-20mins.
6. Disassemble and clean with warm soapy water after use to avoid bacteria growth.

Check out our NEW range of meat grinders / mincing machines here. 

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