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Meat Grinders

With your own grinder, you control the ingredients. You control your intake of fats, salts and other additives, for a healthier diet. Chunky sandwich spreads, savory appetizers, hearty soups, relishes, homemade sausage, other meat dishes, even cakes are so easy to make. And you can make sausages out of any food. Most butcher shops carry casings, which you should buy fresh, just before you plan to grind.

Electric home meat grinders and small manual grinders are intended for processing relatively small quantities. Meat needs to be cut into relatively small chunks, and gristle should be removed or it will likely clog. With most electric models, you must remove the knife and plate to clear clogs; with others you can turn the worm in reverse.

Grinding

Fine Disc: Use it for finely ground texture, such as for spreads, pat├Ęs, baby food, hamburger, and for grinding beef for soups and relishes.

Coarse Disc: Use it for coarsely ground texture, such as for coarsely ground beef for chili, nuts and vegetables.

Place the knife blade (x-shaped) on the feed screw with the cutting edges toward the outside. Place the selected cutter disk on the shaft, making sure that the notch is placed properly. Then screw on the ring collar and you're ready to grind.

Raw meat and fish will have a minimum loss of juices if thoroughly chilled before grinding. When grinding larger quantities, fats from meats can build up inside the cutter housing, decreasing the grinder's efficiency. If this occurs, simply disassemble, wash parts in hot, sudsy water, and reassemble. After grinding meat, you can clean the feed screw by grinding one slice of bread.

Free food of bone, tough tendons, nut shells, etc., before grinding.

Nuts may bind the cutter knife if the fine cutter is used. Use the coarse cutter instead, and feed nuts into it slowly. Whenever possible, alternate with other ingredients, such as dried fruit.

Bread crumbs are made best using dry or toasted bread. Make sure all parts are free of moisture before starting.

Refrigerate ground meats immediately, and cook within 24 hours for better food safety. Handle meat lightly to avoid packing. Good quality beef needs only light shaping. You can season meat while grinding (sprinkle onto meat chunks), after grinding (work into the mixture), or while cooking. Beef patties should not be flattened in the pan, as this forces desirable juices out of the meat.

When cooking extra-lean meat, a little fat or liquid (such as suet, eggs or evaporated milk) will increase the meat flavor and juiciness, and make it more tender. Proportions: 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons of evaporated milk or ground suet for each pound of ground meat.

Making Sausages

For sausages, you will need casings (either natural or synthetic, generally in 2-3 foot lengths). If purchased dry, casings should be soaked briefly in a mixture of 2 cups water to 1 tablespoon vinegar. Meats must be ground and seasoned before making sausage links.

Assemble grinder with the the selected disk, attach sausage stuffer, and screw on ring collar. To stuff casings, gather all of casing over funnel, except the last four inches. Place seasoned meat into grinder. Stuff casing loosely, as some casings will expand during cooking. As casing begins to fill, tie securely at end with a string. Distribute meat through casing and twist into links as it fills to obtain the desired size and shape.

After stuffing, grind some fat to avoid leaving meat in the funnel. Pork butt is a good selection because of its ideal proportions of fat and lean.

Salt may affect flavor of sausage stored for long periods in freezer. If salt is added, plan to use sausage within a short time. Without salt, it may be stored for as long as 6 months in your freezer. Prick casing with a pin to allow air to escape while stuffing. Fresh pork sausages (not pre-cooked or smoked) should be stored under refrigeration in an airtight container for a maximum of 2 days. It should always be thoroughly cooked before serving. To freeze sausage, wrap carefully in moisture- and vapor-proof paper and use within 2-3 months.

Cleaning Your Food Grinder: First of all, remember that electric housings don't do well if immersed in water, so they should be cleaned with only a damp cloth. All non-electric parts should be cleaned in hot, sudsy water. Rinse and dry them thoroughly. Iron and steel parts should be dried thoroughly immediately after cleaning. Coat them with food-grade mineral oil (or cooking oil) after drying, to keep them lubricated and rust-free. If rust does appear, scour it off and oil the part. Store in a dry place.
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