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MEAT GRINDING - What do you use?

I am trying to decide what equipment to purchase for my sausage making quest. I suspect I will be making about 60 lbs. per year minimum. I am trying to decide between a stand-mixer with grinder attachments or a separate grinder. I have decided to purchase a separate stuffer - so the stuffer attachment option for the KA, etc. is not of use to me. Oh, I have weak hands, so I am not interested in the old fashioned elbow grease powered grinders!

I do have some space issues - very limited counter space & storage space in my kitchen.
I am not much of a baker - although I have fantasies of becoming proficient - so a stand mixer is not guaranteed much activity of that sort. But I do see a benefit in the mixer for mixing the grind for emulsion type sausages. Stand mixers I am considering are the KA Pro 600 and the Cuisinart 5.5 qt.

What do you use? Is it a work horse or can it just process small amounts? What has made you happy/unhappy with your equipment? Open to any advise and suggestions.These items are a substantial expenditure for me so I am trying to do my homework!

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  1. The minimum isn't the question... what do you see as the potential maximum? If you were grinding a couple pounds in a week, I suspect the KA route is fine.. if you are moving through 10 pounds a week, maybe something more purpose-specific would make sense..

    Amazon had a Waring Pro for like 160, so it seems a dedicated grinder would even be cheaper..

    10 Replies
    1. re: grant.cook

      I took a sausage making workshop last fall at Schoolcraft. The instructor seemed to feel a KA would be ok for making 5 lbs. once or twice a year, but didn't feel it would hold up for much more grinding than that. Granted, he is used to using commercial tools, but it did make me feel it would be good to hear from people who have gone the stand mixer route. If I was making 10 lbs. a week I suspect my tiny kitchen would be unable to accommodate my new found girth, let alone extra equipment! I think the maximum could reach 10 lb./month.

      1. re: meatn3

        Your instructor was full of it: I use my KA for meat grinding almost as much as I use it for mixing, and I've never even had the motor get hot.

        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          I use my KA for sausage making also. 5lbs once or twice a year? That's a line of crap as Barmy has said. It will stand up to much more than that. Also, to answer one of your other questions, I have no complaints about my KA whatsoever. I also have the pasta rolling attachments for it and make a ton of pasta with it as well.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            Agreed. The motor on a KA will grind as much meat as you care to throw at it. Since it's (presumably) already sitting on the kitchen counter, and since the grinder attachment is dishwasher safe, it's much more convenient to use than a dedicated grinder that you'd have to get out and set up, then break down, clean, and put away. If you just want to grind a couple pounds of chuck for burgers, it's a snap.

            That said, the KA is the wrong tool for making big batches of sausage. Anything up to 5 pounds or so and you've got no worries. But a few years back I made 30 pounds of Italian sausage with the KA, and it was a bit of a nightmare. The feed tube is just too narrow for large-scale production.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I have found the need to look at this question from two perspectives:
              1) Grinding the product
              2) Stuffing the casings

              To put this in perspective, I make 25 pounds of andouille 3 to 4 times a year. For SOME reason I cannot find good andouille in Wisconsin! :-)

              Grinding - The KitchenAid has performed admirably, using the larger of the two grinding plates, for several years. Yes, it gets warm but not hot. It's built to run!

              Stuffing - I abandoned the KA for a purpose-built 5# capacity hand-crank sausage stuffer after the first two times trying to catch the product as it came off the KA stuffer. The PTO point on the KA is so far off the counter surface that it was a pain trying to gently coax the stuffed casing to counter level without breaking. The stuffer's output tube is right at counter level. The stuffer wasn't cheap, but it was the best one-purpose gadget I ever invested in. All that having been said, I do all this solo. An assistant might make the KA bearable.

              www.sausagemaker.com for the stuffer...and lots of other resources.

              1. re: Monch

                I'll be doing it solo and a dedicate stuffer seems well worth the lack of ease the KA attachment has. The Sausagemaker has been a very useful site in my education!

                1. re: meatn3

                  Some further advice: Run to the hardware store and get a c-clamp or two. You're going to want to clamp the base of the stuffer to your countertop or you'll be chasing it all over while cranking and extruding product.

                  Best of luck!!!!

                2. re: Monch

                  i put my KA on a medium stool and use the extra wide tray.
                  it keeps the output nozzle exactly at counter height and the tray allows me to load up about 3-5lbs of meat at a time.

                3. re: alanbarnes

                  I have to chime in here as well, my KA is about 8 years old, and I have used my KA grinder for the past three years to grind about average 5lbs of burgers every 10 days or so.

                4. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  Barmy would you be so kind as to share what you're grinding and how? I think you live in Boston as do I. Any recs for butchers or even cuts of meat would be appreciated.... Also looking for a good sausage recipe....

            2. My husband used a KA for years until it finally died. I got an electrolux assistent for Christmas and he got the grinder attachment. He was awed. No comparison, he said...

              1 Reply
              1. I use a free standing electric grinder, but also have an attachment for my Kitchen Aid.

                1. I have been known to grind up to about ten pounds of beef at once, and when I do that, I can swear that my Kitchen Aid seems to be running a little hot. I have an older Pro model that has lived a light duty existence except for when I get into hamburger making mode. I can smell it -- and it seems hotter to the touch. So, if you are going to do large amounts at once, you should probably keep in mind that the Kitchen Aid with attachment is probably not meant for large volumes, but more for a family meal or two. I let it cool down a bit between batches when I am doing even this much beef at once. Pork, which is softer and wetter, tends to get wrapped around the mechanism much faster and requires more frequent cleaning as a result. This increases the chance of overheating the motor. I have never ground more than three pounds of pork at once, so I suspect if you are planning a big sausage-making operation involving pork shoulder, you might consider using a professional grinder for this purpose rather than overuse the Kitchen Aid. I guess what I am trying to say is that the annual volume is less important than what you try to do to the machine at one time. If you only occasionally need professional equipment, well, then you need professional equipment.

                  If the space issues are big deal, but the sausage making is a bigger deal , your choice is obvious. In spite of the fact that I do use my KA stand mixer for things like pancake batter and cake mixes, I am just as likely to reach under my counter for the hand mixer if the job is small.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RGC1982

                    I grind a lot of pork shoulder too, and I find that it goes much, much better and faster if after I chunk the pork, I stick it into the freezer for about an hour before I grind. The texture is better and I get much less of that problem with the pork wrapping itself around the mechanism that you mention.

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      This is reassuring! I have started leaning towards the KA and RGC1982 post gave me pause regarding the pork.

                  2. I really appreciate all of the wise words and good council! Your experiences have me leaning strongly towards a stand mixer. After comparing prices between the KA and Cuisinart, I am leaning towards the KA. This is largely because the food grinder, even with the extra larger tray is much less than the grinder for the Cuisinart. It also seems the metal vs plastic gear issue has been resolved with the KA. The Cuisinart is probably a great machine too, but I suspect there are so many more positive KA exeriences partly since KA has had mixers available for so long. Now if you can just help me decide between all those color choices.... ;-D

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: MagnumWino

                        No, No, No. Go Pink so you can help the fight for breast cancer. I am a breast cancer survivor and I have my kitchen all done in Cook for the Cure pink.

                    1. I had used a KA attachment for years but found that it was really straining the motor when grinding partially frozen meat cubes. The motor would run hot.

                      I now have a stand alone meat grinder. A Tasin TS-108. I got it for around $100 off ebay and the KA attachment cost around $60. There is no comparison. The Tasin is a beast and well worth the investment.

                      8 Replies
                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Do you use their sausage stuffer too? How much meat were you grinding with the KA, or was the problem just with the partially frozen meat?

                          1. re: meatn3

                            I would buy large chuck roast when on sale and grind a couple of them up so on average 4-6 lbs. I think I was burning out the KA motor. I like to keep the meat very cold so the fat doesn't smear. In the KA grinder, fat smear can clog really foul the grinding tube. With the Tasin I just drop the meat in and there is really no need to use the plunger unless you are grinding twice as or pushing ground meat through into casings.

                            At Northern Tools you can get an almost indentical grinder for $99.99

                            http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wc...

                            My Tasin fits in one of our lower cabinets. Takes up apporximately twice the space of the KA packed in it's box. If space is not a big issue I would for go the KA. The difference in price is like $30.

                            I made prepared horseradish last month and ground 5lbs of raw horseradish cubes and a couple of raw beets through this grinder. No problem at all.

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                scubadoo, i noticed there is a reverse function on the northern tool model. i think that would be useful, right?

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Yes the reverse function can be really helpful. Note all the positive reviews on the NT page for this grinder.

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    thank you for a great rec on a good deal. i've been thinking about making sausages for a while. cheers! ps, my sis wanted your turnip pickle recipe!

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      oops, corrected. Thanks. For anyone looking at an electric meat grinder, I think this is one of the best deals out there.

                          2. We have a Porkert hand-cranked meat grinder, and we really love it. It's a small clamp-on model, it can handle 1-2 pounds of meat per minute, and the housing+parts are made of heavy duty tin-plated cast-iron. This model has a very small footprint and can be clamped to a counter or tabletop. I think ours cost around $50 last year. The Porkert company has been around since 1906 (in the Czech republic- a sausage-loving country), and they claim to have patented this particular meat grinder design. Their grinders come with a lifetime warranty.

                            You can find them at Sur La Table (at least, you could a few months ago) and on the internet.

                            My Eastern European grandmother's Porkert grinder was a workhorse- she cooked a ton of amazing food, and she always ground her own meat. She hated the KA attachments- she said they got too warm too quickly, and that the fat and meat needed to stay cold in order to be distributed evenly throughout your ground meat.

                            If you're an Alton Brown fan, it's worth reading the transcript on his episode about grinding meat. You'll learn a bit about his grinder preferences, techniques, and how to keep it clean with all those crevices for raw meat to stick in.

                            http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season...

                            1. Thank you all for your help. At this point I am going with the KA 600. Between my Discover card points for gift certificates and BB&B coupons and current promo's I can get the KA, ice cream (promo) & meat grinder attachments for about $300. If the grinder doesn't do the job I'll get something along the lines of the Tasin Scubadoo97 recommended and still have the KA for emulsions, ice cream and fantasy baking.

                              Leaning towards the steel-blue...

                              But to completely bare my soul - I must have a KA so I can get this:

                              http://flameka.com/default.aspx

                              ;-D !!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: meatn3

                                I love it!

                                I always wondered where Alton Brown got his mixer with the hot-rod flames.