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Meat grinders

darkfader

Gunny Sergeant
Full Member
Minuteman
  • May 26, 2020
    558
    1,157
    West Virginia
    Quick question for the guys processing their own game. I see no sense in paying close to $200/ whitetail for some guy to make bologna for me.

    Wondering if I could get suggestions on a mid level grinder that allows me to also stuff casings. Before you tell me to go be poor somewhere else, I’m not buying a $700 grinder. Looking for a mid tier model that’ll be reliable for 3-4 West Virginia white tails a year.

    Thanks!
     
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    Get at least a 1/2hp one. A meat grinder is like a gun safe… always buy one bigger than you think you need. I had a smaller Lem to start with 1/8hp I think. It was better than hand cranking but not much. Gave it away and bought 1.5hp cabelas commercial one. That was a beast right up until it got stolen. So bought the same one again. Friend has the 1hp version and it works well for him. I don’t really care for the Lem brand but some people like them.
     

    I have a #12 — plenty of power, easy to clean — I also have a vacuum sealer from them as well
    Thanks, I think I saw the Bearded Butchers using these on their YouTube videos. Those guys make it look real easy.
    Get at least a 1/2hp one. A meat grinder is like a gun safe… always buy one bigger than you think you need. I had a smaller Lem to start with 1/8hp I think. It was better than hand cranking but not much. Gave it away and bought 1.5hp cabelas commercial one. That was a beast right up until it got stolen. So bought the same one again. Friend has the 1hp version and it works well for him. I don’t really care for the Lem brand but some people like them.
    Thanks I started looking at the Cabela’s models and that’s what prompted me to start this thread.
     
    I have a word of caution, all the meat grinders I’ve used in the past SUUUUUCKED at stuffing sausage. I will say though, I’ve never tried stuffing with a 1.5 HP grinder like those recommended above; maybe it works ok with those? I’ve been grinding for years with a heavy duty aftermarket grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid Pro mixer and it does a great job of grinding. It does not stuff well. I’m in the market for a well built stuffer, but most of the ones I’m finding are made in China and get mixed reviews.
     
    I have a word of caution, all the meat grinders I’ve used in the past SUUUUUCKED at stuffing sausage. I will say though, I’ve never tried stuffing with a 1.5 HP grinder like those recommended above; maybe it works ok with those? I’ve been grinding for years with a heavy duty aftermarket grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid Pro mixer and it does a great job of grinding. It does not stuff well. I’m in the market for a well built stuffer, but most of the ones I’m finding are made in China and get mixed reviews.
    Mine stuffs just fine. I'd even say good.

    The thing I don't like about stuffing with it is with the screw that pushes emulsifies the meat, it doesn't leave any texture to it, no matter how coarse you grind which just gives a different texture when eating. This is totally a preference to how I like my sausage.
     
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    The thing I don't like about stuffing with it is with the screw that pushes emulsifies the meat, it doesn't leave any texture to it, no matter how coarse you grind which just gives a different texture when eating.

    Exactly, it mashes the meat which prevents you from being able to make sausage with some texture. I had a well recommended processor make sausage for me last year and while it’s good, it lacks texture I would prefer to have. I told my wife it was time to buy a stuffer, I just haven’t gotten one yet.
     
    I have a word of caution, all the meat grinders I’ve used in the past SUUUUUCKED at stuffing sausage. I will say though, I’ve never tried stuffing with a 1.5 HP grinder like those recommended above; maybe it works ok with those? I’ve been grinding for years with a heavy duty aftermarket grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid Pro mixer and it does a great job of grinding. It does not stuff well. I’m in the market for a well built stuffer, but most of the ones I’m finding are made in China and get mixed reviews.
    It stuffs fine but cleanup is awful. I also bought a sausage stuffer. Much better.

    The grinder does a really good job stuffing summer sausage casings if that’s all you really want to go. Snack sticks and pepperoni you get a lot more mashing and it’s slow.
     
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    If you want texture in a stick or pepperoni, yer gonna hafta go to a vacuum or hydrolic stuffer.
     
    I have done my own sausage for over 50 years, it's not only entertaining but when I take it to the locker to be smoked I know I'm getting my deer back. I have 2 grinders a 1 1/2hp Hobart and a Lem 1/2 hp #8 big bite. I don't use the Hobart much anymore unless a group gets together and 3 or 4 deer need to be ground. 1 deer to do it's the Lem. Not as fast but gets it done and it's easier to handle and clean. As far as stuffing a couple of years ago I tried the grinder and wasn't happy. So I went back to the Enterprise stuffer that belonged to my grandparents, old cast iron beast that does it perfectly. After all they've been in use for over 100 years. In the beginning I changed the recipe several times but now it hasn't changed for 40. If you have a group, go big #32 head and 1 1/2 hp, if you just do your own the Lem will be fine.
     
    On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we have here a "Bosch" kitchen machine. It does everything in the kitchen where any other appliance would be. It just does it all, with the one base machine.

    It's meat grinder attachment is a #7 which usually gets a weird look from people. Until they see it grind. One of my Aunt's bought hers back in the 80's, and we bought ours used in about '06. Still going strong. Have a number of different plates for it, depending on final desire.

    And yes, having a 25# sausage stuffer on the side, REALLY is the way to go. Everything done in harmony, with very little grief. Or mess.

    Then there's the smoker's, and that's a completely different conversation. After that, is the curing box.
     
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    I have the Cabela's 3/4hp and it grinds and stuffs great.
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    ^this is awesome @Punkur67 ! Love it. Thanks for all the help guys. I was in bass pro just a little while ago and looked at some of the Cabelas machines. I’ll mull it over for a couple days and pull the trigger on something over the weekend I’m sure.
     
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    I have a Cabela’s 1hp #22 grinder that’s probably 10 years old, maybe more. It works great and cleans up easily.
    The key to easily grinding meat is to have it just about freezing or lightly frozen; makes a world of difference.
    The new Cabela’s commercial carnivore grinder looks like a winner and I would definitely buy one if I were looking.

    Stuffing sausages is best done with a separate tool designed specifically for the job. I stuffed off the grinder for years (never used that stupid plastic screw, though) and finally (thankfully) made the switch a couple years ago. SO much better and easier!!
    The stuffer is Cabela’s brand as well and was bought lightly used, 30lb capacity.

    Another option is to pick up a commercial mixer, there are a variety of different attachments available, a meat grinder being among them. The biggest advantage here is that you can grind and mix your meat with the same machine and if you’re set on stuffing off the grinder, that’ll work too!

    Best of luck!!
     
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    So, i got the basic lem and it works pretty good. I process 2 deer a year and usually a pig, sheep or two and whatever else. Is it fast? No. Is it easy to use? Eh, i dunno, gotta cut stuff up in cubes or strips and its fine. Does the sausage stuffer work well? Not at all, but it does work.

    It was cheap, and its lasted me 5 years so far with no failures. If i were doing more processing more often, i would want a big bad ass model.
     
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    Here is some jalapeno cheddar sausage we made. Wife was supposed to smoke it only, but doesnt listen at all. This was the messed up one that got air into it, but it tasted fine




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    I've had the cabelas 3/4 #22 for around 12 years ,only problem I've had is when I loaned it to coworker he returned it missing some parts , of course I didn't notice until next deer season and of course he denied it ,anyway cabelas doesn't make they're own grinders western makes them for them so if you need parts other than knifes or grinding plates look on westerns website.
     
    I've had the cabelas 3/4 #22 for around 12 years ,only problem I've had is when I loaned it to coworker he returned it missing some parts , of course I didn't notice until next deer season and of course he denied it ,anyway cabelas doesn't make they're own grinders western makes them for them so if you need parts other than knifes or grinding plates look on westerns website.
    Another thing , get the foot pedal switch it makes grinding by yourself so much easier, and if your in the central Texas area I know where you can get a 3/4 hp cabelas cheap , if the guy still has it , I shoot with him all the time so I'll ask.
     
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    I just bought this attachment for my Kitchenaid. Anyone use one of these?

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    We did some elk with one. It was painfully slow and the motor was overheating. We had ice bags on the motor case. Took about 2 hours to double grind about 25#s. I did the same amount in my Cabela's carnivore in about 15 minutes
     
    I’ve got 25 lbs of elk that we already gave a course ground with a big grinder.

    I’ll just be passing it through again along with some bacon so hopefully it works well for that.
     
    I just bought this attachment for my Kitchenaid. Anyone use one of these?
    I've got the kitchen aid plastic one and it works fine for light work, If I'm just making a couple burgers quick or something like that I'll use it since it's small and easy to clean but I wouldn't use it for more than a couple pounds.
     
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    I'd also suggest that eventually, you buy a dedicated stuffer (LEM ones are really well made). You can stuff on a grinder, but it's a bit of a compromise, and constrains you to doing one thing at a time (grind, then change over to stuff). With a dedicated stuffer, one person can be grinding away, and another can be stuffing casings. Makes plowing through 100lbs of game meat pretty fast. There's a reason stuffers have the stuffing tube low to the table top; makes squirting out stuffed casings onto a wetted table top an simple task (just remember to add some water to the ground meat, to make it fill the casings uniformly).

    BTW, find your local restaurant supply store and buy some busboy bins. They're cheaper than advertised "meat lugs", and some even have lids available for them as well. They make great containers for when processing a lot of meat at one time.

    As the saying goes, "When hunting, the real work begins after the hammer falls..."
     
    Got a LEM #8.........no idea of the HP, but it grinds up anything I want to put in it.......

    This.

    I have one and last year we did 4 deer and 2 elk.
    Not an issue.
    My folks got it for me for Christmas 3-4 years ago.
    Before, it was a hand grinder.

    I will agree with those who say a stand alone stuffer works dandy.

    I also use mine to fill 1 lb chubs of ground we use in all kinds of cooking.
    Super handy.
    Also slick when making your own pork sausage (breakfast and italian).
    And of course summer sausage, sticks, etc is just crazy simple.


    I keep a huge amount of my critters in big pieces and not ground. By big, I mean roast size. Not a hind quarter deboned.
    Just vac pack and label.
    Then I can do anything I want as time goes on.
    Cubed venison chili is as good (or better) than basic midwest ground meat chili.


    Edited for spelling and detail
     
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    So I’m leaning toward the LEM #8 BigBite. It seems like that should fit my needs for now. I’ll attempt stuffing with it and if that doesn’t work well, I’ll look at stuffers for next season. I pretty much want to process deer into tenderloins, and the rest as balogna and snack sticks.
     
    So I’m leaning toward the LEM #8 BigBite. It seems like that should fit my needs for now. I’ll attempt stuffing with it and if that doesn’t work well, I’ll look at stuffers for next season. I pretty much want to process deer into tenderloins, and the rest as balogna and snack sticks.

    Straps…..dont forget about the straps….


    And if you get a big deer, save the hind shanks and make some oso bucco goodness.
    We do this with elk more, and both are good.

    Wont lie, maybe keep a couple nice hind quarter roasts and make em into Mississippi Pot Roast and barbacoa….
    Very tasty. Not like beef and very good stuff.

    I do love good food and love to make it. Its a thing at our house.
    Woman and daughter do not complain.
    I get Its not for everyone, and most I know enjoy it after they have tried it.
     
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    Just a note: Remember to keep the meat cold when grinding (hence the busboy bins). It really helps for keeping a consistent grind, and keeps the auger and plates from gumming up. If you're processing out in the cold, then it's not a concern. But if it's warm, or the meat gets too warm, it can become an issue. It's partly the reason LEM's have a gain twist auger on the Big Bite series; it just feeds the meat into the grinding plates by compacting it together. I've had older countertop grinders that you literally had to lean in on the plunger to get the meat to feed through the plates. The LEMs you can just literally toss the stuff down the hole. In fact, I rarely use the hand held feed plunger until the very end, and even then, it's not often. Maybe when I'm running some stale bread through it, to push all the excess fat and sinew that may have collected inside the feed tube (makes clean up easier).

    For game fowl, like duck and geese, you'll need to freeze it until the outside of the cubes are solid, but the center is still soft. This will allow you to grind the meat into sausages without turning the meat into mush. You can even freeze the feed tube housing and blades, to help keep the meat cold.

    Google "Hank Shaw" and "hunt, gather, cook"; that guy has a huge amount of information (and recipes) for game meat. Highly recommend his cook books as well...

    Sorry for the ramble, if you already knew all this...
     
    Ramble all you want @MarinePMI I’m all ears as I really don’t know anything about this except what you guys are teaching me. So I greatly appreciate the knowledge and tips.
    No problem. BTW, you can sometimes get casings from your local grocery store's meat department for a decent price. Just ask at the counter, and tell them how many pounds of meat you're processing. Sometimes they don't know how much to charge for them, so they sell them by weight at the same cost as their finished sausages. :D

    Whatever casing is left over after you're done processing, can be put in a brine solution (just plain old salt and water), and as long as they are submerged, can be frozen for 6 months or more and thawed out and used later.
     
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    My grinder is not bigger or better than anyone else's and already a lot of great advice in here.

    I just wanted to say I have watched the Bearded Butchers for years. They can show you everything from field dressing to rendering and of course, grinding and stuffing with their proprietary spices.
     
    The bearded butchers definitely make it look easy. I had a buddy help me butcher the doe I took bow hunting last week and I think I can do a good job breaking one down now. I hadn’t killed a deer or even hunted in many years and now I can’t get enough. It doesn’t hurt that my spot is overrun with the critters so I’m hoping to fill the freezer this year. Really hoping this guy comes around in the daylight:

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    Depending on how much you are doing, the LEM jerky shooter works great for stuffing snack sticks and bologna. Much better than right off the grinder. I’m usually doing about 4 or 5 pounds at a time. I definitely see the value in the big sausage stuffers if doing 20 pounds or more at one time.
     
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    The bearded butchers definitely make it look easy. I had a buddy help me butcher the doe I took bow hunting last week and I think I can do a good job breaking one down now. I hadn’t killed a deer or even hunted in many years and now I can’t get enough. It doesn’t hurt that my spot is overrun with the critters so I’m hoping to fill the freezer this year. Really hoping this guy comes around in the daylight:

    View attachment 8274715View attachment 8274716View attachment 8274717
    My problem is that I hunt on public lands, which can be pressured. But I did see a doe near one of the places I hunt. I have not had a harvest, only shared in the bounty of others.

    One of my bosses is an avid hunter and he has had a freezer at work with the harvest of two bucks. Not enough room at his house for more venison. So, I have eaten about half a buck, so far. He had it processed at Cinnamon Creek Ranch in Roanoke, Texas and they do a great job. The venison burgers, oh man, I cooked some up with a little seasoning and sauteed onions and I was damn proud of myself.

    When I do get one, I will render the whole thing myself after I have wet-aged it for most of a week. I have a 150 qt cooler that can handle that.