Meat Grinding: plate sizes? regrind?

Yellowknife

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I'm curious how others who process wild game grind their meat. The way I learned when I was kid was to use a coarse plate (7mm currently) on an initial grind, and then feed it back through with a finer plate (4.5mm). I've fed well over a thousand pounds of burger into the hopper of various grinders over the years using that method Currently using a #22 1hp Cabelas grinder.

The problem is, my method stinks. The initial grind goes about as fast as I can feed, but the regrind is sloooow.. and I have to take it apart and clean the fat out every 20-30 lbs to keep it working at all. Keeping in mind that I do a lot of moose and often grind 100++ lbs at a session, that can be a real pain. I've tried meat single ground and tend to end up with with chunks of tendon and chewy stuff that nobody likes. Also the fat isn't uniformly mixed in.

I've considered both single grinding with the smaller plate size or double grinding with the large size on both runs to try and speed things up. Anybody have any tips or advice for me? Wife and kid appreciate a well mixed and uniform burger, so I want to do it right... I just don't want to be up till midnight quite so often!

Thanks,

Yk
 

OBP

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I grind mine the same way, coarse first and then a fine grind. I've never really noticed my second grind going slowly, and I'm only using a #8 grinder.
 

go4thegusto

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If you watch some videos and read gourmet info, the current thinking says to grind relatively coarse only once. Grinding twice makes it mushy. I watched a chef who said he keeps chunks and grinds in a small grinder right into his hand and forms a loose patty for a burger. Too dense and dry is not a good burger result . I have not gone to that extreme but we now grind once fairly coarse and form loose patties.
 
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Yellowknife

Yellowknife

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I grind mine the same way, coarse first and then a fine grind. I've never really noticed my second grind going slowly, and I'm only using a #8 grinder.

Might be this particular grinder not liking that second grind as much. I have to basically manually stuff every oz of meat through it. Lots of work AND slow! Doubly annoying when the first grind goes so quick. I seem to recall the other grinders I've used being less painful for that second part, but most were slower on the first grind.
 

OBP

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I run an LEM grinder. My first grind is definitely slower going than my second. I have to cube meat down to about 1x1 to get it to run without bogging down for the first grind. My wife and I have been taking about jumping to a bigger grinder to alleviate some of that; I'm planning on sticking with the LEM but I'd be curious to hear about how the Weston stuff runs as well. I've never heard who makes the cabelas grinders for them?
 
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Yellowknife

Yellowknife

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If you watch some videos and read gourmet info, the current thinking says to grind relatively coarse only once. Grinding twice makes it mushy.

BTDT. Doing that is possible, but requires a massive amount of hand trimming on your average moose to take out all the chewy "chunks". Have some of that single grind stuff from last Decembers moose in my freezer right now and keep spitting out tendon chunks. Maybe I just need to suck it up and trim it heavier?
 

go4thegusto

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LOL...yes I get that. I am a trimming fanatic. The female gender in my tribe has a fit if they hit anything chewy. I take out a chunk at a time and spend 1-2 hours a night until ready to grind. The trim can be frozen and then thawed for grinding and packaged as burger.
 
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Yellowknife

Yellowknife

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I run an LEM grinder. My first grind is definitely slower going than my second. I have to cube meat down to about 1x1 to get it to run without bogging down for the first grind. My wife and I have been taking about jumping to a bigger grinder to alleviate some of that; I'm planning on sticking with the LEM but I'd be curious to hear about how the Weston stuff runs as well. I've never heard who makes the cabelas grinders for them?

The thing I dislike about the LEM grinders I've used was the noise... They ran at a high pitch scream, vs a low pitched hum for the Cabelas. Dunno if that is across the board, but that last 3/4 hp LEM I used was painful. I think they upgrade them since then though, so maybe they are quieter now? The Cabelas 1 hp #22 is a heavy beast, but saves me a ton of time in cutting by letting me feed it much larger chunks as fast as I can shovel them in.
 

SLDMTN

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We run the same grinder you do. What has been the cats pajamas for us is to put the meat in the freezer for a period of time before grinds. We do a two grind process as well. After the first grind, we dump it into the mixer attachment Cabelas sells, mix it thoroughly and then grind it again. As long as you can keep the fat cool, it won't plug your grinder.
 

SLDMTN

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Also, I bought that new ice pack that wraps around the motor throat and helps keep any residual meat from sitting there and cooking.
 

camping1601

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I have a Cabela's #22 that I bought a 3mm plate for it on line. I'm one and done on everything from burger to sausage and snack sticks. Only thing I grind more than once is hotdogs and that there times to make an emulsification. Grinder eats it as fast as you can feed it for one grind.
 

Bulldawg

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I'm curious how others who process wild game grind their meat. The way I learned when I was kid was to use a coarse plate (7mm currently) on an initial grind, and then feed it back through with a finer plate (4.5mm). I've fed well over a thousand pounds of burger into the hopper of various grinders over the years using that method Currently using a #22 1hp Cabelas grinder.

The problem is, my method stinks. The initial grind goes about as fast as I can feed, but the regrind is sloooow.. and I have to take it apart and clean the fat out every 20-30 lbs to keep it working at all. Keeping in mind that I do a lot of moose and often grind 100++ lbs at a session, that can be a real pain. I've tried meat single ground and tend to end up with with chunks of tendon and chewy stuff that nobody likes. Also the fat isn't uniformly mixed in.

I've considered both single grinding with the smaller plate size or double grinding with the large size on both runs to try and speed things up. Anybody have any tips or advice for me? Wife and kid appreciate a well mixed and uniform burger, so I want to do it right... I just don't want to be up till midnight quite so often!

Thanks,

Yk


Some guys have already mentioned it but the number 1 key to making it go smoother is to keep the meat as cold as possible, when doing that much meat I would highly recommend taking a break in the middle and let the grinder cool and let the meat cool.

My steps:
1. After all meat is trimmed place in the refrigerator or freezer until cold then start grinding though for the first time, this should go quick so you can run through in a straight shot

2. As you are getting through start putting it in the refrigerator as you fill bowls or meat lugs whatever you are using.

3. When you are done with the first grind make sure everything is being cooled them clean up anything that needs cleaned, letting your grinder cool down, you can even put your hopper and auger and plates in the freezer to get them ice cold.

4. Start grinding for the second time, I usually do this straight into my meat bags using a foot pedal for my grinder. Only pulling out meat from the freezer that you can handle at the time, not letting the rest of the meat warming up.

5. When I'm about half way I stop and let the grinder cool down and clean out the plates if they are getting clogged at all.

6. Finish up the rest of the meat and make sure all the meat is put in the freezer and then clean everything up.

With this i don't get mushy meat and I don't have the fat (if i ever decide to add any to the meat) caking up the grinder.

Also, I can't say enough about the Cabela's grinders, they work great! And you can't beat the warranty on them, I would sell my 1 HP #22 I have right now so I can get a bigger one but shipping on that sucker is pretty dang high and I don't know anyone that would want to pay for that.
 

NJDiverDan

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+ with all the above reco's about keeping the meat cold or near frozen. My other suggestion is that you may need a new fine plate. They do dull over time and instead of the fat cutting / shearing off as it should it just smears on the plate and builds up. Typical is to replace plates and knives together. SS plates last much longer as well, but cost about double.

I have both a #32 LEM and a #8 Cabelas. I always do a second grind through a finer plate.
 
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Yellowknife

Yellowknife

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Appreciate the input guys. I was aware of the keeping the meat cool thing, but have never come up with a way to effectively do it on a second grind with a moose. Usually end up with multiple 40-50 lbs tubs, and that much meat neither fits in my chest freezer well, nor cools off very fast. This year I put it outside overnight at 38F temps, but that didn't significantly help. I guess I'll just have to get more creative with freezer space.

The plates and knives have 9 years and a few thousand lbs through them, so wear could be an issue. They look fine, and I didn't realize they could wear out. I'll look into that.

Grinder getting hot is an issue. I'll work on keeping it cooler. It' starts off cool, but within 15 lbs it's pretty warm. The cool pak idea might be worth trying.

I'll also have to look into second grinding and stuffing at the same time. I didn't realize that was possible. Have always had to run it through a third time to get it stuffed into bags. Anything I can do to speed up the process would be great!
 

TheHardWay

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Put the grinder throat, auger, knife and plates in the refrigerator over night prior to using them, along with chilling the meat. Helps to keep things cooler for a longer period of time.
DO NOT put the metal parts in the freezer. Any temp differences between the metal parts and the meat = meat sticking to the metal, and resulting in a mess.
 

pods8

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FYI per the original question I used to do the same course and then fine grind, we don't care for chewy stuff either. I also tried a bit of course only once an had a piece of a bullet petal make it through too that I didn't find when trimming (I shoot monos so atleast it was just a piece of copper and not lead smeared through the grind). Anyways on the second to last animal I did a demo batch of single pass fine only and found it to be just fine so I did 70lbs of elk that way last fall as well. No complaints and I don't really plan to go back to double grinding.

I add ~5% chopped up bacon ends to my grind for a little fat content (just something to wet out a skillet) and as long as I mix that up with the trim a bit ahead of time I get decent dispersion for the way we use ground meat in our kitchen.

Edit: I trim out big tendons but I'm not nearly as finicky about it as when I first started, the fine plate cuts it all up. This is pronghorn, deer, elk, sorry no moose experience yet unfortunately.
 
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Yellowknife

Yellowknife

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FYI per the original question I used to do the same course and then fine grind, we don't care for chewy stuff either. I also tried a bit of course only once an had a piece of a bullet petal make it through too that I didn't find when trimming (I shoot monos so atleast it was just a piece of copper and not lead smeared through the grind). Anyways on the second to last animal I did a demo batch of single pass fine only and found it to be just fine so I did 70lbs of elk that way last fall as well. No complaints and I don't really plan to go back to double grinding.

I ran a couple lbs of mountain goat through on a single 4.5mm (fine) grind this week. Haven't tried cooking it yet, but the grinder ate it no problem. Worth a further experiment I think.
 

pods8

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Yeah the first pass self feeds, not quite as fast as course but still pretty fast. Texture was fine in my book for what we like, no brainer now for the smaller grinder I use.

Only thing I can say otherwise is get one of those very short and large throat units ($$$) since those will double grind fairly easily based on what I've witnessed the one my buddy has does.
 

MuleyFever

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My grinder came with 3 plates, I don't know the exact size but fine, medium, and course. I grind the medium straight into the bags. I also do not add in fat so I think the grind leaves the meat somewhat attached and it holds fine in burgers.
 

mallard833

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Sharpening your grinder blade and flattening the plates will help a lot. I was having some trouble a few years ago and it made a huge difference. All you need is a perfectly flat surface(I use an 8x10 piece of glass) and some fine grit wet/dry sandpaper. Work your way to finer grit paper as you go. You just put the sandpaper on the glass, then lay the blade or plate cutting surface down on the paper and rub it on the sandpaper. You'll be able to see on the blade as you sharpen where it was not contacting the plate(dull spots on the edge where the rest of the edge has new metal exposed). Once you get them nice an flat, they will fit together tightly without space between the plate and blade and grind better.

As mentioned above, It's definitely important to keep the meat and grinder cold. I like the meat frosty before I grind it. Hot dogs are the only thing that goes through twice for me. With the hot dogs going through twice, I add some ice cubes which help keep it cold and also push the grind through the second time.
 

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