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Back to Basics meat grinder: die clogging problem

PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:53 am
by njvack
Hi all,

I'm a newcomer to sausage making. This last Christmas, I got a Back to Basics brand electric meat grinder, and I've tried a few recipes with it. I've never gotten the sense that it was working quite right -- I've always needed to push the meat pretty forcefully into the augur.

My first two recipes were really, really small -- maybe a pound of meat. Today, I tried five pounds of chicken thighs for sausage. For maybe 30 seconds, it'd make meat like I expected to see; after that, it'd start coming out looking smeared, and much more slowly. I'd take it apart and find the holes in the die to be clogged with sinew, clean it and the blade, put it back together, and repeat. It was a long, long process to get through five pounds this way.

I've tried the blade in both orientations -- one way is definitely better than the other. I've tried putting the screw cap on really tight, or less tight; tight seems to be the answer there.

I know this isn't the world's best grinder; is it possible the blade needs sharpening already? Is there some trick to meat grinders I don't know?


PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:36 am
by Damo the butcherman
G'day Mate,
One question how cold is your meat, if your meat is not really cold it does tend to not cut so well. It always pays to put the meat in the freezer for at least 1 hour before you mince.
Hope this helps,

PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:09 pm
by njvack
Hm, it's refrigerator cold, not freezer cold; about 36 degrees F / 2.5 degrees C.

I'll try freezing a bit -- any recommendations on cheap meat that's a good grinder test?

How can you tell if your blades are sharp enough?

PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:49 pm
by wheels
The mincer blade should be aligned like this:


The collar should be tight so that the blade pushes against the plate. The meat should be just above freezing (your 2.5°C's fine) and well trimmed.

Pork shoulder (US - Boston Butt) is the ideal meat for trials - it's what you'll use for sausage and is cheap.



PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:49 pm
by njvack
Thanks for the pic! That's how my ginder is set up.

One thing I notice is that your plate looks evenly polished from the blade; I've got a very definite wear ring about halfway across on my plates, and a rough-looking area on the blade in the same place.

I've got a diamond stone here; would it be worth spending a little elbow grease to get everything as flat as possible? (Alternately, I have valve grinding compound on hand; I could put that on the plate and run the machine in reverse...)

Finally: how much force should I need to use to push the meat into the screw? Should it more or less just feed itself?

PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:05 pm
by saucisson
Pictures of your blade/plate would definitely help. Welcome to the forum BTW.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:14 pm
by tommix
Finally: how much force should I need to use to push the meat into the screw? Should it more or less just feed itself?

It should feed itself; I normally drop in a few chunks of meat down the throat of the meat grinder and it will pull it all through. The only time it does not is when I try to get in a hurry and try to stuff too much meat in at a time.

If you have a very flat surface and some emory cloth or a flat sharpening stone you might be able to clean up the grinder knife and plate. If it is too pitted or grooved then it is time for a new set.

PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:43 pm
by wheels
Umm... What Saucisson says applies - photos would be handy. Normally you would expect a blade to match a plate.

Others can advise better about sharpening blades, I know that mirrors are often recommended for a flat surface, but I'll leave others to advise as they know better than I.


PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:26 am
by njvack

The ring is most obvious on the medium plate, but it's there on all three and the blade as well.

Is the ear-type of plate a standard thing? Most of the ones I've seen have a notch instead...

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:29 am
by johnc2
This looks just like the grinder I had when I first started. Im guessing the the diameter of the plates is only just over 1"' maybe 1 1/8"?
It's the narrowness of the auger tube as well as low power ( mine was only 350w) which causes the resistance
The rings may be due to accumulation of sinew being ground over, maybe some bone too
My tip as well as partially freezing the meat, would be to chop into smaller pieces and feed only as much and as fast as falls naturally down the tube.
Dont force the meat under resistance. When the meat backs up in the auger tube it is getting squeezed to a mush by the auger itself before it even gets to the plate. The auger is only meant to propel and push the meat against the plate.
Also use only the large plate for the first grind and cool the meat again between grinds.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:36 am
by salumi512
Not sure where you are, but my sharpist will do plates for $5 each matched to the cutter. Worth having done.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:40 pm
by njvack
Thanks for your help and advice, all! Since I'm not going to be grinding anything for a bit, I've sent the blade and plates off to the sharpener, and I'll see how things work when they return.

FYI: The plates are about 2 1/8" in diameter.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:33 pm
by krusty
I know this is a late reply but find yourself a woodworker who has some 8000 grit sharpening stones. Work that cutter from 1000 through to 8000. I did it on my little Porkert and now that thing will grind meat as fast as I can feed it in with no clogging!

It ended up with a mirror finish like on my hand planes. I am sure any woodworker would be willing to trade meat for sharpening stone time :)

PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:47 am
by wheels
What great advice - thanks.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:33 pm
by This Little Piggy
I'm a bit far away, over here in the States, but as a vocational woodworker that's just what I've done: sharpen and flatten all the knives and dies for my grinder. I don't think a mirror polish is necessary (or will last very long in a grinder), but good smooth contact between the knife and the grinder do help to get a clean cut.

So that's about it: trim off all the sinew and silverskin you can; semi-freeze the meat, don't put too much in at once, keep your knives sharp – if this doesn't do it, there's summat the matter with your grinder!