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Discussion Starter #1
You know, every year I find myself wanting to grind part of my venison into hamburger but the only tool I have for the job is a very tiny electric grinder that is just not worth the trouble. It's so useless that I haven't even taken it out of the box in probably 10 years.

From past experience I know that taking my venison in to a meat shop is going to cost more than I want to pay. I saw some larger grinders at Cabela's a few weeks ago, but they're a bit spendy. So my question is...are there any good inexpensive alternatives for getting the job done? What say you, people?
 

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I made the jump about 7 years ago to one of those european made Grinders. Probably the same company making them for cabelas.

You gotta get your mind right on this grinder. It's not 500 bucks for the grinder, it's 25 bucks a year for the next 20 years. They last a consumer forever, you get only your meat back, not some other joker who did a horrible job skinning gutting, and hanging.

When you have a grinder you contact the "sausage source" it's probably like http://www.sausagesource.com or something like that. They have packages of premixed flavoring you mix into the amount you're making. Then you buy some casings and with one person filling the hopper, and the other hanging onto the casings all the meat you put into the top comes out magically into sausage links when it exits.

No figure out how much you spend a year for butchering, how many years does it take to cover the cost? Plus you get all YOUR meat nobody elses!

Having a good grinder is also kinda like owning a pool when it's hot. All of a sudden all the other guys you know decide to learn how to make sausage from you ( really they just want to use your grinder)

Next purchase is a 5lb food scale for weighing meat, and a vaccuum seal bagger for the sausage. They stay in the freezer forever in these bags. My wife and I cut up a whole wild boar recently, chunked the meat, fed the grinder, seasoned the meat and then ground it again as it was bing stuffed in the cases. This with all the cleanup was about 2 hours work. We have enough sausage for the whole year now!

Gotta get your mind right around the investment though. It's a per year cost, not a lump sum. Nothing seems worth the money when you see it as all at once.

There is another very valuable lesson I learned a long time ago. If you cannot butcher meat properly and you have no skill cutting it for steaks and chops, then just buy a good grinder and grind it all up. Burgers, and sausage can be used in soooo many ways!
 

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Maybe I'm just too old fashioned, but I've used the old hand crank manual style grinders for many years. They work fine, and there's hardly anything to break or go wrong with them. They can be bought for dirt cheap at Good Will or Salvation Army.

A few grinding tips, try to have most of the tendons and sinews trimmed off the chunks before you grind, or they can get really stringy and clog up the grinder. It helps when grinding burger to have the meat semi-frozen. This lets the cutters work better and keeps the tendons and sinew from clogging up the output. Commercial meat processors actually add ice to the meat to keep it firm and cutting crisp. Also, if you can con somebody to help you (beer helps with this) it's easier to have one guy cranking the handle while the other guy handles the input/output/wrapping chores, trading off occassionally.

Like I said earlier, I'm an old school guy and for the volume of burger I make annually (25-30 lbs.) you can't beat the old fashioned manual grinders.
 

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We too have a small electric one that we use for deer and elk. It does not work great, but it work pretty good. you have to cut the meat fairly small to get it into the grinder, but its not that bad if you are already butchering it, cut it into slices and drop it in. Ours could be larger then yours, but it really isnt very large. Just how small is yours?? We also do the sasuage making things too, and every time i bust it out here in the dorm its all i can do to get a stick of my own! Once you start getting into makin sasuage and stuff its actually alot of fun, and you can appreciate it much more then the stuff you paid $300 for ;)
 

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I simply cannot imagine grinding 100 pounds of meat twice with a hand crank. I double grind everything, once to add seasoning, the second while stuffing into the casing.

You're a way better, and much more patient man then I am!
 

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JJ- You notice I said my annual venison grinding is only about 25-30# per year, which is managable with a hand crank (Yeah, I double grind everything too.). If I did much more than that, I'd use the one I built for my dad, which is a manual cranker with the handle replaced with a pulley that is belt driven with a 1 1/2 h.p. electric motor!!
 

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I don't know how I missed that! Sorry, I should not have posted without better attention to your post. 25 pounds I could probably do...........no maybe not, I'm too spoiled now with the power grinder.

The idea about the motor and pulley is good, Boieng Surplus probably has all the bits you need for pennies on the dollar too!
 

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I got one of the Cabelas Commercial grinders this past year and it is awesome!! I agree with JJ, that thing seems like it will last for a lifetime!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the good tips, folks. I appreciate it! Tup:

To answer one of the questions my electric grinder fits in a box about 10"X12"X15" and the meat feed opening is only about a 1 1/2" circle. It's tiny and painfully slow--more of a toy than a tool. I think I will put more thought into buying one of those grinders from Cabela's. Heck, even one of the smaller ones will be a VAST improvement over what I have, and once I apply the depreciation schedule to this piece of capital as JJ hinted at, it won't cost me much per year. :D

I learned many years ago that taking my animals for butchering was not for me. Not only is it expensive but there's no doubt you end up with yours meat mixed in with others in the name of efficiency at the shop. And I don't know about the rest of you but I'm dang cautious with the care of my meat in the field and after I get home. Fortunately, I used to work at Safeway stores and I would often entice the meat cutter to come over and have a butchering session in my garage for a case of beer. I learned enough to be somewhat proficient and have been cutting my own for the past 10 years or so and not grinding any. But let's be honest, some of that venison is more fit for hamburger than steaks, roasts or stew meat. wink:
 
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