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There are several phases in the evolution of a complete sportsman, but none are more gratifying than learning to process game at home. While there is no great secret to field dressing and basic butchery, making the most out of those hard-earned cuts does require some specialized equipment. Among the essential tools, a meat grinder is the most substantial investment. It not only processes tougher cuts into healthy burger, but also opens the door to making tartars, kibbeh, sausage, and other forms of charcuterie. Keep these tips in mind when searching for the perfect grinder.

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Three factors determine grinder capacity. First is the size of the grinder head or feeding tube. Grinders come in industry-rated sizes from 5 through 22, with the highest numbers handling the largest volume. A size 8 or 12 grinder is sufficient for most home uses. The spacing of auger threads is also important. Wider thread patterns accommodate larger chunks, so compare designs with that in mind. Lastly, a grinder’s motor must have enough torque to handle the load. The norm is from 1/2 to 1 1/2 horsepower, with larger grinders requiring more power.

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The blade and plate are at the business end of any meat grinder. Plates are perforated steel discs that extrude the final product, while the actual cutting blade sits flush behind it. Any grinder should have at least two plates for coarse and fine textures, along with a sausage-stuffing plate. The best grinders offer multiple plates with matching blades to increase versatility and optimize performance.

Charcuterie components are the most important accessories included with any meat grinder. In addition to a sausage plate, the unit should have one or more stuffing tubes for making both large-diameter link sausages and smaller hot sticks. A variable-speed grinder will keep RPMs low to avoid overheating and increase torque during stuffing. Grinders that feature a foot-pedal option are great for hands-free operation.

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