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A meat grinder (also called a "meat mincer" in the UK) is a kitchen appliance for fine chopping ('mincing') and/or mixing of raw or cooked meat, fish, vegetables or similar food. It replaces tools like the mincing knife, for example, which is also used to produce minced meat, filling, etc. The producer puts the minced food into a funnel, which is placed on the top of the grinder. From there the material goes on a horizontal screw conveyor. This screw conveyor, which can be powered by a hand wheel or an electric motor, squashes and partially mixes the food. At the end of the screw conveyor there is a knife installed directly in front of the fixed hole plate. At this opening the minced meat comes out of the machine. The fineness of the meat depends on the size of the holes of the plate.
By changing the hole plate it is also possible to produce breadcrumbs or fill sausage casing. After the drop from the retainer[definition needed], it is possible to change the hole plate. By removing the fixing screw the grinder can be disassembled completely for cleaning. Besides the domestic manually or motor operated grinders, there are also grinders for butchery (table- or shop-grinders for example) and for the food industry. Some large machines are able to produce several tons per hour.
The first meat grinder was invented in the nineteenth century by Karl Drais. The earliest form of the meat grinder was hand-cranked and forced meat into a metal plate that had several small holes, resulting in long, thin strands of meat. As time passed, the hand-cranked machines became powered by electricity.
The electric meat grinders we now know today can process several pounds of meat easily and uniformly. Current models of electric meat grinders have different attachments to add functionality, such as sausage-making, kibbe, and juicing, which have greatly broadened the way meat grinders are used.
A basic optional feature for larger grinders is the mixer unit. With this unit can be mixed different kinds of meat (for example beef or pork) with each other homogeneously and/or can be mixed the meat with additives, like salt or spices, before grinding it. Without such a mixer unit, the additives must be mixed into the meat after grinding it, which adversely affects the taste and appearance of most products.
Commercial and home use meat grinders
Commercial meat grinders are used to process thousands of pounds of meat per hour. Frozen meat grinders can process frozen blocks of meat, down to –25 °C. The frozen blocks can range from 90x50x15 cm to 90x50x20 cm, and the power applied from 8.000 kg to 12.000 kg.
There are 2 different drive forms used in industrial meat grinders, a single-rev drive, which is ideal to grind frozen meat blocks using a single auger, and a two-rev drive, which pushes the product through a cutting knife using an auger and then though a perforated plate.
The frozen meat gets pushed by the auger into the star-shaped cutting blade. Once it has been cut, it gets pushed through a second cutting surface, the plate. The plate will further reduce the size of the product and will remove/break up any fat deposits. An example of a very common industrial meat grinder would be the Hobart 48/22 Meat Grinder.
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