I'm thinking about purchasing a meat grinder. I want to make my own hamburger. Hubby and I are tired of finding pieces of bone and gristle in our meatloaf. Can anyone suggest a brand? The most important thing to me would be low cost, and grinding blades that stay sharp.
Depends on a bunch of factors: How much are you planning on grinding at a time, 100's of pounds or just a couple? Do you want powered or manual (this may depend on the amount you are grinding too)? And what power "appliances" do you have that might work for this?
If you are just doing a pound or two at a time, and you have a food processor (Cuisinart or the like), you can do it in that. Just cut the meat into 1" or so cubes, partially freeze, then pulse in the processor until the fineness you want. Partial freezing is key, if the meat is thawed it doesn't work in a processor.
There are attachments to many brands of kitchen gear (kitchen aid, bosch, etc) which will do power grinding. They are more for household sized amounts but work OK. (we use one that attaches to our KitchenAid stand mixer)
And of course there are dedicated powered and manual ones.
All these machines/tools may have other features/parts you may need (like a sausage stuffing tube).
It all depends on what and how much you are planning on doing...
I have this one #8 Big Bite From LEM. It's a beast. I love it. I can make about 15 pounds of pork sausage in about 10 minutes. I would get the cleaning brushes for sure and probably an extra silicone washer for when the first one gets worn out. I've run a few hundred pounds of meat, fat and bone through it... at least. I grind whole rabbit racks (ribs,spine and neck) through it for the dog, no problem. It's a work horse.
I bought an extra knife for it just in case, but I haven't had to open it up yet. It's a bit loud and the body does get warm after a while, but both of these things are mentioned in the manual as normal operational conditions.
It probably would take you longer to clean it, than it would to actually grind up 15 pounds of burger, once you get good at working it. I cut meat into strips and feed them in one at a time. If I cut things too small, I find myself using the plunger too often to keep the meat moving down the throat. So, strips are better than cubes. Silver skin and tendons will tend to get caught behind the knife, so if you're working with roughly trimmed meat, you might want to clear the knife every 10 pounds or so to keep the meat from smearing and breaking. Just unscrew the collar, remove the plate and knife. Sinew will be right on the shaft, behind the knife. Replace everything and keep grinding.
I put all of my steel grinder pieces in the freezer for an hour before grinding so that they are as cold as possible. Same thing with the meat strips, just slightly icy, not quite solid frozen. This makes for a nice even and consistent product. Once the parts and meat warm up, you'll get smearing and breaking of the meat and fat. That's not as palatable as a good even grind with obvious distinction between meat and fat. Either way... the LEM series is pretty good if you're doing big batches of burger or other ground meat stuff. It might be a bit over-kill if you only want a pound or two every other week. It takes up a good deal of counter space and it's pretty heavy. Heavier than the 6 qt stand mixer for sure.
If you opt for the Kitchenaide attachments, there is a metal version you can buy from chef's choice here: Amazon link to metal grinder attachment It's way better than the plastic one you can get by KA.