Friday, April 22, 2011

Hillbilly Ingenuity: Meat Grinder

When I wrote my essay on Getting Dirty, I forgot one of the key types of dirty jobs: the Dangerous ones. I was reminded of this the other day as I assisted Mr. Farmer in feeding piece after slimy piece of meat and fat into the meat grinder for Kielbasa and German Ring Bologna. The job was unpleasant in every way possible. We had to stand for hours in the walk-in fridge, which is kept slightly colder than your household refrigerator. The meat had to be taken out of many small bags, and the bags were dripping everywhere. Then the meat had to be cut up and fed into the grinder- without adding your fingers to the mix, of course. During the process I was reminded of just how impressive Mr. Farmer's grinder setup is.

Disassembled When Not in Use

The pre-fabricated part of the project started with the stand from a saw, and a hand-crank meat grinder. That particular grinder was chosen for its ability to be used with a motor. The motor, incidentally, was salvaged from a soft serve ice cream machine. He wired the motor into a switch on the side of the frame, and welded angle-iron supports on the bottom of the table to hold the motor. The top of the table was replaced with a piece of salvaged maple flooring, and a large notch was cut out of the wood to allow the fly-wheel to spin.

The main issue was, and remains, vibration. The motor turns the wheel on the grinder, which turns the gears and the auger. All this motion is hard on the frame. It had to be re-welded several times before a suitably strong arrangement was found. Occasionally during the grinding process, when a particularly large or partially frozen piece of meat was put in the hopper, Mr. Farmer would have to put his foot on the support brace. That was quite a feat of balance to observe. Still, if you make your sausage by the 25 pound batch, an electric meat grinder is something you wouldn't want to do without.

No comments:

Post a Comment