Can Meat Grinders Grind Bone?

Meat grinders are spectacular pieces of equipment – they’re simple, yes, but they’re also expressly powerful and effective for the job that they’re designed to do. They have an awful lot of power and ability to grind meat effectively, and this might bring you to the next question: can a meat grinder go a step further, and grind bone?

Well, the answer is yes – sort of. Meat grinders can grind bones, technically, but not all bones are created equally. Some animals out there have softer bones than others, typically because the animal in question has smaller, lighter, or hollow bones. These bones will be inherently softer than others and will be grindable.

If you wanted to grind bones from larger animals such as turkey or beef, then you’d need a specialized piece of equipment designed for that purpose. To cut a long story short, unless you are thinking of doing it commercially, purchasing the equipment needed to grind large bones is fairly pointless and expensive.

We also want to quickly point out that bones cannot be ground when they’re warm, usually – they need to be as cold as possible. This is because they’re more brittle when they’re cold, and therefore less likely to shatter into extremely small pieces. Instead, the bones will crunch and crumble, which is likely more desirable for your outcome.

Why grind bones?

There are a few reasons you might want to grind bones in your meat grinder, though there are two big ones that are likely the most notable reasons.

The first reason is for a pet or a farm animal. There are a number of animals that benefit from having additional calcium and nutrient intake in the form of bones being added to their food. As such, grinding bones to this end can allow for healthier animals in the long run.

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that you should only ever give an animal an uncooked bone. When cooked, the moisture in a bone completely leaves it, which leaves it open to shattering and splintering. This means that if a dog were to bunch on a cooked bone, it would be liable to shatter, causing quite a severe injury. Without going into the gory details, the upshot is simple – unless you want to visit an emergency vet, giving pets cooked bones is a terrible, terrible idea.

The second reason that you might want to grind bones in your home is so that they can be used as part of a healthy garden. The concept of ‘bone meal’ as a gardener is something that you might be aware of, though perhaps only as a powder in a bag. Naturally, that powder came from somewhere, once upon a time. Typically, bone meal is produced from fish bones that are a byproduct of processed fish dishes.

Bone meal made yourself has the advantage of being as free from additives as possible, and it allows you to make sure that you can bring as much calcium to your garden as possible. Calcium is good for a number of crops, notably preventing blossom end rot in home-grown tomatoes.

How to grind bones in a meat grinder?

Before grinding bones in your grinder, there are a few things to bear in mind.

First of all, we would urge you to make sure that you always double grind bones. Start each grinding process with a hole size of ⅜”, before grinding again with a smaller hole size of around ⅛”. Double grinding will remove larger pieces of bones from the mixture, allowing you to make a smoother final product.

Ensure that your bones are as cold as possible. Even bones have a fat content to them, though it’s exceptionally small, which means that a cold grinder will allow them to be reduced to a powder much more quickly and efficiently.

We would also urge you to check the thickness of the bones that you’re using. A great way to do this is to use your thumb. As a general rule, no bone should go into your meat grinder if the bone itself is any larger than your thumb – bones of that size are liable to break your grinder or, at the very least, dull the blades.

We want to reiterate, finally, that when preparing ground bones for your pet, you should only grind raw bones. Cooked bones are more pliable, and will not result in injury within the mouth or digestive tract of an animal. Cooked bones, though, can shatter, resulting in severe injury.

Related Article 5 Best Meat Grinders for Chicken Bones

Can you grind bones in a meat grinder?

Yes, you can grind bones in a meat grinder. Before getting started, though, we’d recommend reading this whole article to you’re properly informed, and won’t injure yourself or damage your grinder.

First of all, separate the bones that you wish to grind from any meat that they’re attached to. Then, cut them into a smaller size, as you typically would with meat before grinding it. Using a very sharp cleaver is the best way to chop bones – they can be exceptionally hardy.

Next, place a bowl under the outlet of the grinder so that the grinds will be caught. Then, ensure the grinder itself is on a flat, smooth surface. These are a little obvious, but it’s always worth double checking that your equipment is in place and unlikely to cause injury or fail.

Now comes the grinding – feed the bones into the meat grinder piece by piece, ensuring that the ground bones come out of the grinder before you add more bones to the top. Make sure to be gentle and work slowly – bones can break grinders if you work too aggressively.

Finally, once ground, store the ground bones. Place them into air-tight containers, before storing those containers in the fridge. This will allow the bones to stay high quality for as long as possible.

Kunal Sharma
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