So, you went out and bought yourself an insanely expensive piece of machinery to grind homemade raw food for cats and dogs. Bravo. We did the same. I won't spend more than $15 on a tee shirt, yet I am more than generous when it comes to buying only the very best for the furry cats and dogs. Go figure.
After much research, we purchased the Weston Pro-Series #22 commercial electrical grinder. In comparison to Weston's #32 model, it is slightly weaker in HP, but the cost difference was too great. Whether you have a Weston, a Cabela, or a Hobart product, these up keeping, cleaning, and maintenance tips will surely apply.
1. Turn off and unplug the electrical power cord. Never leave the grinder unattended, in the on or off position. Never leave it plugged in, especially when assembling the grinding parts. The thing grinds bones, people, not fluffy pillows. Bones!
2. Before disassembling and powering off, an optional step is to put a couple bread pieces through the grinder to remove excess meat and bone fragments. The bread pieces grab onto the residual meat and bone pieces stuck in the grinding machinery.
3. Disassemble the grinder parts.
4. Wash all parts by hand. Yup, sorry dishwasher lovers, but grinder metal pieces don't do well in dishwashers and grinder blades are actually dulled by dishwasher use.
5. A good rule of thumb is to know that if parts come in contact with raw meat, they should be washed in warm/hot, soapy water. Parts that can be washed, but do not come in contact with raw meat can be washed in clear, warm/hot water. You can soak grinder parts in warm/hot water for 10-15 minutes to loosen up any dried up meat. We don't soak because we wash our parts immediately.
6. To scrub, use a sponge or a cleaning brush, but take care when cleaning sharp grinder parts---not only for your own sake, but also to prevent dulling.
7. The grinder motor housing should be wiped down with a damp towel. It cannot be submerged in water.
8. It is essential that the grinder be washed and cleaned immediately. Do not let the grinder sit because dried up raw meat is not only harder to clean off, but rusting on non-stainless steel parts is almost immediate. If dried up raw meat is not cleaned off properly, you are risking potential bacterial contamination.
9. Once all the washable parts have been washed and cleaned properly, dry them completely using a cotton towel. Leave out to finish by air drying. Both water and oxygen lead to rusting, so leave no H2O residue!
10. The last step is one most grinder owners fail to do and that is to OIL UP THE GRINDER! Parts of our grinder are stainless steel (the motor housing, the raw meat tray), but the grinding parts, blades, plates, feed tube, and entire neck are not. They must be oiled after proper washing, cleaning, and drying. This will prevent rusting. Some purchase a harsh, chemical silicone spray (food-grade or not). I wouldn't let that crap touch anything I or our animals eat. We use olive oil for lubrication and oxidation-prevention. Olive oil comes as a spray, but we simply use a clean paintbrush (strictly for this purpose) to lightly coat the grinder parts. Yes, it is true that oil can go rancid over time, but if you use fresh and unexpired oil, there should be no issue. If that's such a concern, rinse off the oil residue or wipe the grinder parts down fully BEFORE using the machine to rid of oil. You are feeding raw food, so don't allow such chemicals to be used on your grinder. Harsh chemicals and silicone sprays are really harmful.
11. If storing grinder parts in a bag (plastic, burlap, etc.), you may decide to use dried/uncooked rice for moisture absorption. This also prevents rusting.
12. We haven't tried this option yet, but after oiling, storing pieces separately wrapped in saran wrap or cloths may be an option.
13. The blade may need sharpening over time (done by a professional) or you may decide to purchase a new blade piece in the future. If cared for, your blade will last for a long time. Upon storage (after washing, drying, and oiling), wrap the blade in a breathable, cotton cloth to prevent scratching and dulling by other grinder parts (those that may come in contact during storage).
Now, I'm not saying you should baby your grinder, but proper care and maintenance are important. Not only is it expensive, but this machinery is responsible for grinding homemade raw food for our little ones. I don't take its care lightly.