You have a grinder. You're happily using it to grind meat for sausage, meatloaf or even meatballs. One day, you hear a noise (I'd describe it as a popping squicky sound) and maybe your grinder starts to labor a little bit.
You've hit a chunk of fat or fatty gristle, and your grinder does not like it. Sausage enthusiasts call this "smear" and although it is a pain sometimes, I'd like you to see what it looks like so that you can deal with it if you encounter it.
Good grind looks like this: Marbled, loose strands.
Smear is fluffy, lighter in color and the strands are twisty. You can deal with this quickly and easily. You'll also save some possible damage to your grinder:
Lets take a look at what is going on inside your grinder. I've popped off the nut. You can see the jammed up fat. This is what locks up the screw and puts excess wear and tear on your motor. Friction makes heat. I do not want heat around my raw meat :
Remove the grinder assembly :
If the mess is bad enough, you may have a struggle popping the die off the front. If it gets real stuck, try running it under hot water. This will help loosen the fat, maybe help the metal expand a bit.
I prefer to work over my utility sink. This way, if I drop something, I can find it. In this example, the whole unit came loose from the case in one fatty sticky chunk. ::THUNK::
Strings of fat and gristle will wind themselves anywhere they can. Be patient. An old toothbrush can be a great help here :
Again, warm water is your friend.
Before warm water (chunks of meat, tied up and chunky)
Looking better already :
Here is the MOST important thing I can say:
If you have to break your machine down mid-grind, please then drop the pieces into cold water for a minute or two before you re-assemble the unit. Warm grinder parts mean warm meat. Warm meat means unsafe temperatures.
How do you avoid it? Two things:
Trim your meat. The better the quality of what goes in the hopper, the better the quality of what comes out.
Use sharp blades. I have not found a reliable grinder blade sharpener, so I buy extras. If I feel like I am getting excessive smear despite my best trim, I'll try swapping in a new blade.
Good luck and happy grinding!