How to Care for Carbon Steel Grinder Plates and Knives

Butcher and Hunter Equipment & Supplies, Tips

If you have used High Caliber’s preferred plates in your meat grinder, you may have experienced a not so happy surprise when you’ve come back to use them after a period in storage. Many beginner sausage-makers and amateur chefs are used to working with stainless steel knives and tools and are unaware of the fact that top quality grinding plates are actually composed of carbon steel.

What is carbon steel?

Carbon steel is commonly used for meat grinder plates and knives because it is a softer steel, which makes it prone to rust. Elements can be added to make the formulation harder and prevent rust, but then sharpness can be compromised. A perfect balance of metals is needed to keep a good edge and durability on grinder plates and knives.

Did you know? Chefs and butchers use high carbon blades because they can get sharper and hold their edge better than knives made from stainless steel.

Stainless steel, by definition, is a steel that contains at least 11% Chromium. Chromium is a very hard element that prevents rusting, but also prevents you from getting a good cutting edge on it. On the other end of the spectrum are high-carbon steel knives and blades ( .8% carbon and higher is considered really reactive and prone to rust).

How to maintain your carbon steel grinder plates and knives.

The good news is, with a little bit of practice you can learn to maintain your tools like a pro.

Here are some tips for maintaining your carbon steel grinder plates:

  • Wash grinder plates and knives in hot, soapy water (no dishwasher!).
  • Wipe off any moisture immediately and allow to dry thoroughly and completely to prevent the reaction that causes rusting. An option is to carefully dry them with heat in a low-temperature oven, toaster oven or dehydrator 150 – 200° F.
  • Apply a light to medium coating of mineral oil to prevent rust.
  • Store lightly coated grinder plates and knives in an airtight container.
  • If rust occurs, rub the grinder plate with a light pad (ie Scotchbrite) to get the rust off then follow the steps above.

What is mineral oil?

High Caliber’s experts swear by the use of food-grade mineral oil in the proper maintenance of your High Caliber Grinder Plates. Food-grade mineral oil has smooth properties resulting in an attractive sheen and it does not build up as a sticky resin on the equipment. It’s a great lubricant for all of your food processing equipment as it’s food safe. We love this stuff so much that we carry it in bulk! Click here to order our handy one litre container with a spout.

Taking care of your carbon steel grinder plates and knives will take a bit of maintenance, but it is worth the effort to have sharp grinder plates and knives.

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