Sunday, November 26, 2017

My favorite things 48

My mother owned a meat grinder that to my knowledge was never used to grind meat.  I'm not sure why she acquired it, but at some point in my adolescence it got to be used for cranberry-orange relish.  When my sister and I departed home for our own kitchens, we both noted that cranberry-orange relish made with other kitchen implements wasn't quite as good as the official home version.  We tried chopping up the fruit in Cuisinarts, or with knives on cutting boards -- close but no cigar.

I don't know what I did to deserve it, but my mother passed the meat grinder on to me, and for many years I have been able to make perfect cranberry-orange relish.  Obligatory for Thanksgiving and Christmas, welcome for many other festive menus. 

The original box is labeled "Meat grinder" in my mom's handwriting -- twice, because you never know which way you'll fit it in the cupboard.  A bit of research reveals that Rival Manufacturing, founded in 1932, made a whole line of kitchen appliances with similar names:  my Grind-O-Mat, a Juice-O-Mat, Can-O-Mat, Broil-O-Mat, Knife-O-Mat, Shred-O-Mat, Steam-O-Mat and Ice-O-Mat.  (But when they became famous for the Crock Pot, they abandoned this naming strategy -- I guess Pot-O-Mat didn't survive the focus group.)  The company history tells me the grinder was made sometime after the mid-1950s, and the fact that the address on the box has no zip code tells me it was made before 1963, which jibes with my memory of when we started making cranberry-orange relish.

You have to put it together, making sure that the sharp-edged cutting plate (the one with the big holes, not the small ones, because there are two) faces outward.  You have to put a drop of water on each of the suction cups to hold it firmly to the counter.  It's not as tight as it was in its youth (but then who is?) so it wobbles a bit when you get it working, and drips a bit of orange juice out the bottom.  Cranberries like to bounce out of the chute when you crank it, so you have to hold your hand over the top.

But it makes the perfect relish.   I couldn't do a holiday without it.


  1. Fascinating. My grandmother's meat grinder had lost the meat-grinding plate by the time she gave it to my mother, her daughter-in-law, but the fruit (and vegetable?) grinding plate still existed. We used it to grind dried apricots and raisins together to make little balls that you rolled in graham cracker crumbs. So good!
    I'm sure it's still in a box in my basement somewhere, from my parents' basement, but we didn't use it after I was in high school and my and my mother's allergies got more complicated. I'm quite sure it was pre-WWII, because my grandmother used to make sausage with it when my father (b. 1913) was a child. It has clamps, not suction cups, because it expected you to have a kitchen table to work on.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. Well, Mary Anne describes perfectly the meat grinder of my youth. Alas, I have no idea where it went when retired from my mom's kitchen. Thing is there was so much stuff that came out of that house that my brother and I said no to things I am sure we would take today.

  3. My mum had one of these and it was only ever used in the autumn to mince the dried fruit for mince pies. I loved turning the handle as a child and taking part in the preparations for Christmas. I was upset to find out that mum gave it away a few years ago: I would have quite happily given it a home!

  4. I have a meat grinder that is much older than yours, all metal, clamps onto the table. My family always used it to grind potatoes to make potato pancakes. Nothing else will give the same consistency, we've tried blenders, food processors, etc. And like yours, it drips a bit of juice out of the bottom as you use it.

  5. I LOVE this. My mom had one and she ALSO never used it for 'meat'. She used it for bread crumbs and 'bits' to make stuffing for Thanksgiving. Thanks for the memories.

  6. My mother also had a metal one that clamped to the table. She used it to make her cranberry/orange relish and her delicious orange/peach marmalade.

  7. Just found your blog recently...reading this I felt like you were describing my life. My older sister got the grinder, but felt bad about me being slighted aso she found me one of my own. We added a bit of apple to our cranberry orange relish. I still love that relish!