Meatball Mould

Mini meatballs are one of my freezer staples: I prepare them in batches, panfry and freeze them for bentos and days when I'm too busy to cook.

My problem is that I like them to be quite small, about a dozen from 100g meat, and I never make less than half a gross at a time, so meatball making morning usually involves me and my SO standing in the kitchen for more than an hour, one of us moulding the balls from raw batter and flouring them, while the other one keeps his hands clean from raw meat and takes care of cooking.

Trying to simplify the process, I designed a simple mould that makes 12 meatballs at a time, simplifying the process. It makes cubic meatballs, which allows for a simpler mould shape but also offers coulinary advantages such as a bigger surface to volume ratio :)

To use it, you put the grid on a cutting board or other flat surface, sprinkle both with flour, fill it with meatball mix, press the top to compact the meatballs and then use the press to help remove the grid.

The resulting cubes have to be floured a bit more, but you can do it with just one hand, keeping the other hand clean and allowing to take care of cooking in the meanwhile.

While I was writing the 3D model for the mould, I realized that a shallower variant could be useful to make (mini-)burgers, so I also made a cylindric variant.

My first attempt at printing this mold was done with clean PLA, which is not guaranteed to be food safe, but is supposed to be not-too-nasty. It was an horrible failure.

The first issue is that PLA stats to soften at dishwater temperatures, but the big problem it is that it is quite hygroscopic, and thus by washing it by hand with warm water it tends to attract the mix of water and meaty liquids and becomes basically impossible to clean.

Later on, I've found a better plastic filament: food safe, less hygroscopic (and thus less porous, even if a 3d printed item will never be completely smooth) and able to sustain slightely higher temperatures than PLA. Washing it in the dishwasher still require some care and a low temperature cycle, but it's an improvement. It is a proprietary formulation, but filament with similar characteristics can be probably had from many name brands.

Downloads and Printing Instructions

The OpenSCAD source files are developed in my git repository for kitchen tools 3D models, where you can find the latest versions, and they can be customized to change meatball size and wall widths.

They should be printed in some plastic that is food safe and able to resist high-ish temperatures (such as those inside a dishwasher: 70ish °C or so). As described in the intro, common PLA doesn't do, but filament with the above specs is usually available at not-so-bad prices.

The press can be printed with a low fill density to save plastic, but if you do so I'd recommend using a few more solid top layers than usual (maybe 7 or so).

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