PSA: How to cut an avocado!

I know, most of you probably know how to do this, but it has come to my attention recently that doctors are saying that people who eat a lot of avocados are being afflicted with what they now term "avocado hand". I kid you not. Apparently this is a global pandemic! 

The London Times reports they are using the term to describe "serious stab and slash injuries" resulting from trying to open up the fruit and remove the seed. Sigh. 

People are seriously injuring themselves cutting open avocados and while it amazes me that this is even possible, it occurs to me that I can at least show you how I do it, and give you some pointers if this is something you are struggling with...and let's face it, if you have a perfectly ripe avocado and every time you try to cut it you mangle the poor fruit until it's only suitable to use in guacamole, then you need some direction.

First thing for me to say is this: MAKE SURE YOU USE A SHARP KNIFE. Dull knives are the bane of any cook, and far too frequently *read: almost always* when I am at someone's house and helping out in the kitchen, with very few exceptions have I found people to actually keep their knives sharp enough. I like to get mine professionally sharpened a couple times a year, but also have this little nifty knife sharpening tool for both standard and Asian blades which does a reasonable job of keeping a good angle on the edge, removing the burrs from the metal, and of course, using a honing steel also straitens out those micro-burrs from the business end.

And worse case scenario, at least if you lop off a digit with a sharp knife, it'll be a clean cut and far easier to re-attach!! (I am joking. Kind of)

 Avocado is a fruit. Did you know that?

Avocado is a fruit. Did you know that?

Do you know how to tell if your avocado is ripe? It should be firm but give slightly to a slight squeeze. I know, it can sometimes go from being as hard as a bullet to soft and squishy in what seems like the blink-of-an-eye. A nicely ripe avocado should be firm but give slightly. IF, when you are trying to cut into it, it is hard, then it's not ripe yet. Stop. Put it in a paper bag with a banana and in a day or so it should be ripe. Or, if you cannot twist it open once cut, also a sign it's not ripe yet. If, on the other hand, it's totally mushy, then you may be scooping that stuff out for use in guacamole, or worse case scenario, it may only be good for use in a pudding (more on that in another post). I usually buy several at once and feel that my Ripe Avocado Management System (RAMS) works fairly well, and this involves having some in a wooden fruit bowl with other fruit and tomatoes, and some in the fridge when I cannot possibly eat the ripe ones all at once (kind of filling). Rarely, if ever, do I find a magical perfectly ripe avocado from the store so the ripening process always occurs at home.

In a nutshell: I cut the top end of the fruit off following the angle of the fruit.

 You don't have to do this, but it does allow you to tell whether it's ripe straight away, and can cut away any of those stringy bits when it's a bit too ripe.

You don't have to do this, but it does allow you to tell whether it's ripe straight away, and can cut away any of those stringy bits when it's a bit too ripe.

Now here is where you need to start being careful. I tend to hold it in my hand and use my extremely sharp knife to cut into it and work my way around the seed. The knife should slide in easily, almost zero pressure required. If you have to force it, either your knife is dull or the avocado is not ripe enough. Either way, this can lead to disaster.

IF your knife handling skills are sub-par, then I suggest you put the avocado down on a cutting board and slide the knife in sideways and rotate it around keeping your hand and fingers out of the danger zone. As I am in a rush and my knives are kick-ass and always sharp, I do it the quick way as most chefs will do. But you don't have to do that.

Once you have encircled the large stone and basically cut a longitudinal line around the entire pit, then you grasp each half and twist to open and separate. The two halves will come apart easily and you will have a pit in one half and just the flesh in the other.

I tend to peel the avocado with my fingers and then lay it on the cutting board to slice and dice as I want for my recipe. If you don't care, at this point you can use a spoon to scoop it out. (I am talking about the 1/2 without the pit) For the half with the pit, you could put the half seed-side-up on the cutting board, get your hand out of the way and flick your knife down onto the pit to embed it partially in there, grasp the outside of the fruit and give it a bit of a turn, and the seed should come loose. That is the VERY SAFE way to not stab yourself.

I just do this process while holding that half in my hand, but again: sharp knife, I cook for a living and understand that I don't need to massacre the damn seed to get the knife to grab hold of it.

I made a little video to go through this process in case my explanation is not clear enough:

Hope this helps you to get into eating more avocados, they are really good for you, add healthy fats to a meal, give you sustained energy throughout the day (because: fats) and they are tasty an can be used in both savoury and sweet applications.

Yours in Health ~ Dawn