In case you find yourself in need of a break from all the ‘Holiday Gift Roundups’ or ‘what to do with all those leftovers’ articles, I figured I’d share a practical a-seasonal guide for something I bet most of us will still want to do throughout the winter: how to process an avocado without suffering grievous bodily injury.
Avocado hand—the colloquial name for a condition arising from improper avocado cutting technique—sounds like it might be grotesque in a sort of Cronenbergian way, but is actually grotesque in more of a Wes Craven-esque sort of way. Seriously, don’t image search it. The prevalence of this self inflicted wound is, in my opinion, due in part to the fact that nobody on the internet seems to get the technique for breaking down an avocado right. Even cooking websites that I love, staffed with people whose opinions I trust implicitly seem to always get at least a couple things wrong. Thus I felt compelled to offer what I can in the fight against completely-avoidable-and-slightly-embarrassing-injuries.
The main thing that contributes to people cutting their hands open trying to get inside an avocado is this romantic idea that all avocado processing steps can, nay should be done while holding the fruit (technically a berry) in your hand. This is a pernicious lie. Free your minds, people. The best way to quickly and easily access the fatty flesh of the avocado is by keeping it on your dang cutting board away from the fatty flesh on the palms of your hands. Not only that, but using your cutting board actually makes cutting the avocado easier, and you’ll get better, more regular cuts. Ready? Here we go:
First we will bisect the avocado lengthwise, and twist it apart. I actually have no problem with doing this step in your hand. It probably is safer than trying to cut a round wobbly avocado on a flat board. This step most people get right. After this? Not so much.
Next we will place both halves on the cutting board. Now firmly, and confidently whack your knife into to pit with your other hand ideally nowhere near the blade, and twist to remove. To get the pit off your knife simply place two fingers behind the pit, and pinch. Look at how easily we avoided a hazard.
Now to slice. I’m not sure why so many people say to slice or dice the avocado still in its skin while holding it in your hand. Truly, it makes no sense. The mind boggles. Not only is it dangerous and unnecessary, it actually makes it more difficult to scoop out of the skin later. This technique is what the phrase “worse than useless” was invented for. Just scoop it out now (though a truly ripe avocado can just be peeled with your fingers) and place the stable flat cut side on your board. Now we can easily cut it into any shape or size we need.
Will I be remembered as the intrepid chef-instructor who eradicated the Avocado Hand threat? Maybe. I hope so. But even if I’m not, I hope this will at least help some of you enjoy one of the world’s most delicious fruits without putting yourself in harm’s way.
If you’re interested in more avocado tips and tricks, which—lets face it—if you’ve read to the end of this you probably are, check out any of our upcoming classes at The Chopping Block that work with avocados notably , , and . Hope to see you there exercising your newly acquired skills.