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“Avocado hand” is real. I would know. Follow these tips for perfectly pitted avocados without the trip to the ER.
Laura Michelle Davis
Laura is a professional nitpicker and good-humored troubleshooter who has worked as an English teacher, Spanish medical interpreter, copy editor and proofreader. She is a fearless but flexible defender of both grammar and weightlifting, and firmly believes that technology should serve the people. Her first computer was a Macintosh Plus.
This story is part of, CNET’s collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.
Every year, thousands of well-intentioned cooks experience “avocado hand” — the official term for an injury that occurs when you’re trying to remove the avocado pit with a knife and you accidentally pierce your hand instead of the pit. The wound can require anything from a bandaid to stitches or surgery.
I should know because it happened to me last year. I had a little too much wine before adding the final touch to my Mexican mole enchiladas: a topping of avocado slices. Cradling the freshly halved fruit in my hand, I struck at the pit with a fencing jab. The tiny but ferocious knife blade missed and punctured my palm, hitting a nerve under my ring finger. There was minimal blood, so despite almost fainting and losing sensation in two fingertips, I gallantly gauzed up my hand and continued entertaining my guests.
The next day at urgent care, I described my stab wound as a “kitchen accident.” The physician responded: “Cutting an avocado, eh? We get that all the time.”
One Insider analysis estimated nearly 9,000 avocado-related visits to the ER in the US during 2018 — that’s almost 25 people a day. According to one doctor I spoke with, many occur during Super Bowl parties, when guacamole-loving football fans eat some 105 million pounds of avocados.
Everyone has their preferred technique to remove the avocado pit — some families pass it down through generations. Many insist on striking the pit with the blade of the knife, then twisting the seed out while protecting your hand with a dish towel or potholder. But that method still involves risk, especially since you then have to remove the pit from the sharp blade.
I know better and safer ways. Whether you’re making avocado toast, guacamole or a Cobb salad, here are two techniques for removing the seed that don’t require any sharp knives. For more tips, here’s how to, how to and with this five-minute routine each night.
To get started, all you’ll need is a butter or table knife to cut the avocado in half. Note that both of these techniques work best on a ripe avocado.
Place the avocado on its side on a cutting board or other surface. Using your dull knife, pierce the skin down to the pit and rotate the avocado in a rolling motion away from you until you’ve sliced the avocado in half, all the way through.
Then, separate the two sides of the avocado by twisting the halves in opposite directions.
Pro tip: You can use that same knife to slice the avocado up once you’re done removing the pit.
For this method, grab a spoon. I prefer to use a regular teaspoon size with a pointier tip — not a soup spoon.
Now, position the spoon under the narrower part of the pit. Then just lift the pit out by scooping it.
Using the spoon is cool, sure, but this second method requires nothing more than your fingers.
Place your index and middle fingers on either side of the pit, with your thumb on the backside (skin) of the avocado, almost like you’re gently gripping a baseball — or forming an upside-down tripod around the base. Then push the pit forward with your thumb as if you’re plunging a syringe, and the seed will pop out.
The only potential risk with either of these “no-knife” methods is a flying pit. Be sure to aim away from children, small pets or anything breakable.
For more fun (and safe) techniques, check out how to, how to without a plunger and how to without a bottle opener.