Whether you’re preparing a breakfast of toast topped with a creamy, green spread of avocado or trying a new guacamole recipe, you might find yourself needing to cut an avocado properly. The fruit can make a great addition to many meals, but only when used safely.
Popularized in current media, “avocado hand” refers to the injury that results from slicing or stabbing oneself when attempting to de-pit an avocado.
Brent Bamberger, DO, who specializes in hand and elbow surgery at Kettering Health Network, says the best way to avoid avocado hand is to make sure your avocado is ripe.
“People are trying to dig out the pit when it’s not fully ripe,” Dr. Bamberger says. “If you try to put a knife around the pit, it will slice through an under-ripe avocado, and therefore your hand if you’re holding it.”
To make sure your avocado is ripe, cut it in half, sprinkle lemon juice on both halves, and press it back together. Wrap the avocado in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for a day or two. At that point your avocado should be ripe, and Dr. Bamberger says, the pit should be safe to remove.
Remember that you can skip the knife and use a spoon to scoop out an avocado pit.
Though popular, avocados aren’t the only opportunity for injury in the kitchen. Dr. Bamberger says that if you’re using a knife, make sure it’s sharp.
“Kitchen knives have to be sharp. Otherwise, you’re using an abnormal amount of pressure to cut through your food, and that’s when injuries happen,” Dr. Bamberger says.
Other tips for staying safe while using knives include cutting away from yourself and folding your fingers under when holding something you’re cutting.
If the knife falls from your hand, “Let it drop,” Dr. Bamberger says. Though your instinct may be to try to catch a falling knife, you are more likely to obtain an injury that way.
Finally, when using a knife or any other potentially hazardous tools in the kitchen, make sure you aren’t multitasking. Put away your cell phone and eliminate other distractions that could take your mind from what you’re doing.
If an accident happens, find your nearest emergency center and view the average wait time here.