Food

Beware 'avocado hand'! 5 tips for staying safe from this latest kitchen scourge

There's a learning curve to slicing an avocado properly, and the consequences can be nasty if you don't do it right. Avocado-related injuries are on the rise, according to a recent New York Times report.

No one keeps stats on injuries by ingredient per se, but many medical professionals are anecdotally noticing an increase, the report said.

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Careful there! Many doctors are reporting an uptick in injuries related to slicing up avocados.

It's probably because more of us are eating avocados: Today, Americans eat more than 4 billion avocados a year. That's a steep climb from the roughly 1 billion mark back in 2000. It seems we just can't get enough guacamole and avocado toast.

NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres, an emergency room physician, told TODAY Food that while he does see avocado-related injuries, he personally has not seen a big upswing recently. But, he adds, they can be bad when they do happen.

"Most come about when someone is preparing guacamole, and [the cuts] can be deep," Torres said. "Avocado-related injuries are more common than most people think, and the resulting lacerations to the hand can be nerve-damaging."

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Look out! Most avocado-related accidents tend to happen when people are making guacamole, Dr. John Torres observed.

So how can you safely prepare avocados — with their odd shapes and tough skins? Here are some tips from the experts at Haas Avocado Board and the California Avocado Commission:

1. Put a dish towel under your cutting board. (Or use something similar to prevent slipping.)

2. Lay the avocado on its side. Wash it off, first, of course, and use a ripe avocado, which will be softer.

California Avocado Commission
Place one hand on top to steady the avocado.

3. Hold the avocado securely with one hand on top. Keep those fingers out the way!

4. Cut it lengthwise around the seed. Use your other hand to slice slowly all the way around the seed, starting at the narrower end. Rotate the fruit around to get the other side.

5. Twist and rotate. Use a spoon to scoop out the seed, the Haas board recommends.

Pro tip: Alternatively, there is another technique for removing the pit — and no, it's not using a knife, which is a "common mistake" and "isn't the safest way," a spokesperson for the California Avocado Commission told TODAY Food.

California Avocado Commission
Slicing an avocado into quarters makes it easier to the remove the pit and skin, according to the California Avocado Commission.

After slicing the avocado in half, rotate it on its side 90˚and slice it in half again, creating four quarters.

California Avocado Commission
Voila! Going the extra step to quarter the avocado creates an easy-release pit and skin.

This method also makes it very easy to just peel off the skin, which holds some health benefits: The dark-green flesh closest to the avocado's skin has the greatest concentration of carotenoids, according to the CAC. If you just scoop the avocado out of its shell, you may be leaving some of that behind.

(Of course, first master the part where you safely cut the thing up.)

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