Avoid the dreaded "avocado hand" injuries by learning how to pit and slice avocados the right way.
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How to pit and slice an avocado is a must-know kitchen skill, particularly if you're a big fan of guacamole or avocado toast. Cutting these green beauties incorrectly can result in cutting through to your skin and fingers (aka "avocado hand"). Here, we'll show you how to cut an avocado and how to pit an avocado the best (and safest) way. Toast, smoothies, and salads featuring avocados are all in your future!

Slicing avocado in half
Left: Credit: Scott Little

Step 1: Slice Around the Seed and Twist Apart

Wash your avocado. No, we don't eat the skin, but according to the FDA, one in five avocado skins can carry harmful bacteria like listeria or salmonella, so go ahead and give them a good rinse before you prep them. Use a knife to make a lengthwise cut around the seed, cutting through the skin and fruit. Holding the avocado in your hands, gently twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate them.

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Step 2: Remove Avocado Seed

Cut each half again. The half with the seed will be sticking out and ready for plucking by using a spoon to scoop under the pit.

Test Kitchen Tip: Always make sure to cut your ripe avocado with a sharp knife (like this one at Sur La Table for $44.95) on a cutting board. More people cut themselves with dull knives than sharp ones.

Credit: Scott Little

Step 3: Peel the Avocado

Peel away the skin from each of the quarters gently using your fingers. You can also use a small spoon to scoop out that green fruit. From there, you can slice, chop, or mash it to your desire.

How many calories in an avocado
Credit: Andy Lyons

How to Pick an Avocado

Learning how to tell if an avocado is ripe is key—no one likes tossing out overripe produce or waiting days on end for it to be ripe. While you're at the store, look for avocados that are not bruised or too soft, and that have no gouges or broken skin. If you're not using the avocado for three or four days (way to plan ahead!), choose firm avocados. If you need to use the avocados right away, choose a ripe avocado that yields to gentle pressure when cradled in your hand.

Store avocados at room temperature until they ripen, then refrigerate and use within three days. Refrigeration slows avocado ripening.

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How to Ripen an Avocado

If you purchase an avocado that's not quite ripe and want to speed the process along a little, you're not completely at the mercy of nature. We can't promise you the world—your unripe avocado won't be ripe in just a couple hours—but to ripen an avocado more quickly, here are a few tips:

  • Place the avocado in a small, clean paper bag. Don't use a plastic bag; it won't allow the fruit to breathe, and the trapped moisture could cause your avocado to grow mold instead of ripening.
  • Loosely close the bag and store it at room temperature. To speed up the ripening process even more, you can place an apple or ripe banana in the bag with the avocado.
  • Check your avocado daily. If you're trying to ripen multiple avocados at the same time, remove any that yield to gentle pressure. To check your avocados for ripeness, cradle one in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze rather than poking it with your thumb or finger (this can cause bruising).

Once your avocado is ripe, store it in the fridge for a couple of days (refrigerating an avocado will slow down further ripening). Of course, you can also enjoy it immediately with your favorite toppings or toss it in your morning smoothie.


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