Why you need to be careful with that avocado

2018 food and cooking trends – our guesses total knife care

It all started with demographer Bernard Salt lamenting that young people who should have been saving their money for a first home deposit were instead regularly lashing out on ‘smashed avocado with crumbed feta’ for breakfast at hipster cafes for ‘$22 a pop’.

Overnight the ‘smashed avo’ became a ‘meme’ brandished by anyone from the tv news presenters to smart cafes getting in on the act with bargain prices for the much sought after delicacy. And this Australian obsession has now spread around the world, with Time Magazine introducing an ‘avocado toast calculator’ to calculate how many smashed avocado on toast breakfasts people would have to pass up to afford a home.

Not only is it a delicious food, it’s basking in the glory of being endorsed by nutritionists as having all the good fats and a raft of other good things – vitamins B, C, E and K and potassium and magnesium.

The not so humble avocado has a very interesting history – originally native to Mexico, the avocado spread around the globe shortly after the discovery of the New World, reaching Australia in the late 1800s. Today Mexico remains far and away the largest producer of avocados. The word ‘avocado’, even though it sounds like the Spanish word for ‘lawyer’ (abogado) is in fact derived from the native Mexican Nahuatl word ‘ahuacatl’, which there is evidence to show may also have meant ‘testicle’ in that language. Which would have made for some interesting conversations around the dinner table.

The most popular variety around the world today is the Hass, with 80% of all avocados grown in the world being this variety.

But why do you need to be careful?

What’s more concerning to us about the popularity of avocado is a recent report on The New Daily revealing the dangers of eating avocado. Nothing to do with what’s in them, more to do with the likelihood of injuring yourself when slicing one up.

Apparently there has been a marked increase in people going to the emergency department with a case of ‘avocado hand’. The most common injury is where people have accidentally stabbed themselves in the hand trying to remove the stone. The biggest risk is cutting through one of the tendons in the hand which takes three months to recover from, the hand being out of action for the whole time.

In the UK surgeons are even calling for safety labels to be stuck on each avocado, with accidents with avocados responsible for most of the severe cuts to the hand they see.

So – what is the best way to safely prepare your smashed avo on toast? There are of course two stages to opening an avocado – number one slicing it down the middle into two equal halves. This part isn’t the dangerous part. The dangerous manoeuvre is part two – removing the stone.

Apparently many people stab at it with the point of the knife and, when you miss using this technique you generally get your hand instead. The preferred method is to hold the half with the stone in it evenly in your hand and with a swift movement lodge the blade (not the point) in the centre of the stone, then lever the stone out by twisting it.

Jamie Oliver has even produced a video showing the safest way to do this. Although he admits that ‘advanced cooks’ normally hold the avocado half in their hands as described above, an even safer method he recommends is to put the avocado on a chopping board and deftly and gently ‘whack’ the knife blade into the stone (no hands anywhere near it), then pick up the avocado and twist the stone out as above.

A UK surgeon goes one step further and suggest getting the stone out with a spoon. Doesn’t look quite so flash though…

And our advice? Don’t use a knife with a sharp point at all – use something like the I.O. Shen Nakiri vegetable knife. Also check out our previous article When should kids be allowed knives for some useful kitchen knife safety tips – for adults and children alike.

Here’s the official Jamie Oliver YouTube video on how not to injure yourself with an avocado…

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