/ Food & Drink

Update: avocado hand – should the fruit come with a warning sticker?

avocados

You’d have thought we’d know how to cut an avocado by now, but for some, getting one of their five-a-day can result in them losing a finger. Surely we don’t need warning stickers on our fruit… Or do we?

It’s Sunday, 11am, and I’m sat in one of my favourite south London eateries with my girlfriend. As we excitedly scan the brunch menu (yes, I’m one of those – don’t worry, it gets worse), me sipping my almond flat white (told you), my other half places her order. ‘I’ll have the smashed avocado on rye bread.’ (she’s just as bad).

Yum! I had the shakshuka, in case you were wondering.

Far from simply treating my partner to a fancy mid-morning meal, by leaving the house and having a professional prepare us some food, it actually turns out I’m protecting us both from inflicting a horrendous injury on ourselves.

Gone are the days when brunch was seen as a delicacy reserved for the metropolitan elite. Today, it’s a case of self-preservation.

It’s been a week and a half since a number of A&E departments reported a trend in brunch-related injuries; specifically in the preparation of avocado – the breakfast fruit favourite of city folk. Unfortunately, it seems they aren’t capable of safely cutting and destoning it themselves.

Avocado hand

The epidemic, being labelled ‘avocado hand’, has prompted health professionals having to treat the walking wounded – and hungry – to suggest the issuing of safety warnings.

Simon Eccles, honorary secretary of British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras) said: ‘There is minimal understanding of how to handle them. Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?’

Is this the world gone mad? Perhaps it’s something those brave enough to make avocado and poached eggs should seriously consider before picking up a knife.

Would you pay any attention to a warning sticker on an avocado? Do you have any battle scars where you’ve managed to accidentally impale yourself on a kitchen utensil?

Before signing off, and in an attempt to keep our community safe from the mouthwatering menace that is avocado, we wanted to share our tips for destoning and enjoying avocados safely.

Tip 1 Scoop out the stone with a spoon.

Tip 2 Hack down onto the stone with a knife so the middle of the blade (not the tip) just penetrates the surface, then twist to remove.

Tip 3 Invest in an avocado tool (yes, there really are such things – Google it!).

Update: 8 December 2017

Marks & Spencer may just have solved the problem of ‘avocado hand’, if only for Christmas, by launching stoneless avocados.

The supermarket’s new ‘cocktail avocados’, which will only be on sale in December, come without the perilous stone and can be eaten skin and all, so you don’t even have to peel them. If that doesn’t appeal, you can simply cut off one end and squeeze out the flesh.

Grown in Spain and measuring just 5-8cm in length, the groundbreaking fruit is the result of an unpollinated avocado blossom, which develops without the seed.

Comments
Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
21 May 2017

” The problem may not be at endemic levels, but at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, Mr Eccles says he treats about four patients a week with avocado hand. And at St Thomas’s hospital in London, staff have actually become accustomed to the “post-brunch surge” on Saturdays, the Times reports.”

I look forward to the warning on fat splatter at nudist camps around the UK : )

Is Which? proposing a section on dealing with vegetables and fruit safely? It might be an added reason to be a subscriber if you can confidently use Which? for advice on many matters. And it could be linked to the report on best splatter guard, and avocado tool.

Guest

I think you’ve found the target market for the novelty aprons emblazoned with nudey torsos Patrick.

We’re not necessarily suggesting a whole new category of product testing. But, you’ve got to admit, it could potentially be something we may have to look at more seriously. especially if our NHS is having to deal with injuries sustained through the preparation of a certain fruit and vegetables.

I would definitely read Which? reviews of so-called ‘life hack’ type kitchen tools though.

Guest

To remove an avocado stone from a half avocado, hold the avocado with one hand and twist a corkscrew into the stone for a few turns with the other, then pull firmly.

Guest

I fear holding the fruit in one hand and any type of sharp utensil in the other to prepare a meal could end in with blood being drawn.

Guest

The consequences of taking learning to cook and food management off the curriculum come back to cut us on the hand…

We just need a few headlines, you tube videos and good cookery programmes to put us back on track and avoiding the worst of the gory damage but it will take us much longer to teach people how to feed themselves and their families easy and nutritional food as more than one generation have lost the skills. School is not the only place of learning. Here is where Granny and Grandad could be very useful teachers.

I took the end off a finger with a mandolin because I wasn’t careful enough. Several years later I braved the machine again and I’m really not sure it is worth the bother. It would have been better to have learnt really good knife skills instead.

Guest

Eeesh! Yes, mandolins can be dearth traps for the ends of our fingers. I have enough trouble with graters. Not sure I’m brave enough to go straight to the potato guillotine.

Totally agree with your second point. A number of my friends, who are no longer in their twenties, still seem to struggle in the kitchen and specifically the creation of healthy, nutritious meals. As a veggie I have to try a little harder to ensure I’m getting everything my body needs so I find it hard to believe some people my age survive on a diet of beige: http://12roundsboxing.co.uk/are-you-surviving-on-the-diet-of-beige/

Guest

I had not appreciated the danger of mandolins, only that there is too much violins on TV.

Guest

Almost anything that is tricky or risky has a plethora of instructions and tips on-line nowadays, including the notoriously fiendish avocado preparation experience. What none of them say is whether, with sharp knife in hand, one should address the avocado lengthwise or crosswise. Perhaps it makes no difference but I think twisting the fruit to expose the stone would be easier across the width than along the length . . . just a poser to prolong this intensely fascinating discussion. They probably look better served as two matching halves than as a top and a bottom. Avocado aficionados would probably benefit from investing in a chain-mail glove of the sort worn by butchers; this would take a lot of the pressure off A&E and help the country get back on its feet.

What else is there to do on a Sunday morning in London than admit to balsamic vinegar anxiety, or try to resolve the quinoa pronunciation conundrum? At last, the ever-resourceful avocado has provided a new topic of metropolitan discourse. Stone me! Whatever next!?

Personally I can’t stand the taste of avocado, smashed or otherwise, and don’t even think of putting guacamole on the table.

Guest

That’s what my utensil drawer is missing! A chain mail glove! Would love to see my friends’ faces when I pull that out.

‘Stone me!’ Very clever @johnward. Your wordplay is a ‘cut’ above.

Guest

Looking for something completely different, I saw that Amazon offer a number of ‘cut resistant gloves’. I am taking up the carpet on the stairs and landing in an old house and it is incredibly tough. I cannot cut it with any tools I have and it is awkward to get in the corners and edges so I have ordered a specialist knife and scissors and while I was at it I included a pair of “NoCry Cut Resistant Gloves with Secure-Grip Microdots and Level 5 Cut Protection. Comfort-Fit. Food Grade, Size Medium. Includes Free eCookbook!“. I have already reduced my fingernails to shreds and taken the skin off my knuckles so hopefully this equipment will do the job and then be useful in the kitchen for the occasional avocado.

Guest

For those incapable of using common sense, try holding the halved avocado (assuming you have managed to cut it thus without severing an artery) with an oven glove before chopping into the stone with a (sharp) knife and rwisting it free.

I wonder how many of us have managed to survive diy all these years – chisels (keep both hands behind the edge), circular saws – use the guard…….. We ran courses in a factory for the workers to keep them (relatively) safe – for their benefit and the insurers. A basic lesson was not to point a screwdriver towards your other hand when tightening a screw – it can slip and make a hole.

Guest

From some of the avocadoes I have been given to eat in restaurants it is obvious that the not everybody serving them knows (or cares) when they are ripe. Much of the fruit and vegetables sold isn’t ripe when it leaves the shop and needs time to ripen before being eaten.

I cut all around the stone lengthwise and twist so that it comes apart in two halves. I then cut it into quarters and the stone is easy to remove. I then peel the skin off each quarter. There’s no flesh left on the skin!

Guest

An oven glove could be a nice substitute while you wait for your chain mail glove to arrive in the post. But, I would always recommend dropping the blade onto the stone only when the avocado half is facing stone-up on a chopping board and not cupped in your hand.

Just ensuring Which? isn’t seen to be giving out digit-endangering advice here @malcolm-r 🙂

Guest

@lessismore – Your technique has been illustrated here: 🙂

Guest

Would one chain mail glove suffice? Surely they’d be sold in pairs, solely to accommodate for the left-handed population?

Guest

You need a Daunt. Stronger than a Gauntlet and much more fun…

Guest

That’s great. You could also show how if you peel the skin off rather than scooping the flesh out you make the most of the flesh. This of course always depends on you choosing a ripe avocado to start with. I think this is really what the problem is. You can’t smash or mash a hard avocado. Are there more of the dark rough skinned avocadoes around now than the thinner skinned green ones? The dark rough skinned Haas ones are a bit harder to tell if ripe. Avocadoes are one of the fruits that can be marked down and left on sale when they are overripe and I would consider them inedible even in guacamole.

Interestingly I learnt recently that the stone might be better for you than the flesh. However my ancient Robotchef isn’t strong enough to pulverise the stone and is best for grating carrots. When it dies I shall be looking for a replacement that can do more. The stone doesn’t taste very nice though and would need to be mixed in with a smoothie.

Guest

With acknowledgement and apologies to Monty Python (and any convo regulars whose names are used here):

WC: Today on Which? Conversation we’ll be carrying on from where we got to last week when we were showing you how to defend yourselves against anyone who attacks you with armed with a piece of fresh fruit.

Ian: Oh, you promised you wouldn’t do fruit this week.

WC: What do you mean?

malcolm_r: We’ve done fruit the last nine weeks.

WC: What’s wrong with fruit? You think you know it all, eh?

wavechange: Can’t we do something else for a change?

DerekP: Like someone who attacks you with a pointed stick?

WC: Pointed stick? Oh, oh, oh. We want to learn how to defend ourselves against pointed sticks, do we? Getting all high and mighty, eh? Fresh fruit not good enough for you eh? Well I’ll tell you something my lad. When you’re walking home tonight and some homicidal maniac comes after you with an avocado , don’t come crying to me! Now, the avocado . When your assailant lunges at you with an avocado …

Guest

We have a serious subject that could avoid people chopping their arteries and Derek takes our names in vein.

Guest

‘Av-a-car-do, Derek! Much enjoyed.

Guest
Lesley Wild says:
21 May 2017

I eat a lot of avocados and would generally consider myself to be pretty clumsy but I have never suffered any injury preparing them and have never needed instruction on how to do so! Are people so daft that they cannot work this out for themselves? I certainly never learnt at home as avocados had barely been heard of in those days. I just cut lengthways around the stone, twist the two halves apart and flip the stone out (pointed away from me and fingers out of the way) with the point of the knife.