Avoid ‘Avocado Hand’ with Knife Selection and Safety for All Cooks

Knife selection is key to kitchen safety and can help you enjoy
cooking and prep much more! Learn which knives should be in
your kitchen, and why keeping them sharp is key to happy hands.

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy avocados, but be careful
not to fall victim to ‘avocado hand.’

The headline for this story actually made me giggle when I
first saw it, but apparently it’s a THING, and I thought
it would be a good jumping-off point for talking about
knife selection and knife safety.

‘Avocado hand,’ according to
Food Safety News,
 is the name that emergency
rooms have given the severe hand injuries that result from
improper cutting of avocados. It’s common enough that it got
the nickname in the UK, but it’s no joke.

FSN reports that improper cutting can result in, “serious cuts
because they lost control of their knives while trying to
get to the good stuff between the skin and stone of the
fruit.” The Times newspaper writes that “Many
cases involve serious nerve and tendon injuries, requiring
intricate surgery — and even then some patients never recover
the full use of the hand.” Yikes!

Cooking from Scratch

Knife Safety for Everyone (for Avocados and More)

Proper cutting techniques and a selection of good quality,
sharp knives are key to safety in the kitchen,
for avocados and all fruits and vegetables. Good technique
can help make cutting faster, add diversity to your vegetable
presentation, and can make chopping truly joyful.

Related: Knife Sharpening 

The New York Times has a great visual and written
guide to proper knife skills that can help even the most
seasoned chef learn the basics of  chopping
techniques
. Whether you choose to slice, dice, cube, or
julienne your veggies, doing it with proper techniques


The Kitchn
explains that while a sharper knife does more
work with less cuts (thus leading to fewer chances for injury
because of numerical probability), I also think that a sharp
knife just makes it easier to cut things, so there is less
muscling through the chopping, julienning, or dicing. Sure some
foods require muscle, like
kabocha squash
or big, woody beets, but most veggies can be
cut with a minimum of effort with a proper knife.

Knife Selection for Easy Chopping

People are often surprised about my excitement around
the topic of knife selection and safety, but it’s truly so
important. Choosing the right
knife
makes cooking safer and more fun.

I’m always surprised when I visit friends’ houses and their
knife selection is limited to a steak knife, which undoubtedly
makes their food prep more time-consuming and less
enjoyable.

knife selection

To address this, I shared a post on my
Instagram
 about what types of knives are in my
arsenal. A proper chef’s knife is really my most important
tool, and if I’m traveling anywhere for more than a few weeks
(and I know cooking will be happening) I always take my knife
with me.

It’s long been my contention that good knives don’t have to be
super expensive, but they do have to FIT you. I’m so thankful
to my old housemate who gave me my chefs knife – it’s my number
one tool in the kitchen. The smallest is a Wusthoff paring
knife. It was a gift, and is one of the most expensive pieces
of kitchen equipment I own. The others are cheap, but insanely
helpful. A leftover ‘steak’ knife from my first knife set 17
years ago and a small Santoku knife from Target. I do need to
add a proper serrated knife for loaves of bread and proper cuts
of tomatoes.

And it turns out, this set of knives is all you need, at least
according to
LifeHacker
. A beginner’s knife set should include at
least a paring knife (for small fruits and veggies, and for
coring) and a chef’s knife for larger veggies and for volume
prep. They also recommend a serrated knife and a Santoku. They
also suggest not buying a knife set, as these might be lower
quality and might not fit you well.

Trying out knives at a fancy store (like Williams Sonoma) will
help you find what type of knives feel good, and then you can
find less-expensive versions at thrift stores or less-expensive
stores.


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