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Making solid pieces out of a ripe avocado is a difficult business (for me, anyway). What is the best way to remove the peel and pit without ending up with a pile of green mush? I can sometimes remove the peel without too much difficulty, but that pit always gives me grief.

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The answers below are excellent, but I think the basic problem you have is that you are envisioning removing the peel from the avocado, when in reality what you should do is remove the avocado from the peel. –  nohat Jul 26 '10 at 21:00
    
@nohat: that is an excellent point. The image in Jon Galloway's answer shows it, but it certainly helps to have it spelled out. Thank you :) –  e.James Jul 27 '10 at 23:06
    
The currently accepted answer to this question is obsolete, and is depreciated by the California Avocado Commission in favor of an algorithm which IS based on removing the peel from the avocado, not the other way around. –  MickLH Jun 20 at 20:39
    
@MickLH That's pretty much the way I've always done it. I'm a bit puzzled by the use of the term "algorithm". This isn't a calculation, it's a method..for separating avacados from peels. –  Jolenealaska Aug 22 at 6:17
    
@Jolenealaska I call it an algorithm because it's an automated system of reasoning. One which produces a dynamical step-by-step procedure for processing data stored as physical matter. Thus, so I feel the terminology is appropriate. Your brain is the processor, and hands are the memory controller, computing a peeled avocado. –  MickLH Aug 22 at 8:46

5 Answers 5

up vote 25 down vote accepted

The California Avocado Commission recommends this (safe but wimpy - see below for a better way) three-step process:

  1. Start with a ripe avocado and cut it lengthwise around the seed. Rotate the halves to separate.
  2. Remove the seed by sliding the tip of a spoon gently underneath and lifting out. The other common seed-extraction method - striking the seed with a knife and twisting - requires some skill and is not recommended.
  3. Peel the fruit by placing the cut side down and removing the skin with a knife or your fingers, starting at the small end. Or simply scoop out the avocado meat with a spoon. Be sure to sprinkle all cut surfaces with lemon or lime juice or white vinegar to prevent discoloration.

alt text

Source: California Avocado Commission

Notes:

  • Another (and my favorite) way to remove the pit is by holding the half with the pit in one hand and striking the sharp edge of the knife used in step one into the pit, then twisting to remove. This is the "pro" way to do it, but takes a little practice. The video Nate referenced in the comments shows how to do it, it's not that hard.
  • If you're going to be chopping the avocado up, you slice it up using the tip of the knife still in the shell, then scoop the sliced avocado meat out with a spoon.
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5  
The "striking with the knife" method works for me. –  offby1 Jul 19 '10 at 5:27
    
Image and everything. Nice! Thank you :) –  e.James Jul 19 '10 at 5:50
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Video of the "striking with the knife" pit-removal method, which is pretty easy: chow.com/stories/11526 –  Nate Kohl Jul 19 '10 at 14:15
    
Phooey on not recommending the strike-and-twist pit removal method. I'm sure that's just the Avocado Commission's lawyers afraid of getting sued by someone who doesn't know how to use a knife. The spoon pit removal method is much trickier and much more frustrating. Do it just like in the video @nate posted. It's super fast and easy. –  nohat Jul 20 '10 at 18:43
    
I just made homemade guacamole last night actually, and used that very method. Works every time... including the knife into the pit technique. –  Nick Jul 20 '10 at 21:20

After 4 years... the classical spoon based method for avocado processing is obsolete.

The Triptych Peel Method

This combines a well known method to remove the seed, with a scheme for conservatively reducing the skin tension by a series of shallow cuts along the surface. This process allows for direct removal of both seed and skin, with minimal effort and minimal wasted fruit.

  • Get a ripe avocado and make sure your workspace is clear for cutting on. If there is a produce sticker, remove it. Gently cut through the skin until you find the seed.

first cut

  • Rotate the avocado itself 360 degrees, firmly maintaining the knife against the seed.

cut in half

  • Take the avocado with both hands, and twist each half in opposite directions, to unlock one half from the seed. (Sorry for the blurry image, the camera rig got bumped during exposure)

twist

  • Gently press the knife into the seed, until you have gripped it well.

grip the seed

  • Use the leverage of the knife to turn the seed until it unlocks. (Sometimes moving back and forth helps here.)

seed unlocked

This concludes the standard seed removal, now for the triptych skin removal.

  • Cut a small notch upwards, out of the avocado at the 1/3rd point.

start skinning

  • Cut another small notch upwards, out of the avocado at the 2/3rds point.

triptych

  • Hold the avocado on your cutting surface so your notches are at the top, be sure your grip does not put your fingers in harms way! Now make two shallow scratches down the surface of the avocado, starting from each notch, just deep enough to split the skin.

cut the skin

  • Take the skin by a corner and peel it off. Make sure to start on the side with no hole, to avoid the skin cracking.

peel

  • Enjoy! I have exaggerated the lines here as a visual aid, but the avocado half is still in one solid piece. Can be sliced into "rings" which are wonderfully convenient for sandwiches.

lines

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I've reduced the size of the images to make this easier to read through. I also removed the references to the California Avocado Commission, which seemed misleading and unnecessary: your method is definitely not the same as theirs, and they've had their method on their website for at least a year and a half before you posted this. –  Jefromi Aug 21 at 14:41
    
Thanks for the cleanup! Although in my defense, I only claimed the insight is the same: Extract the impurities efficiently, instead of extracting the reagent inefficiently! –  MickLH Aug 22 at 16:27

A related tip to prevent browning: Put lemon juice

  • On the avocado that you are serving and
  • On the half that you are putting into the fridge with plastic wrap.

The vitamin C (ascorbic acid) prevents the oxidation that turns the flesh brown.

UPDATE: The top answer on this question: Which acid is the most effective against oxidation of avocados? strongly suggests that my answer here is incorrect and just the propagation of a food urban legend.

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or lime, or vinegar. –  daniel Jul 19 '10 at 6:01
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Also, on the half you don't use, keep the seed intact! That significantly helps slow the oxidation process. –  Josh Stodola Feb 22 '11 at 19:00
    
Thanks for the plug! And keep your eyes open for an update, I suspect we'll see great things with ascorbic acid and sodium bisulfite. The substances are easy to acquire, but I'm picky about my guacamole! :) –  Jolenealaska Aug 21 at 4:40

You need to have a ripe fruit. It is ripe when the neck (narrow part) just gives under a light squeeze. You can tell a ripe fruit because the peel will come off in large pieces, not sticking to the fruit and tearing or coming off easily and crumbling. Take a knife with a sharp tip and cut through just the skin as if cutting the fruit in quarters lengthwise. Then, following the previous cutting of the skin only, cut the fruit in half to the seed. Then twist the two halves apart, the seed will stay in one half. Hack the knife into the seed embedded in the half avacado and twist the seed out. Then peel the two pieces of skin off of each half, if you have a ripe avacado, each 1/4 skin will come off as one piece. Enjoy.

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  1. Cut the avocado in half (around the pit)
  2. Jab the pit with the pointy end of a knife
  3. Twist the knife to dislodge the pit, hit it on the side of your sink until the pit flies off and hits you in the head
  4. Use a big spoon to scoop the flesh out of the skin of the two halves.
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You can also use just the normal cutting edge of the knife in rather than the point if that appeals to you more, but the idea is the same. –  Chris Thompson Jul 19 '10 at 4:40
    
@Chris Thompson, I think the pointy part is probably better for not messing up the avocado, since it takes significantly less force (less surface area). –  Brendan Long Jul 19 '10 at 4:48
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I've poked myself accidentally when using the "pointy part" method. Believe me, the "edge" method works as well, and is less likely to poke! –  offby1 Jul 19 '10 at 5:28
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The tip of the knife method is a really bad idea. Avocado pits are very hard and very smooth, which translates to points sliding off. Best to use a good 8-10" French knife, hit the pit with the blade near the heel, twist, remove. –  daniel Jul 19 '10 at 6:01
    
Hm, I guess I'll have to try that. –  Brendan Long Jul 19 '10 at 18:48

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