11/03/2011 02:35 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Cut An Avocado

Look for an avocado that gives slightly to pressure but isn't mushy, explains chef Iliana de la Vega of The Culinary Institute of America. She points out that if the tiny stem end is easy to remove, it means the avocado is ripe. Using a chef's knife, she cuts the avocado in half lengthwise, then twists it open. If there are any blemishes or brown spots, she advises removing them with a spoon. To remove the pit, she carefully taps the blade of the knife into the pit, then twists, so the pit remains attached to the knife. To get the pit off of the knife, she lightly taps it on the rim of a bowl, and it pops right off. Using a spoon, she carefully removes the flesh in one piece by running the spoon around the edge of the skin. Now the avocado can be sliced or made into guacamole.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Iliana de la Vega from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to cut an avocado.

Here we have an avocado. To know that it is ripe, you have to look for it when it is slightly soft - but not much. Sometimes what is good to check is this little thing that they have here, the stem; if you can easily remove it, then it will show you that it is ready to be opened.

Now we need a chef's knife, something like this, and you make a stroke here. Go into the very center of the avocado all the way around, to make a perfect cut. Now you twist, just like this - and this was a perfect avocado. If it has any blemish or even brownish color, with a spoon just scoop it out and it will be just perfect. You don't want any damaged part in your guacamole or whatever you're doing with it.

Now, the pit: how to get this out? You get a bowl. And this is what i'm going to do: whack the knife into the pit, gently but firmly. Then what you do is make a little bit of a turn with your knife, and you will have it out, the whole thing. Now you just hit it on something, like the edge of this bowl, and it comes out. That's it. And just scoop the whole avocado out with a spoon, if you want.

Your avocado is ready to be eaten. You can just slice it or anything you want: make a guacamole, sprinkle with salt... So this is how you cut an avocado.