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May/June 2016

Avocado Gadgets

As avocados have become more common in American kitchens, so, too, have specialized gadgets that promise to make it easier, neater, and safer than using a knife to prepare them. Were any of these gadgets worth buying?

How We Tested

Over the past decade, Americans’ consumption of avocados has doubled to more than one billion per year. As avocados have become more common in American kitchens, so, too, have specialized gadgets that promise to make it easier, neater, and safer than using a knife to prepare them. Were any of these gadgets worth buying? We ordered 10 models priced between $5.90 and $11.19 and evaluated how quickly and how precisely each tool halved, pitted, sliced, and scooped out smaller, denser Hass and bigger, more watery Florida avocados of different sizes and ripeness levels.

Not all of the tools were designed to accomplish all four tasks, and most of them were ineffective at the ones they did perform, halving the avocados with ragged cuts or mashing the soft interiors instead of making even, regular slices from end to end. Some were downright dangerous, slipping and threatening to cut or stab our hands. All of the tools were messy to use, getting little bits of avocado on our hands and arms.

That said, if the prospect of using a knife to pierce an avocado pit makes you cringe, the two-headed OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer, $9.95, is the gadget for you: It didn’t slice or scoop very neatly, but it features an ingenious set of prongs that easily and safely pit any avocado. It also does a decent job of cutting the avocado in half. And if you regularly make large batches of guacamole for parties or need to cut an avocado very precisely for a salad or tartare, the shoehorn-like Trudeau 3 in 1 Avocado Cutter might come in handy. While it wasn’t very good at pitting and its serrated blade wasn’t intended for slicing, it scooped out both Hass and Florida avocado halves quickly and perfectly, leaving virtually no avocado behind and allowing us to cut up the fruit with a chef’s knife in any way we liked.

Methodology

Halving: We awarded full points to tools that were able to halve large and small avocados in a single relatively quick motion. Points were subtracted from tools that weren’t sharp enough to pierce the avocado skin easily or failed to make fluid cuts, bruising, nicking, or sawing at the avocado inside.

Pitting: If the tool was able to get the pit out of the avocado safely and without damaging the surrounding flesh, we gave it high marks. Tools that felt dangerous to use—gouging at the avocado or slipping around the pit—received lower marks, as did tools that mashed the pit further into the flesh.

Slicing: The more precisely the tool was able to slice the avocado into neat, regularly shaped wedges, the more points we gave it. Tools that required us to use our fingers (or a knife) to push the slices through were downgraded.

Scooping: We preferred tools that were able to scoop out each avocado half without leaving much behind, subtracting points from tools that left a lot of wasted avocado in the skin.

Neatness: Gadgets that smeared avocados all over our hands or arms lost points—the messier they were, the lower they scored.

Comfort: We evaluated how easy the gadgets were to hold; tools that had handles that were too long, too short, or too angular/sharp were docked points.

Safety: Tools whose blades, wires, or edges were too sharp or pointy lost points, as did tools whose edges were too blunt, increasing the likelihood that the gadget would slip and gouge us.

Versatility: We awarded more points to tools that were capable of handling a greater range of avocados (big, small, ripe, overripe, and underripe).

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.