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Pitting cherries...without a cherry pitter.

I've got more cherries left after the three jars of alcohol infusion. I want to make a clafouti, but don't know the best way to pit Bing cherries without a pitter, and keep the full shape intact. Any ideas?

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  1. There are two ways that I know to pit a cherry (without a cherry pitter)--

    1) hammer a (clean) nail through a (clean) board so that the point sticks out. Push the cherry on to the point of the nail so that the pit pops through the other side.

    2) open a paperclip into a skinny "S" shape. Push the top of the S into the cherry and hook the pit with the look and yank it out. This is slow but you'll get the hang of it, and has the advantage of only puncturing the cherry on one side.

    Both methods are ridiculously messy so don't wear your favorite white shirt. I do it in the sink so the juice doesn't stain my countertop/table.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chococat

      And wear gloves, too, or you'll be scrubbing cherry stains out from under your nails for days.

      1. re: chococat

        Oh my goodness, my very first time ever picking cherries and pitting.....it is sooo easy, will take some time but no effort at all, I used a pair of tweezers....stuck one end into the cherry and popped out the pit...That EASY....I am so amazed and happy with myself...

      2. I always use the paper clip method described by the other responder. I hate having gadgets that do one thing. A paper clip is small and as easy. I do find gthat the juice can stain my nails, so if going out soon after or having company, I actually wear rubber gloves.

          1. I thought a clafoutis was supposed to be made with pit-in cherries? They add flavor, and it's simple to warn people to watch for them.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Louise

              I just read a book where a woman would do things like that... leave in pits, or add grit, or even add things like pushpins, so that people would slow down and really savor the food. Of course, the outcome was that they all remembered her as adding really vile things to her food.

              1. re: pamalamb

                Deliberately adding nasty stuff, I would not advocate. But fresh cherries come with pits, and they are not difficult, complicated, or vile to spit out. Demanding of some slight diplomacy of manners, but I hope to not generate controversy by saying that this is something we are probably all capable of accomplishing.

                1. re: Louise

                  Just a personal preference for me to have pitted cherries.

            2. I have done it before by pushing through wthe cherries with a chopstick (the blunt, rather than pointy, shape), but it always breaks my heart to leave so much cherry flesh on the pit. Had to do it when I had a toddler who loved cherries but could not figure out how to spit out the pit.

              1. I saw Martha Stewart pitting them with the business end of a metal pastry bag tip. $1 for a small one or $2 for a large one, certainly much cheaper than a cherry pitter!

                5 Replies
                1. re: Pei

                  I tried the paperclip method, which was ok. Then, I tried a pastry tip and that worked perfectly! Easy and quick. Thanks Pei (and Martha)!

                  1. re: QueenB

                    I second this. I did not try the paper clip method but went straight to the pastry tip and it worked like a charm. The easiness of the clafouti recipe I was using certainly balanced out pitting the cherries (yeah, I know it's traditional to leave the pits in, but I just didn't want to). Now I've got to go to the farmer's market again tomorrow to get more cherries! Thanks for the info!

                  2. re: Pei

                    I got a cherry pitter for like $4 that works fine. I figured if I made 4 pies wtih it, that was worth the cost. Thank you.

                    1. re: Bride of the Juggler

                      I read your post and registered so I could reply. I had my son-in-law save me a beer bottle and tried your method..and have been using it and will keep using it. It works great! Another unexpected benefit is the holes are large so my parrot can easily pick the cherries up!

                      1. re: Bride of the Juggler

                        I'm with you Bride. I ordered a cute litte gadget from the Solutions catalog called the Cherry Chomper. It looks like a cartoon character and works like a charm.

                    2. This method works well and causes little mess. However, you will have holes on both sides of the cherry.

                      You need an empty beer bottle and an ordinary pencil.

                      1) remove the eraser completely from the end of the pencil, leaving the metal part empty.

                      2)place the cherry on top of the beer bottle.

                      3) use the pencil, metal end first to push into the spot where the stem was and all the way through the cherry, and into the bottle.

                      You will end up with a bottle full of pits, and cherries with none.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: desantmj

                        I do that exact method but i use a sturdy plastic straw.

                      2. I usually leave the pits in, but one time I dug them all out with the skinny end of a teaspoon. It took a long time but didn't make too much mess.

                        1. A bobby pin makes a good pitter. The rounded end is much like a paper clip but smaller and stiffer.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AnnieJ

                            Bobby pin worked just amazing - in a second! thanks

                          2. Yes! A large bobby pin works like a charm. Pitted 2# of cherries yesterday in no time. Didn't know what-in-the-heck at first, but you just pretty much insert the loop of the pin into the stem end of the cherry..."feel" around and pull. I found that for riper cherries, it's easier if you loosen the flesh all around the stem opening first 'cause more flesh is stuck to the pit.

                            1. I grew up with 4 cherry trees in the backyard, so mom always had me help jar, make pies, whatever. We always used a hairpin. As I grew, I found a bobby pin was a little sturdier, although I do like the hook you can make out of a hairpin. Either is fine, though and never needed to buy anything. Plus, use once and throw away!

                              1. I am making a Clafouti today and decided to break down and get a cherry pitter. OMG, I just pitted 3 cups of cherries in about 10 minutes. I already feel it was a worthwhile purchase.
                                A great one or two use gadget( it will also pit olives).

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lovetocookPEI

                                  Cherry season being so short, we actually use our cherry pitter more often to pit cured olives than fresh cherries. . . a great time saver!

                                2. I've heard of people using an inverted funnel for olives; I think I've tried it a time or two for cherries, with some success. Sit the cherry on top of the small end of the funnel and push down.

                                  Eventually, I just got a cherry pitter, though.

                                  1. I have 4 cherry trees out back. No pitter. I second or third using a bobby pin. You can also use a star end pastry tip. You set the tip side up on the cutting board and pop the cherries stem side down on it and push thru. Done.

                                    I half them for clafoutis. I am hopelessly lazy. I have to bend to get to the pastry drawer.

                                    1. I'm trying to make a cherry sauce, so I don't care about how many holes the cherry has. Does anyone see an issue with me just boiling the cherries in very little water till the flesh falls off, and then just straining it?

                                      1. Thanks to all for the ideas. I've opted for the beer bottle approach. I tried various pokers and found the end of one of the inserts from my hand mixer works best. I just did a few test cherries. I'm going to brandy some cherries later.

                                        I did NOT however heed the advice about being physically prepared so I have a speckled t-shirt and pinkish fingers. I'll be better prepared when I return to the task.

                                        1. If you're going to pit more than three cherries a year, do yourself a big favor and get an Oxo cherry pitter.

                                          1. The easiest way I have found is this:

                                            1. get a small funnel
                                            2. overturn it in the bottom of a ceramic mixing bowl (large opening down - small spout point up)
                                            3. remove the stem and place the cherry, stem-end down, onto inverted funnel spout
                                            4. push down and remove pit

                                            This works great; hardly leaving any flesh on the pit. If this occurs, just easily pinch the flesh off the pit and drop into the bowl with the cherries. This method also has the advantage of retaining all the juice from the cherries as you pit them.

                                            1. Pit Cherries Cleanly and Easily with a Chopstick and Bottle



                                              How to Pit a Cherry the Easy Way


                                              1. How do you make your alcohol infusion. My husband would love that