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Jun 11, 2008 11:21 AM

Pitting cherries without a pitter?

Do I need a cherry pitter or is a cherry pitter a unitasker tool?

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  1. A cherry pitter is one of those annoying one task tools that clutter up the utensil drawer, but I adore ours. If you ever make cherry jam, ice cream, clafouti, sauce, or anything with more than about 10 cherries, you should own one.

    If you are patient, you can pit them by cutting all the way around the pit with a paring knife, pulling cherry in half, and removing the pit. OR, if you don't care if they get mashed, smash them with a meat pounder (or whatever) and remove the pit - just as you would do olives.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Junie D

      I would also like to add that the quality of the cherry pitter matters a lot. I had a junky one for years, and it mangled the cherries, was awkward to use, and left me hacking the flesh off the cherries with a small knife, cursing and grumbling all the while. Last summer though, I returned a gift to Crate & Barrel that turned to be the exact same price as a cherry pitter - around twelve bucks, if I remember correctly. This is more that I'd ordinary spend for such an item, but it was an even-Steven trade, so I splurged.

      The new cherry pitter was a revelation - well-designed and a joy to use. It felt like I had graduated from a Yugo to a BMW. The old cherry pitter went right into the garbage and all summer last year I kept buying cherries so I could have the opportunity to make things using my new cherry pitter.

      It's true - a cherry pitter is not only a one-task but a one-season tool. Nevertheless, it really doesn't take up that much room and I am thrilled to own mine, and looking forward to pitting many cherries this summer.

      1. re: Pumpkinseed

        Great point. The object of my affection is a Westmark - German "kirchentkerner". I keep it in the original box, which is marked $8.99.


      2. re: Junie D

        After trying a pitter and a knife, I found on Sunday that using my fingers was easiest and fastest. I ended up with 14 cups of pitted cherries and little waste, holding the cherry in one hand and plucking the pit with forefinger and thimb of the other. And these were pie cherries (maybe Montmorency), not big Bings.

        1. re: TNExplorer

          Amen, sister or brother! I have a sour cherry tree, and I've tried picks, potato nails, knives and everything else pointy until I realized since they were going to be cooked anyway appearance wasn't the #1 priority. It's a bit messy, but so are all the other methods.

      3. Use a chopstick. Simple, easy. Just push it through and the pit pops out.

        3 Replies
        1. re: JoanN

          Chopstick yes, but preceded by a quick penetration on both entrance and exit point using a 16 penny nail. It's like "pilot drilling" the path of the pit.

          The nails are kept bundled with a rubber band, 16 of them, for poking into baked taters at both poles... yields 8 taters at a quicker pace.

          1. re: FoodFuser

            Uh, just wondering . .. why do have the need to poke a baked potato w/ a nail?

            1. re: NYchowcook

              A nail inserted into each pole of a large potato, with an inch still sticking out, conducts heat into the center and helps it bake faster.

        2. You can also somewhat unfold a paper clip and use the curved end of that to pit cherries. Works great and almost everyone has paper clips around.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jackie de

            I'm liking this one! The chopstick suggestion is great, too, but I don't think I have any right now.

            1. re: jackie de

              "jackie de" is right!! However, I use a regular old fashioned hairpin (not bobbie pin). With either, the curved part wraps around the pit and pulls it out at the top point of entry. In this way you don't loose as much of the juice and the cherry keeps its form...without mutilating...leaving the cherry pretty much intact without looking like you squashed it with a brick!!!

              1. re: jackie de

                No need to unfold. Just use the double-semicircle end of a small clip.

              2. A few more ideas from last year ...

                "hammering a (clean) nail into a (likewise clean) board so that the point sticks up, then pushing the cherry down on the point until the pit pops out."

                "using the business end of a metal pastry bag tip"

                I agree that if getting a cherry pitter to get a good one. Can a cherry pitter also pit olives?

                1 Reply
                1. re: rworange

                  It can pit olives but since olives are usually more stuck to the pit, isn't perfect. I prefer to smash the olives anyway.

                  Love the nail in the board idea. Simple and brilliant.

                2. I pitted 14 cups of cherries (once the pits were gone) on Sunday, using my fingers. It was a lot faster than either a pitter or a knife -- and I tried both first. I held the cherry (the sour pie kind) with my my left hand and plucked out the pit using forefinger and thumb of my right. My goal was cherries for jam and pie, so a neat little hole from a pitter wasn't necessary. There was surprisingly little waste with this method.