How to pit cherries with or without a pitter


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Nothing will stop me from cooking with fresh cherries, but it turns out that little pit inside stops a lot of people. And you know what? Whether you’re pitting with a paper clip, chopstick, patented cherry pitter, or your own bare hands, it’s a problem. It’s as boring a task as: peeling apples, chopping onions, trimming green beans. Yet we do all of this with less whining. Cherry sting is a pain – until you consider it meditative. Part of the process. Let the world slow down a bit. Depending on what you have on hand in your kitchen (and what you’re willing to buy), you have a few options for pitting cherries that will make this homemade cherry pie even more satisfying.

How to pit cherries without a pitter:

If you don’t have a cherry pitter, chances are you have at least one, if not a few, of these makeshift tools at your disposal.

Use a wand: Pitting cherries with a chopstick is as simple as removing the stem from a cherry and pushing the end of the chopstick through the end of the cherry stem, pushing the pit upward. ‘outside. Repeat as many times as your cherry recipe calls for. It’s a little messy, and your hands will definitely get a little cherry stain, but there’s worse.

Trombone: Unscrew a paper clip so that it forms an “S”. Stick the rounded edge into the stem end of a cherry, twist it around the pit, and pull it out. Another slightly more complicated technique, but it does the job.

Baking tip: It’s simple – take a pastry nozzle and push the narrow, pointed end through the stem end of a cherry, encouraging the pit to come out.

Metal Straw: Use a stainless steel straw to pit the cherries by lining it up (again) with the stem end of a cherry, pushing until the pit pops out of the bottom of the cherry.

Skewer: Like the previous methods, insert the tip of a wooden skewer into the stem end of a cherry. Gently wiggle it down and around the pit until the pit is clear.

Knife: Use the flat end of a large knife to carefully flatten a cherry. The pit should slide out fairly easily and you can pull it out. It’s not the neatest, and you’ll definitely end up with cherry juice on your cutting board, but it works.

Your hands: When it’s peak cherry season, you have an abundance of sweet cherries that you enjoy fresh, and you don’t mind making a bit of a mess, pitted cherries don’t need tools. Take a whole cherry, hold it by the stem in one hand and gently squeeze the pit with the other. This method works best when they are optimally ripe and you don’t mind your cherries being a bit squashed. If you’re looking to make cherries for smoothies, jams, or compotes and don’t mind a bit of cleanup, this is the most meditative method.

Just buy a cherry pitter.

If you’re making a recipe that calls for more than six cherries, we wholeheartedly recommend a cherry pitter. It’s worth it: they’re like little guns that throw the pits in one bowl and throw your cherries still intact and cored in another. They may cause cherry juice to splatter, but it washes off easily. (Wear a dang apron already.) Our favorite: OXO’s single pit pitter. While we’re not usually fans of single-use kitchen gadgets, this one is affordable and works well for olives, too. It’s not perfect. Sometimes the pit is off center and you need to stab it a few times. But it’s fast and efficient and stows away all winter, waiting for its moment.

Asks for more than six cherries:

Plate of pork and cherries on a green tablecloth.
Pork tenderloin with Agrodolce cherries

This sweet and sour pork tenderloin is quick enough for weeknights but refined enough to accompany.

See the recipe


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