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How to pit cherries without a cherry pitter

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Basket of Cherries
When you are working with fresh cherries, it is necessary to remove their pits before you can safely put them into a recipe. There are traditionalists who say that you get more flavor when you cook the cherries with the pits still inside (“traditional” cherry clafouti are notorious for this), but anyone who has unexpectedly chomped down on a cherry pit in a pie or other baked good knows that cherry pits can be quite hazardous and it is best just to take them out ahead of time.

There are a wide variety of cherry pitters out there that will help you get the job of pitting cherries done smoothly and quickly. If you don’t have a cherry pitter, there are a few tools you can use to pit cherries more easily. You can us a pairing knife, but I find that pairing knives can get a bit messy and can take off too much of the flesh of the cherry along with the pits.

Pitted Cherry

I like to use a thick plastic straw or the end of a small funnel to remove cherry pits when I’m not using a pitter. Thicker plastic straws, like the reusable straws that come with insulated mugs, are usually the best choice since they are sturdier and more durable than your average plastic straw and will make the process go very smoothly. Remove the stems and press the end of the straw straight down into the cherry until it comes out of the opposite side – with the pit at the end. The advantage to using a straw over a funnel is that you can do multiple cherries with the straw, but will need to pull each cherry off before pitting the next one.

The cherries will end up with two holes in them, but you won’t see them if you’re planning to bake with the cherries. If you are planning to use the cherries for something like fruit salad, you might want to take your time with a paring knife to more carefully remove the pits to keep the cherries as pristine as possible.

Pitted Cherries

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  • Shellina
    July 23, 2013

    I just picked up a 6-at-a-time cherry pitter for $7 at wal-mart, and I’m officially in love. I final,y am feeding my kids cherries, serving them at dinner, etc, because I can do it so much quicker! Ah. Modern marvels. However, the straw trick is indeed tried and true, and doesn’t require the violence my 6-up does. 😉

  • Macy
    July 23, 2013

    This is such a good idea!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Vonetta
    July 23, 2013

    Funny, I was stocking up on baking supplies today and kept seeing cherry corers. Seems great to have but I like this straw trick, thanks!

  • This is brilliant! You could probably use this idea for taking pits out of olives too.

  • Nicole
    July 24, 2013

    Awesome idea! My kids love cherries and we eat them like they’re going out of style but when I want to bring them somewhere like the beach or drive in I hesitate because of the mess withthe pits and all! CCan’t wait to try this out!

  • Renee Fraser
    July 25, 2013

    Thank You for this post!! I have aways wondered how in the world to remove the seed without tearing it apart. How cleaver. i just bought some today will be baking something cherry this weekend!

  • chacha
    June 27, 2014

    I have used a sterilized lge paperclip but ou have to wear gloves and a little messy. Also used the back end of a wood skewer but THIS IS BRILLIANT and have some cherries to pit and found your site. IT DOES WORK WITH THE STRAW LIKE YOU SAID. Im going to try this idea with my small apricots that Im going to make preserves with. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

  • Malisha
    August 6, 2014

    I found several “cherry” trees at an Arby’s restaurant with millions of beautiful berries hanging on them. The manager says I can pick all I want, but I don’t know what kind of cherry these are! They are very hard and have 2 small seeds instead of one large pit in them. Anyone know if they are edible? Any advice? I bit into one and like I said, it was not only very hard, but very tart, not tasty at all. Is it not yet ripe in August???

  • Tamara
    July 29, 2015

    Great tip. I am going to try this technique over the weekend!

  • Ann
    September 22, 2016

    This works great for cherries but not on fresh, off the tree, uncured green olives. I’m thinking of using an inverted funnel.

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