Ripe and juicy, our annual Farmers Market Challenge is ready to be picked. We’ve got plump tomatoes, sweet cherries, glossy eggplants, and much more. Head here to find all the articles and recipes.
Nothing will stop me from baking with fresh cherries—but turns out, that tiny pit inside stops plenty of people. And you know what? Whether you’re pitting with a paper clip, a chopstick, a patented cherry pitter, or your own bare hands, it is a hassle. It’s as annoying a task as: peeling apples, chopping onions, trimming green beans. Yet we do all of those with less whining. Cherry pitting is a pain—until you look at it as meditative. A part of the process. Let the world slow down a bit. Depending on what you’ve got on hand in your kitchen (and what you’re willing to purchase), you have a few options to pit cherries that’ll make that homemade cherry pie that much more satisfying.
How to pit cherries without a cherry 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 chopstick: To pit cherries with a chopstick, it’s as simple as removing the stem of a cherry, and shoving the end of the chopstick through the stem-end of the cherry, pushing the pit out. Repeat on as many as your cherry recipe calls for. It’s a little messy, and your hands will certainly be slightly cherry-stained, but there are worse things.
Paper clip: Untwist a paper clip so that it makes an “S” shape. Stick the rounded edge into the stem end of a cherry, swivel it around the pit, and pull it out. Another slightly messier technique, but it gets the job done.
Pastry tip: This is a simple one—take a pastry a.k.a. piping tip, and push the narrow, pointy end through the stem end of a cherry, encouraging out the pit.
Metal straw: Use a stainless steel metal straw to pit cherries by (once again) lining it up with the stem end of a cherry, pushing through until the pit pops out the bottom of the cherry.
Skewer: Like the previous methods, insert the point of a wooden skewer into the stem end of a cherry. Gently wiggle it down and around the pit until the pit is pried loose.
Knife: Use the flat end of a large knife to carefully flatten a cherry. The pit should slide out fairly easily, and you can pluck it out. It’s not the neatest, and you’ll definitely end up with some cherry juice on your cutting board, but it works.
Your hands: When it’s peak cherry season, you’ve got a bounty of sweet cherries that you’re enjoying fresh, and you don’t mind making a bit of a mess, pitting cherries needs no tools. Take a whole cherry, hold it by the stem in one hand, and gently squeeze out the pit with the other. This method works best when they’re optimally ripe, and you don’t mind your cherries a little squished. If you’re looking to prep cherries for smoothies, jams, or compotes and don’t mind a little clean-up, this is the most meditative method.
Just buy a cherry pitter.
If you’re baking a recipe that calls for more than six cherries, we whole-heartedly recommend a cherry pitter. It’s worth it: They’re like little guns that toss the pits into a bowl and toss your still intact, hollowed-out cherries in another. They may cause cherry juice splatter, but it washes off easily. (Wear a dang apron already.) Our favorite: OXO’s Single-Pit Pitter. While we usually aren’t a fan of kitchen gadgets that are single-use, this one is affordable, and it works well for olives, too. It’s not perfect. Sometimes the pit is off-center and you need to take a few stabs at it. But it’s fast and efficient and stores away all winter, awaiting its moment.
Calls for more than six cherries:
This sweet-and-sour pork tenderloin is quick enough for weeknights but fancy enough for company.