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Hacking a Cherry Pitter

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Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. Today, we're showing you how to pit cherries without a cherry pitter. 

Cherry Pitting Hack

It's cherry season! Time for cherry pie, a clafoutis, or a few boozy sour cherries garnishing a cocktail. All of those things are great if you happen to have a cherry pitter but if you don't, you're in for a bit of work that results in stained hands.

Sure, a pitter is an easy accessory to pick up but not everyone likes to buy single-purpose kitchen tools. And why bother when you can easily hack one? Today we're sharing an easy and gadget-free way to hack a cherry pitter. If you've got an empty beer bottle and a chop stick, you can pit a cherry. 

Pitting a Cherry 2 

All you need is an empty bottle with a small mouth. A beer bottle is perfect -- we're just using this little cutie because, well, it's cute. 

Pitting Cherries 3

Gently hold the cherry and press the chop stick through it to push the pit out the other side. 

Pitting Cherries 4


Pitting Cherries 5

The bottle collects the pits, keeping the whole process nice and neat. 

Pitting Cherries 6

And there you have it. Who needs a cherry pitter anyway? 

If you've got any other gadget-free tricks for pitting cherries, share them with us in the comments! 

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: Kitchen Confidence, how-to, hacks, cherries, cherry pitter, pitting cherries, how-to & diy

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Comments (34)


3 months ago jpriddy

A cherry pitter is one of very few gadgets I have. What you have made is a tidy cherry pitter—yes, it's cute and clean. So is mine.


about 1 year ago Toni Kervina

Tried this with a kombucha growler, whose opening was apparently too big. Ended up with a cherry stuck in a bottle, pit and all. Whoops.


about 1 year ago bookjunky

That's brilliant. I have a terrific cherry pitter but I love this idea. Have to file this away for future reference.


about 1 year ago Nancy Handler

My husband and I usually pick, pit, and freeze about 20 pounds of sour cherries on the first day the season opens ... and of course make a pie. It's a marathon. We've found that using a pencil with the eraser removed does a good job on removing the pits, the metal band and the cherry pits' pointy little butts are a good match. Haven't tried doing this over a bottle but it makes good sense to make the mess a little less.


almost 2 years ago cookycat

Every year my mother made sour cherry jam and froze cherries for pie. She and my father would pick the cherries and my cousin and I would pit the cherries. She paid us a nickel for every hundred cherries we pitted.


about 3 years ago virgieandhats

In my family we always use hairpins (not bobby pins, but the thinner, more flexible hairpins that you use to secure your bun). You kind of hold it in your hand between the thumb and middle finger, with the index finger between the two prongs of the pin. Put the loop this forms through the stem end, hook the pit, and pull it out all neat-like. Works great on pie cherries, which we freeze by the bucketful!


about 3 years ago Michele Hays

Another, quicker method - for fast pitting if you don't care about a bit of mess or the looks of your final result, put your cherries on a cookie sheet and squash them with a heavy skillet until you can feel the resistance of the pits. Pick up the skillet and pick the pits out. You'll wind up with slightly squashed halved cherries (works on olives, too.)


about 3 years ago Michele Hays

I'll third the paper-clip method: works on any tiny stone, including olives. Here's how: unbend the paper clip until it looks like a flat S. Insert the curve of whichever side is sized appropriately into the area near the stem. Push it past the pit (a little more than halfway into the cherry or olive,) twist it so you "catch" the pit in the curve of your safety pin, and pull the pit up through the hole in the stem.

My son, at age eight, could pit a quart of cherries in about a half an hour this way. (I'm a wee bit faster.)


about 3 years ago zindc

Sour cherries are much smaller in diameter than the sweet cherries pictured, and would probably get pushed down into a beer bottle by the force of pressing the chopstick. As long as you have to pit each cherry individually, the paper clip method works as well as anything. But when you are pitting large quantities of cherries--like I do every year to make preserves, investing in a less labor-intensive tool makes sense. I bought a [url="http://www.chefscatalog..."]Leifheit cherry pitter[/url], and though you have to eyeball each cherry to make certain the pit wasn't retained, which happens regularly, it does save considerable time. A pitter that does four cherries simultaneously does sound intriguing.


about 3 years ago jtrueblood

Great idea! Also fun to read about all the innovative ways people have devised for doing this task. I used to smash cherries with the side of a knife to get the pits out, kind of like smashing garlic to get the skins off. It worked well, but I ended up with cherry juice stains everywhere. I have a cherry pitter now, which does 4 cherries @ once. I do love it, even though I use it only once a year.


about 3 years ago Pmudpies

Love this idea! Thanks.


about 3 years ago magdance

I find it easy to pit sour cherries by hand, and they leave no stain. It takes about one news broadcast to pit three pounds.


about 3 years ago kiki-bee

I have a surplus not only of cherries, but of empty beer bottles and chopsticks as well. Perfection. No more spending hours pitting cherries for jam by hand...


about 3 years ago isabelita



about 3 years ago reddragon

What's a three pronged potato fork?


about 3 years ago Aliwaks

I actually do have a cherry pitter but it doesn't work well with sour cherries or these kind of amazing cherries I've been getting at our farm stand called "pie cherries" they taste like pie, they are samll and pretty soft...have a quart at home I've been eyeing trying to figure out the best way to pit them so they were still pretty (they are goregeous they look just like cherryhead sour candies) trogolodyte that I am I often resot to either squishing them under my knife or squeezing teh pit out with my fingers... the chopstick method seems much more gentile, and I do have a cute little bottle that once held anchovies.


about 3 years ago somewine

Well, OK then. The simplest ideas are the bestest! And, of course, I read this after spending ten minutes staining my hands, wasting cherry flesh and generally being frustrated about not having a cherry pitter preparing cereal this morning. I need to read my email earlier...


about 3 years ago Rose Levy Beranbaum

What a great idea for sweet cherries. For sour cherries, which are much softer, I use a large hairpin stuck into a champagne cork which fits into the palm of my hand. The looped end of the hairpin gets inserted into the stem end of the cherry and lifts out the pit, maintaining the shape of the cherry. I don't like cherry pitters as they tend to mash the cherries and sometimes pass through pits which are smaller--a real danger. Love the idea of filling the sweet cherries with chocolate. I sometimes fill the sour cherries with red currants and make a "churrant" pie! More sugar is needed as currants are even more tart than sour cherries. This keeps the plump shape of the cherry after baking and gives an extra burst of juicy flavor.


about 3 years ago Coffeecat

When I first saw the photo I thought you were using a cinnamon stick, not a chopstick. I like the flavor possibilities of a cinnamon stick and besides, my jar of bark has been laying around long enough!


about 3 years ago Margaret McCormick

I pit cherries using a drinking straw -- a tip shared with me by a cherry grower at our farmers market. But a chopstick is a great idea, too. Happy cherry season!


about 3 years ago Lucia from Madison

I may be nuts but the first thing I thought of when I saw the small hole that is left is why not fill it with chocolate! You have to agree that it would be pretty tasty! It would be the reverse of a Chocolate Covered Cherry! SCORE!


about 3 years ago David Mellish

Ok both the pitting and chocolate are Brilliant!


about 3 years ago sarabclever

I've heard that an opened-up paper clip is the fastest way to go, and leaves the cherries most prettily intact. I haven't had the nerve to try it, or maybe I just lack the get-up-and-go since I do have a cherry pitter already. But it's a neat idea (as is this)!


about 3 years ago Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

Love the bottle idea! A star-shaped cake decorating tip also works well.


about 3 years ago lauren

a three-pronged potato fork also works beautifully. in fact, i thought that was our cherry pitter growing up. stick the fork in, give it a twist, and out pops the pit!


about 3 years ago Beautiful, Memorable Food

Love it!


about 3 years ago Shalini

This actually looks more fun than the cherry pitter!


about 3 years ago Wild Yeast



about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

How have I never-...oh my goodness...well...I sure could have used this yesterday! :)


about 3 years ago Kristy Mucci

Kristy is an expert at making things pretty and a former Associate Editor of Food52.

: ) !!!


about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

What a great idea, I have so many one purpose gadgets I just couldn't bring myself to purchase a cherry pitter. This I will definitely try.


about 3 years ago Vid mom

is that a beer bottle? or just a cute little glass bottle that I need to have?


about 3 years ago threefresheggs

Ha! Having to get the little bottle *is* probably more expensive than a cherry-pitter! Mine cost four bucks, is one of the few 'single-use' items I have in my NYC kitchen, does olives too, and is totally worth the 8 sq inches it takes up in my drawer. Not that I don't like clever, I'm just sayin'...


about 3 years ago singing_baker

Amazing idea! spent an hour last week pitting sour cherries for a pie. Never again!