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Two Methods: Twist or Poke
There are two different but equally easy ways to pit cherries without a cherry pitter: the twist method and the poke method. You can use different tools to do each one, as discussed under each technique.
Choose fresh, ripe cherries. Rinse them with cool water, pat them dry, and remove their stems.
Note: If you have a lot of cherries, this is a good activity to do with a partner or two. If you're alone, settle in. This will take awhile. Listen to the radio, talk on a headset, watch television,... or enjoy the meditative nature of a quiet, repetitive task.Continue to 2 of 4 below.
02 of 04
The Twist Method for Pitting Cherries
Use a toothpick, un-bent paper clip, hair pin, or a metal orange stick (as for manicures). Insert whichever tool* you choose into the stem end of the cherry. You should feel it hit the pit.
Twist your implement of choice around the pit and pop it out. It will take you a few cherries to get the feel of it. Be patient, experiment a bit for the twisting motion that works best for you, and don't worry about the mangled mess those first few cherries may become—they'll still taste just as good.
N...ote the cherries are juicy and that juice stains. A cutting mat set over your cutting board saves tons of time on clean up since you can just throw it in the dishwasher.
* One reader (Diane from Vinalhaven, Maine) wrote in saying her family used a lobster/crab picking tool—the kind with a small scoop on the end of a stick—to great effect. Another reader (Erica) used an old-fashioned potato peeler, going down one side of the pit then the other. Pointed tweezers are also a decent option.Continue to 3 of 4 below.
03 of 04
The Poke Method for Pitting Cherries
Of course, you're doing some poking with the twist method, but when you see how this one works you'll see why it's named this.
Insert a pastry tip, straw, or chopstick into the stem end of a cherry and push it through. In a perfect world, the tip or straw hit the pits and pushes it out the other side as pictured above.
A thinner pastry tip works best, even though you need to pay a bit more attention and actually hit the pit on your way through since more foolproof thicker tips, straws,... and chopsticks end up taking a fair amount of fruit along with the pit.Continue to 4 of 4 below.
04 of 04
Discard the pit and repeat with remaining fruit until done.
Why have you gone to this hassle? Perhaps you want to use cherries in a baked good, throw them into smoothies, makes Brandied Cherries or Pickled Cherries, or serve them any way other than out-of-hand.
You may also want to pit them when you're lucky enough to simply have too many cherries to use in a timely manner so you can freeze them.