Includes detachable splatter shield to prevent juice from making a mess. No-slip grip that's comfortable. Good materials used in build quality. Folds up securely for storage.
Struggles with pitting olives. Takes some hand strength to use successfully.
Can take tool completely apart for use in dishwasher. Pitter can hold 6 cherries at one time. Shield and base prevent splatter from juice. Saves time when attempting to pit a large bag of cherries.
Takes a lot of force to use. Pits don't always fully pop out of cherries.
Performs well with successful pitting nearly every time. Can be placed in a dishwasher for cleaning. Will lock into closed position for easy storage. Can also pit olives. Multiple colors available.
Works better with smaller and medium-sized cherries than with larger ones.
Pitter has a non-skid base to prevent slippage. Will help you work through many cherries quickly. Folds down for easy storage. Collection area prevents juices from splattering and staining your kitchen and clothing.
Larger unit than some other pitters. May not fully remove some pits.
Who doesn’t love fresh cherries? The glossy color. The chubby shape. Fresh cherry pie. Cherry vanilla ice cream. You can eat fresh, sweet cherries without pitting them, of course, but you must carefully bite around the pit. You can cut each cherry open with a knife and remove the pit, but that can soon turn into a sticky, messy process. If you want to enjoy a few (or many) fresh cherries – and you don’t want to spend all your time removing pits – you need a cherry pitter.
It seems like a simple task, but there is a surprising assortment of tools designed to remove the pits from cherries. How do you choose the right one for you? We at BestReviews can help. We aim to make your shopping experience easier so you can get on with doing what you really want to do – eat fresh, pitted cherries.
Cherry trees belong to the genus Prunus, along with peaches, plums, apricots, and almonds, all of which are in the rose family. The cherry is a stone fruit, also called a “drupe.” You’ll find the fruit in the familiar cherry-red color, of course, but there are also white-fleshed cherries, as well as cherries with dark red, yellow, and purplish-black skin. Cherries are ripe from late spring through summer. There are three main types of cherries: sweet, sour, and wild.
These are the cherries you eat fresh in the summertime. Worldwide, there are some 900 varieties of sweet cherry, with the juicy red Bing or blush-tinged gold Rainier probably the most familiar in the U.S. Most of the sweet cherry production in this country is concentrated in California, Oregon, and Washington. Sweet cherries are rich in antioxidants (anthocyanins), vitamin C, potassium, copper, and manganese. They are also higher in fiber and sugar than sour cherries.
There are about 300 varieties of sour cherry, but nearly all commercial pie fillings are Montmorency cherries, grown in Wisconsin, Michigan, Utah, New York, Pennsylvania, France, and elsewhere. Sour cherries can withstand harsher climates than sweet cherries. These cherries are not often eaten raw but mostly canned or cooked – with lots of sweetener – or otherwise prepared. Montmorency cherries are rich in antioxidants (anthocyanins), vitamin C, potassium, copper, and manganese. They have more vitamin A and less fiber than sweet cherries.
These cherries are smaller, less fleshy, and more astringent than sweet or sour cherries. Like foraging for wild mushrooms, you must be very careful – and knowledgeable – when picking wild cherries. Some edible varieties have pits, twigs, and bark that are toxic.
Why use a cherry pitter?
Using a knife to cut around the circumference of a cherry and remove the pit is a time-consuming and messy chore if you’re doing more than a few. Plus, it isn’t easy to remove the pits with a knife and still end up with whole cherries, a concern if you want to use them as decorative elements on a dessert. A cherry pitter simplifies and speeds up the task.
Many of today’s cherry pitters would look familiar to Paul D. Cook, who patented the first one in 1923. They resemble a cross between a small pair of tongs and a hole punch. The simplest pitters can be used with one hand and have a spoon-like bowl on the lower arm with a hole in the center, and a downward-facing blade or punch on the upper arm, centered over the bowl. Set a cherry in the bowl and press the two arms together. The punch passes through the cherry, pushing the pit out the bottom and through the hole in the bowl.
Since 1923, there have been many attempts to improve on Cook’s uncomplicated design – and the results have been mixed. There are cherry pitters that work like a syringe, some with a screw mechanism resembling a nutcracker, some that look like a child’s plastic toy gun, some that look like a stapler, and some that look like an old-fashioned meat grinder.
Despite all the innovations, there are really only two types of cherry pitter: handheld and countertop.
Handheld cherry pitters
Most of these tools look much like Cook’s original, with variations. These pit one cherry at a time. Some are plastic; others are metal (usually zinc alloy). Variations include a deeper bowl for the cherry, ergonomic design, and a splash guard. There are also “push-button” pitters with a spring-loaded piston that you press to push the pit out of the cherry.
Countertop cherry pitters
Most of these tools are designed to deal with more than one cherry at a time, either pitting two to six cherries at a time or by automatically feeding each cherry from a hopper into position to be pitted.
Multiple cherries: Some countertop models have several blades in the underside of the lid and indentations in the base for two to six cherries. You press down on the lid to pit the cherries, and the pits fall into an attached receptacle below.
Hopper: Countertop models speed up the cherry-positioning process, but you are still pitting one cherry at a time. You put the cherries in an attached hopper that automatically feeds each cherry down a slanted chute to the right position, and you pit it by pushing on a spring-loaded piston or lever or turning a crank. The crank-operated pitters tend to smash the fruit, so they aren’t a good option if you care what your pitted cherries look like. Also, some are sized more for smaller sour cherries rather than large sweet Bings.
Precision: You want a cherry pitter that doesn’t macerate or squash your cherries – that would defeat the purpose. You want whole, pitted cherries, not wasted fruit.
Number: How many cherries do you want to pit at a time? Handheld pitters and most countertop models pit one at a time. It’s also true that some countertop pitters can do up to six at once, but you still have to put those six cherries into position.
Durability: Cherry pitters of all types are either plastic (except for the punch or blade) or non-corrosive metal (usually zinc alloy) or a combination of the two. A metal cherry pitter is not necessarily a more durable cherry pitter. There are plenty of happy customers who swear by their plastic cherry pitters.
Splatter guard: Getting your good clothes covered in cherry juice is the pits. Even if the manufacturer says the device won’t splash, it probably will. You might want to choose a model with some type of splash guard to help keep the juice contained.
Handheld or countertop: Handheld cherry pitters are lighter and usually pit one cherry at a time. Look for one that’s comfortable and easy to hold if you need to work your way through several quarts of cherries. If you prefer to pit several cherries at once, a countertop model might be a better choice.
Cherry size: Many pitters can handle large Bing cherries, while some are better suited to smaller sour cherries. If there’s a particular type of cherry you eat most often, fit the pitter to the fruit.
Versatility: Some pitters say they pit olives or other fruit, too. Read customer reviews to see if the pitters live up to the promises.
Lock: Most handheld pitters lock for storage, much the way the arms of tongs lock together so they won’t get tangled with other implements in the drawer.
Cleanup: Whether plastic or metal, you want a pitter that won’t get stained by cherry juice. Some pitters disassemble for easy cleaning. Some can go right in the dishwasher, while others must be hand-washed.
Efficiency: Not every pitter gets 100% of the pits on the first try, but you don’t want to have to search every cherry for the pit, either. Read customer reviews to see how efficient your chosen pitter is.
Extras: Some manufacturers include a book of cherry recipes with the pitter, although there are more recipes than you could make in a lifetime online.
Warranty: Many cherry pitters come with a warranty. Some manufacturers offer a 90-day money-back guarantee, while others let you return a broken device within 120 days. Some warranties are for two years, and others are for a lifetime – the seller will replace the pitter, no questions asked, if it should break. And you don’t have to spend a lot to get a warranty. Even some of the least-expensive pitters are guaranteed.
Prices vary widely for cherry pitters, from $8 to $190, and in this case, spending more money won’t necessarily get you a better, more efficient, longer-lasting product. Many consumers are thrilled with their $8 cherry pitters, while others rue the day they spent many times that on a contraption that didn’t work as promised. Depending on how you feel about all the bells and whistles, there is no reason to spend more than $15 for a cherry pitter that works and will last you for many summers to come. And it will probably even have a lifetime warranty.
Handheld cherry pitters range in price from $8 to $13.
Countertop cherry pitters range from $11 to $190.
Freeze large quantities of cherries. Stock up in spring and summer when cherries are in season, and rinse, pit, and freeze them for use in the fall and winter.
Wear an apron or old shirt when you pit cherries. Even if your cherry pitter has a splash guard, some of the juice could end up on your clothes, and you’ll certainly get it on your hands. Lemon juice helps remove cherry juice stains from hands, while white vinegar helps remove stains from fabric.
Improvise if need be. In a pinch, you can use an unfolded paper clip, chopstick, or pastry tip to push out cherry pits.
Q. Can I use a cherry pitter for other fruits?
A. Most pitters don’t open wide enough to accommodate larger fruits, although there are some that indicate they can be used for kumquats, apricots, or olives, and some say only black olives, not the harder green ones. Cherry pitter manufacturers don’t recommend trying to core fruit like strawberries with a cherry pitter – the strawberries are too soft and will just get mashed.
Q. Which is better: a countertop cherry pitter or a handheld model?
A. Both types work fine. Your choice depends on a number of factors. Handheld cherry pitters are lighter, but you have to position each cherry and pit them one at a time. Look for a handheld pitter with an ergonomic design that’s comfortable and easy to hold if you need to work your way through several quarts of cherries. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or lack grip strength for some other reason, you might prefer to pit several cherries at once with a countertop model you can crank or press with the heel of your hand. Make sure the countertop pitter has a non-skid base (if it doesn’t clamp to the counter).
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