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Every year, I look forward to cherry season. The fleeting weeks that cherries are in season means I buy pounds and pounds of them, more than I can eat by themselves. And because my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, I often have bags of cherries that I need to use before they go bad.
That’s when I scramble to make cherry recipes to use up these cherries. I end up making cherry pie, cherry cobbler, and cherry clafoutis along with adding cherries to my yogurt and breakfast cereal. And when I can’t eat any more cherries, I freeze the fruit for later use. But the biggest difficulty in using cherries in recipes and freezing them is having to pit them. And though there are hacks and ways to pit cherries without a specialized piece of equipment, if you like cherries as much as I do, it’s worth investing in a cherry pitter.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to cherry pitters. Do you want an easy-to-store handheld model, or do you need to process cherries in bulk? Or do you simply want a contraption that attaches to a jar or glass? Can it also fit smaller sour cherries, the tart ones that are better for baking than for snacking?
Whether you want an ergonomic handheld version or an affordable option, here are my picks for the best cherry pickers out there.
Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter
What We Love: Easy to clean, soft rubber grip, affordable
What We Don't Love: Hole is too small for very large pits, still a little messy from the juice
The OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter is my pick for the best overall cherry pitter. Its soft rubber grip makes it easier to grasp than other cherry pitters. This keeps hand fatigue to a minimum, which is helpful when you're processing cherries for a recipe like cherry ice cream. And the curved arc metal prong slides into the cherry easily with a smooth movement.
The open design for the cherry, with a smaller dip in the middle, means you can pit large or small cherries as well as olives, though some folks remark that the hole was a bit too small for cherries with large pits. The removable juice guard makes it easier to clean, but keep in mind, like most handheld cherry pitters, it’s not completely perfect. You never want to wear a nice white shirt while pitting cherries, as juice might squirt out, regardless of the pitter. The die-cast zinc pitter is durable and dishwasher safe and locks in a closed position for easy storage.
"I'm a huge fan of cherries, but not so much of pitting them. Though the OXO Good Grips pitter only handles one at a time, it makes processing a pound of cherries go quickly and with less mess. Just make sure to pit them over the sink since large cherries can spurt a bit, even with the juice guard." — Siobhan Wallace, Commerce Editor
Length: 5.75 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Budget: Obecome Cherry Pitter
What We Love: Very affordable, latches shut for easy storage, has a splatter shield
What We Don't Love: Harder to clean, plastic material doesn't feel super durable
The Obecome Cherry Pitter is my cherry pitter pick for those on a budget. The pitter is similar to the OXO Good Grips option, though not as comfortable or sturdy. The pitter is made of plastic, so long-term durability might be an issue. The juice guard also does not come apart, making cleaning the gadget a little more cumbersome.
All that said, the pitter is dishwasher safe, so that’s a good cleaning solution for anyone with a dishwasher, and the pitter does lock for easy storage. The inner silicone ring to help grip the cherry as you pit it is a nice touch. But the top guide above where the cherry goes is a little low, so extra large cherries might not fit or would be awkward to insert or remove. With the low price point though, this budget pitter might be a good fit for those who only need to pit store-bought cherries once or twice a season and don’t want to invest more money.
Length: 9.1 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Multiple Cherries: Locisne Cherry Pitter
What We Love: Nonskid rubber ring grips countertops, pits multiple cherries at once, easy to press down
What We Don't Love: Not dishwasher safe, not kid-friendly, doesn't feel super durable
If you’re looking to quickly pit multiple cherries for a pan sauce or olives for your side dish, the Locisne cherry pitter will pit up to six cherries, minimizing hand fatigue. Place them on a clear insert tray and close down the spring-loaded top, piercing each cherry with a prong, pitting each and every one.
The ability to pit multiple cherries means you’ll get through a batch of cherries quicker than the individual cherry pitters. But the downside means it’s slightly larger to store. The pitter does lock closed for easier storage, and the bottom of the pitter has a nonskid rubber ring to help grip the surface you place it on. But with six metal prongs going down, it’s not super kid-friendly, so keep the little ones away.
Length: 7.5 inches | Capacity: 6 cherries | Dishwasher Safe: No
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Best for Big Batches: Leifheit Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container
What We Love: Pits large batches quickly, slanted feeding mechanism, sturdy design that will last
What We Don't Love: Expensive, large, more difficult to store
If you own a cherry tree or buy large bulk amounts of cherries to makes preserves and desserts, the Leifheit Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container is the device you need. Instead of individually placing cherries into a pitter or a tray, you just place them all in a large heap on the top of this device. The slanted hopper feeds into a narrow slot where cherries line up. Press down on the punching handle, and the cherries are pitted quickly. They fall out of the chute into a bowl, and the pits fall into the clear container underneath the pitter.
The company claims that you can pit 25 pounds of cherries in an hour, though customer reviews and users say it’s closer to 15 pounds an hour. But still, processing that many cherries that quickly is significantly faster than individually placing them into a single pitter device.
Length: 12 inches | Capacity: Multiple cherries | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Small Cherries: Westmark Kernex Cherry Stoner
What We Love: Easily maneuver small cherries into the pitter, durable all-metal design, very affordable
What We Don't Love: Thin metal is hard on your hands, difficult to use for long sessions/large batches, no juice guard
This no-frills German-designed cherry pitter is made of 100 percent aluminum and is not the fanciest cherry pitter on this list. But the design features a small slot in the seat where you place the cherry. This is key since you can place your cherries in the pitter by just holding the stems and sliding them into the pitter upside down. Punch out the cherry pit while holding the stem, and then discard the pit easily.
What makes this great for small cherries is the ability to hold and place them in the pitter by the stem. No more fumbling around trying to grab ahold of small cherries! Grabbing them by the stems is easier, and the pit often stays attached to the stem, so discarding them is even easier.
Length: 6.5 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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Most Durable: Instecho Cherry Pitter Push Button for Glass Jar
What We Love: Classic easy-to-use design, durable metal pieces, easy to store
What We Don't Love: Required mason jar not included, gasket on the inside might need replacement
Almost all cherry pitters wear out after multiple uses. But the Instecho Cherry Pitter Push Button for Glass Jars is made to last. The pitter works by attaching to the top of a mason jar. You place the cherry under the metal spring, and then you press down. The spring punches the pit out of cherry and into the jar underneath it, and then you remove the cherry and repeat.
Though it sounds similar to other individual cherry pitters, unlike the squeeze kind of pitter, this push-button style is easier on the hand and won’t cause cramping. It’s also the smallest of the pitters on this list, measuring just 5-inches long. More importantly, the all-metal lid and spring mean the pitter will last a long time. The only piece you’ll have to replace is the rubber gasket that the cherry sits on. Users and reviewers say it eventually gets stretched out. But otherwise, the unit will last you through many cherry seasons.
"I have the Instecho Cherry Pitter and really love it! It's simple but effective!" — Emma Christensen, Editor in Chief
Length: 5 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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For most folks who only have to pit cherries a few times a year, the small and ergonomic OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter (view at Amazon) is the perfect device. For those who have backyard cherry trees or who regularly buy large quantities of cherries, the Leifheit Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container (view at Amazon) will mean less time pitting and more time eating!
What to Look for in a Cherry Pitter
Cherry pitters come in a variety of styles, from handheld to hopper-style to tabletop. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Handheld cherry pitters often pit one at a time. Look for ones that are easy to grip so your hand doesn’t get fatigued after pitting too many cherries, and that lock closed for easy storage.
Hopper-style pitters will have you place piles of cherries in the hopper. Once you’re ready, the cherries funnel down a slanted tunnel. You push down on the level, and it punches out the pit, and the cherry falls down into a bowl. Repeat pushing the level, and you’re processing cherries back-to-back fast. This is great for large batches of cherries, but the downside is hopper-style pitters are larger, taking up more storage space, and do cost more.
Finally, tabletop style pitters have you placing the cherry in the machine and pressing down on the top of the unit, punching down on the cherry to pit it. They are more ergonomic and don’t fatigue your hand as much as the handheld kind. And they often will pit more than one cherry at a time. But they take up more storage space, require some extra counter space to use, and are slightly more expensive than handheld pitters, though less than a hopper-style pitter.
Multi-pitter vs single pitter
The capacity of the pitter you want will depend on how often and how many cherries you pit in a season. If you only pit enough cherries for a pie or cobbler once or twice a season, an individual single pitter will most likely be fine for you. It pits cherries slower, but it also takes up way less storage space. But if you own a cherry tree, or you make cherry preserves, or just love cherries a lot and know you’ll be pitting large batches of cherries every season, a multi-pitter might make more sense and will be worth the investment in money and kitchen storage space.
Ease of cleaning
Pitting fruit will make a mess, no matter how great your device is. There will always be stray juice that squirts about, but a good cherry pitter will minimize accidents. Look at the design of the pitter and if it has juice guards in place to minimize mess. Also, check to see how easy the pitter comes apart for clean-up after the pitting session and if it is dishwasher safe.
Are cherry pits toxic to humans?
You may have heard that cherry pits have cyanide in them, which is a dangerous toxin. And that’s true. But it’s a little more complicated than that. The seeds of a cherry, like all summer stone fruit, contain an internal kernel on the inside. And when that kernel is exposed to the plant’s enzyme (which happens when you crack open the seed) the kernel forms cyanide.
What does this mean? If an adult were to accidentally swallow one cherry pit by itself, most likely it will pass through the body intact. But if an adult were to chew on one pit and break it open when swallowing the pit, the kernel will be exposed, and that cyanide is ingested. But fear not! Someone would have to ingest seven to nine cherry pit kernels to actually be poisoned. Most adult bodies are able to handle and process the cyanide in small amounts without any issues. Morello cherries have more cyanide in them, but someone would still have to swallow 3 or 4 cracked pits to be in any real danger.
Of course, cherry pits can pose a choking hazard, so avoiding swallowing them is probably a good idea. Young children have smaller bodies, so they are more susceptible to cyanide poisoning. So definitely teach your kids to spit out the cherry pits as well as other stone fruit seeds. Or just use a cherry pitter to serve them pit-free cherries.
Can you use a cherry pitter for other tasks?
Cherry pitters seem like a bit of a unitasker, something you use in the summertime for one fruit and then put away for the rest of the year. But if you are a fan of olives, which are conveniently jarred and available all year, you can use the cherry pitter to pit the olives. Some cherry pitters work better at pitting olives than others. And some cherry pitters require you to place the olives in a certain direction for optimum pitting, so experiment a bit with the pitter that you own to make sure it will work for olives.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This article is written by Irvin Lin, a cookbook author of "Marbled, Swirled, and Layered" and an ongoing contributor to Simply Recipes. He runs his own blog Eat the Love, is a professional recipe developer, and an enthusiastic stone fruit and cherry fanatic. He’s cooked and baked with cherries for nearly all his life. For this article, he consulted various websites and articles, looked at numerous product reviews, and talked with cherry tree owners about their favorite cherry pitters.
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