Learn how to pit cherries without a pitter, using a simple method taught to us by a cherry grower. This method works best for tart cherries or very ripe sweet cherries. If you have firm cherries, we have options for those, too.
How to Pit Cherries Without a Cherry Pitter – Easy and Fast
We live in northeast Wisconsin, just minutes away from the Door County peninsula. Door County is one of the biggest tart cherry producing areas in the United States – perfect for cherry pie. They have a number of pick your own orchards.
The first year we went cherry picking, we had my mom and nephew with us. We picked two five gallon buckets of them. As we were paying the bill, the orchard owner asked how we were going to pit them.
Never having picked before, we had no idea how to remove the pits. (Worry about it later, right?) She leaned in close, and told us she would share the secret of the world's cheapest cherry pitter.
Then she grabbed a paper clip and proceeded to demonstrate how to quickly and easily pit a big pile of cherries. We've used the method ever since for the bulk of the cherries we process.
First, unfold the paper clip, then stuff it in the stem end of the cherry, and scoop out the pit. Many people use a hair pin in the same way, but make sure you use an older pin. Today's hair pins are often made quite cheaply, and the coating comes off in the cherries.
How to Pit Cherries – More Options for Firm Cherries
There are several other common kitchen items you can use to remove the pits for your favorite cherry recipe, including:
- drinking straws
- pastry tip
- knife and cutting board
To use a chopstick, reusable drinking straw or pastry tip:
Remove the stem of the cherry. Poke the chopstick (or straw, etc.) in from the stem end and push the pit out the bottom of the cherry.
If your fruit is very firm, it can help to cut an “x” shape in the bottom to make it easier to push the pit out. Some people like to place the cherries on top of an empty bottle, and push the pits into the bottle.
When selecting your chopstick, choose one with a wider end, not a point. The pointy chopsticks tend to slide around the pit.
Reusable straws work better than disposable ones, because they are strong enough to push the pit through without bending. They do build up cherry mush inside over time.
Using a knife and a cutting board – this is a good option when you need pretty fruit halves for decoration. It tends to be a little slower than the other methods. Simply slide the knife in a circle around the pit, pry the fruit apart, and pull the pit out.
(Note – cherries are great with no bake cheesecake.)
Commercial Cherry Pitters
I hope you've found the tips for how to pit cherries without a cherry pitter useful. If you'd like to have a commercial pitter available, these are the ones we've tried.
The jar top cherry pitter – this one is fun and easy for the kids.
The scissor type cherry pitter – this works, but your hand starts to cramp after a while. It also likes to squirt juice.
My friend, Laura, who lives in the heart of Michigan cherry country, recommends the Leifheit 37200 Cherrymat Cherrystone Remover. It's a plunger type with a bin below to catch the pits.
P.S. Yes, this is the real color of the tart cherries as they come off the tree. A couple of friends asked when I posted pictures. 🙂
More Food Preservation Tips
We have dozens of canning and preserving guides on the site to help you preserve the harvest.
Originally published in 2014, last updated in 2021.