How to Pit Cherry

How to Pit Cherry

How to Make the Ultimate Cherry Pie

How to Pit Cherry

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

With all due respect to my once-smoldering passion for Fox Mulder, following a Twin Peaks marathon a few years back, Dale Cooper shot to the top of my most-wanted list. Sure, both FBI investigators are earnest, intuitive, and wickedly handsome in a two-piece suit, but Agent Cooper is clearly a man after my own heart. The kind of guy to introduce himself at the local mom ‘n pop and settle down for a thick slice of cherry pie.

Forget the Black Lodge; the real mystery of Twin Peaks was how the hell everyone made such consistently killer cherry pie. More often than not, fresh fruit pies in the real world are a soggy mess. Tasty, perhaps, but best served with a spoon. Happily, a picture-perfect slice of «damn good» cherry pie is more science than fiction. So, how do we make a cherry pie that’s juicy but not runny, thick but not gloppy, and (most important) worthy of Dale Cooper’s praise?

Luckily, cherries themselves are wonderfully predictable. Some taste better than others, to be sure, but whether fresh or frozen, sweet or sour, juicy and plump from the farmers market or withered as they linger in stores, cherries are just colorful bags of mostly water.

How to Pit Cherry

A little more than 80%, if you want to be precise. That means we don’t have to guess how much liquid they’ll give up—we know. Suddenly, the amount of starch our pie needs is a constant, not a variable: a fixed percentage of the pitted cherries by weight.

Of course, the precise amount depends on the thickening power of any given starch, so, for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to focus on my favorite: tapioca. I’m not talking about pearls or quick-cooking granules, but the fully powdered starch. It’s widely available, easy to use, and well suited to the acidity of cherries; peaches, blueberries, and huckleberries (perhaps Dale Cooper’s second-favorite pie), too.

Tapioca starch can also thicken cherry pie filling at a concentration of only 5.5%, so we don’t need very much—a real victory for those of us who despise starchy pies. Combined with fruit juice, tapioca forms a translucent gel that feels silky and light, so you never have to deal with cloudy or gloppy filling. In my testing, this concentration worked with sweet, sour, or even frozen cherries.

How to Pit Cherry

Under normal conditions, tapioca starch begins to gelatinize around 140°F, and it can break down at temperatures as low as 190°F. That makes it lousy in savory applications, where it loses all its power in simmering stews and sauces. But those rules fly out the window when it comes to cherry pie, which behaves more like a candy than a sauce.

Whether you’re making chewy caramel or gooey marshmallow fluff, the boiling point of any syrup (including cherry pie filling) is governed by sugar. The more sugar, the higher the boiling point.

Here’s where things get crazy: Sugar effectively raises the gelatinization temperature of starch by altering the thermodynamic behavior of water itself so that it requires more energy (i.e., a higher cooking temperature) before it can penetrate a granule of starch. In short, sugar enables a fragile starch like tapioca to perform supernatural feats, even in a bubbling-hot pie.

How to Pit Cherry

But only at the right concentration! Too little sugar (less than 15% of the cherries by weight) and the water will behave more or less as usual, allowing the tapioca to break down long before the crust has a chance to bake through and through. Too much sugar (over 35%) and the water won’t be able to penetrate the starch until it’s cooked well beyond the temperature of any normal pie.

In my experience, the ideal concentration of sugar is about 25%, enough to delay gelatinization so the tapioca-thickened filling and dough bake at the same rate. That’s a vital consideration if you want the bottom crust to turn out flaky, crisp, and brown. (A soggy bottom crust is a sure sign that something’s gone awry.)

By adding sugar to taste, as if it were merely a sweetener and nothing more, we leave our success to chance. While there’s no denying the romance of recipes that call for a handful of this and a handful of that, we’ve all seen enough soupy pies and goopy fillings to know that the odds aren’t good. But if we accept sugar as a fixed percentage of our fruit by weight, all risk of failure is removed.

With that revelation, the ultimate cherry pie is no Lynchian mystery. It’s a simple fact of life.

How to Pit Cherry

So, if we’re adding sugar as a fixed percentage by weight, not by taste, how does that account for cherry varieties that might be sweeter or more sour than others? I use a couple of methods to adjust sweetness in my pie. The filling can be doctored to taste with lemon juice and salt—I use a heavy hand with both; most fruit pies are criminally under-seasoned—and both will help bring balance and complexity to the filling. If you’re dealing with extremely dark cherries, which are particularly sweet, I highly recommend giving lightly toasted sugar a try.

Baked for just an hour or two at 300°F, sugar undergoes some low-level caramelization that will dramatically reduce its sweetness without adding any overt caramel flavor at all (its color should still be pale ivory). If anything, toasted sugar helps coax out the almond-y notes inherent to cherries, adding a bit more complexity to the pie. On that note, don’t toss out those pits! Steeped with a little cream, they’re a pitch-perfect (or should I say pit-perfect?) complement to your pie in the form of Cherry Pit Whipped Cream.

How to Pit Cherry

So pour yourself a cup of strong coffee, black as midnight on a moonless night, and prepare to settle down with a damn fine slice of cherry pie.

How to Remove Cherry Pits Without a Pitter

Learn These Two Simple Methods

How to Pit Cherry

The Spruce / Molly Watson

You’ve just brought home a beautiful bunch of cherries from the farm stand and can’t wait to make your grandmother’s cherry pie. But first, you have to pit all of those cherries—and you don’t own a pitter! No worries, there are two foolproof methods you can employ to rid those cherries of their pits.

The two techniques—the twist method and the poke method—are equally simple ways to pit cherries without a cherry pitter. Each technique requires its own tool, many of which you already have in your kitchen drawer.

Watch Now: 2 Easy Ways to Pit Cherries

Make sure to choose fresh, ripe cherries. Rinse them with cool water, pat them dry, and remove their stems. If you have a lot of cherries, this is a good activity to do with a partner or two. If you are doing this on your own, be prepared for it to take some time. Also, keep in mind that the cherries are juicy and that their 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.

The Twist Method

How to Pit Cherry

This method requires something thin that you can insert into the cherry and then twist to remove the pit. Good options are a toothpick, unbent paper clip, hair pin, lobster pick, or a metal orange stick (used for manicures). Insert whichever tool you choose into the stem-end of the cherry. You should feel it hit the pit. Then twist your implement 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 to find the tool and the twisting motion that works best for you, and don’t worry about the mangled mess of those first few cherries—they’ll still taste good.

The Poke Method

How to Pit Cherry

Of course, with the twist method you are doing some poking, but when you see how this technique works, you’ll understand why it’s named the poke method. For this procedure, you will need a pastry tip, straw, or chopstick.

Insert whichever tool you’ve chosen into the stem-end of the cherry and push it through until the pit exits the other side. In a perfect world, the tip or straw hit the pits and pushes them clear through.

A thinner pastry tip works best, since thicker pastry tips, straws, and chopsticks end up taking a fair amount of fruit along with the pit. However, you do need to pay a bit more attention and actually hit the pit on your way through when using a thin tip.

Using Pitted Cherries

How to Pit Cherry

Whichever method you have chosen, once you’ve completed one cherry discard the pit and repeat with the remaining fruit until done.

Now you are ready to incorporate the cherries in a baked good, throw them into smoothies, make brandied cherries or pickled cherries, or serve them any way other than out-of-hand (pitted cherries are a bit messy to eat that way).

Pitting cherries is also a good idea when you’re lucky enough to have too many cherries to use promptly. Using one of the methods, pit the leftover cherries and freeze them to use in recipes later on.

How To : Pit Cherries in a Snap with Zero Mess & No Special Tools

Pitting cherries is really annoying. There’s no neat way to do it with a knife and, though they make a tool that does it, not everyone has space in their kitchen for a gadget that does so little. But fresh cherries are so delicious when they’re in season. it’s almost worth the extra hassle and/or space usage.

News flash: turns out you don’t need a gadget at all! You can pit cherries in an instant, and all you need is an empty bottle (it’s a good excuse to drink a beer, right?), and a chopstick.

How to Pit Cherry

Step 1: Place a Cherry on Top of the Bottle

Rest a cherry (remove the stem, if it has one) on top of the bottle, so that it rests on the lip. Make sure the top of the cherry is facing up.

How to Pit Cherry

Step 2: Stab It with a Chopstick

Place the thick end of a chopstick on the top of the cherry, and push down until the chopstick fully punctures the cherry. The pit will be in the bottom of the bottle, and the cherry will be waiting to be eaten or cooked with.

You may be concerned about just squishing the cherry into oblivion. If the cherry isn’t overripe and you apply even, steady pressure, the only thing that should happen is the pit plopping into your bottle. Then you are left with a delicious ruby gem with no annoying stone.

How to Pit Cherry

Step 3: Repeat as Needed

It’s really that simple! If you get in a good rhythm, you can get a whole pint of cherries pitted in no time at all.

How to Pit Cherry

I’ve bypassed cooking with cherries many times simply because I didn’t know how to pit them easily and with no mess. No more! As far as I’m concerned, this is the only way to pit cherries. you’ll agree the minute you give it a try.

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How to Easily Make Cherry Pie

The start of cherry season should be a national holiday. When the cherries on the trees start to ripen, the limbs hanging low with their bounty, it should be celebrated with backyard picnics, time off work, and a big slice of homemade cherry pie. Cherry Pie Day could bring the world together with it’s carefree attitude and rich supply of delicious desserts. This can be your platform if you ever run for office. After all, cherries are a crowd pleaser and pie always has bipartisan support.

Pit the Cherries

Remove the pits and the seeds from all the cherries, place in a large bowl.

Combine the Filling Ingredients

Add the sugar, cornstarch, flour, and lemon juice to the cherries. Toss to coat. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Line the Pie Pan

Roll out one pie crust on a lightly floured surface, and line the bottom of an 8-inch pie pan.

Add the Filling

Add the filling to the pie pan in an even layer.

Prep the Top Crust

Roll out the remaining pie crust, and cut small holes to vent.

Add the Top Crust

Add the top crust to the pie, crimp the edges to seal, and remove the excess. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour. If the edges start to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Allow to cool completely to allow the filling to thicken.

How to Buy and Store Cherries Like a Pro

How to Pit Cherry

This year’s International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship took place on July 1 in Eau Claire, Michigan, as it has every year since 1974, with one Rick “Pellet Gun” Krause emerging victorious for a record 16th time. He spit the pit 48 feet, 2 1/4 inches.

How to Pit Cherry

5 Sweet and Savory Cherry Recipes

Not that Michiganders have all the fun (though they do have nearly all the sour cherries). Though not all of our home states have active pit-spitting competition communities, there are cherry lovers all over the country who engage in some serious cherry-eating, pie-baking, and jam-making each year during cherry season.

But the weeks, and the cherries, are going quickly, more so this summer than ever. So read on and then, by all means, cherry-pick.

Sweet cherries are what you buy by the bagful and eat out of hand. Sour or tart cherries are true to their name, and the majority of them—99 percent, according to the Cherry Marketing Institute—end up dried, juiced, or, arguably the best application, baked into pie.

Washington grows the most sweet cherries of any state: 237,000 tons in 2014 alone, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, with Oregon, California, and other Northwestern states filling in the rest.

Michigan has a lock on sour cherries, producing about 75 percent of the U.S. crop. The other sour cherry–growing pockets are in New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Sour cherry season, July into August, is short—too short, some might say.

Sweet cherry season is a little longer and goes in waves. California’s season comes first, producing the ones you see at supermarkets starting around May. As that supply peters out in June, sweet cherries from the Northwest start coming in. Typically, they’re abundant through August.

But this hasn’t been a typical year. “This was the earliest start ever to cherry season,” says James Michael, vice president of marketing for Northwest Cherry Growers, which represents growers in Washington and the other sweet cherry states. Michael says an abrupt transition from winter to spring caused the cherries to ripen a month early, which means the fruit is going to get scarcer sooner rather than later.

How to Pit Cherry

Lattice-Topped Triple-Cherry Pie

Bing is by far the predominant sweet cherry. It’s firm, dark red, sweet, and juicy—a textbook cherry.

Soon, the cherries you buy at the store will be a mix of other later-season varieties, says Michael. These include Skeena, a large, nearly black cherry; Lapin, which is quite firm and sweet; and the heart-shaped Sweetheart.

Rainier cherries, a fleeting mid-season variety, have distinct pink-tinged yellow skins and very sweet, yellow-colored flesh. Find them now, but not for much longer, at farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

Montmorency is the most common of the sour cherries. It’s bright red like a Twizzler, softer, and more tender-skinned than any of the sweet cherries.

Remember: only a tiny fraction of sour cherries are sold fresh. The rest are turned into juice and other products. So if you see fresh Montmorencys, snap them up.

Add sweet Rainier cherries to an arugula salad or simmer tart Montmorencys into a sauce for pork tenderloin.

text in callout

The stem on a cherry is like the eyes on a fish, says Michael. You can tell how fresh it is by looking at it. An intact green stem bodes well.

“We pick with the stem on. That helps them hold. Otherwise, the hole where the stem was can rot quicker,» says farmer Peter Klein of Seedling Fruit in South Haven, Michigan.

But that doesn’t mean cherries missing their stems are no good. Check the fruit. It should look shiny and feel firm and plump, not wrinkly or bruised. Keep in mind that sour cherries are naturally softer than sweet ones, and that cherries at the farmers’ market tend to be hand-picked and more fragile than commercially grown ones.

Cherries like it cold. “They lose more quality in an hour at room temperature than they do all day at refrigerator temperature,” says Michael.

So put them in the fridge, unwashed, and keep them dry. If you have room, Klein suggests storing them in layers between paper towels.

Cherries will keep well for at least a week in the fridge. They freeze well, too. Rinse, pat dry, and freeze them in airtight plastic bags. You can do this keeping the stems and pits intact, but you might find it more convenient later on if you pit them first. And hey, think of the fun you could have spitting all of those leftover pits.


shuna lydon

How to Pit Cherry


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23 May 2008

Cherry Pit/ Noyaux Ice Cream. & More Notes on Homemade Ice Cream

We appear to be having a cherry pit-fest over here at eggbeater. Welcome, take a seat, but don’t eat candied stones from strangers. Not everyone has your best interest at heart.

One of the many commenters on this controversial post asked why did I not give a recipe for Cherry Pit Ice Cream after I waxed, or cackled— depending on how you look at it, poetic on the elusive subject. And so, not one to say a unilateral no to requests, here is the recipe.

Find my notes on ice cream from scratch here. In that post there are 3 links to other people who had the time to type out how to make creme anglaise— the liquid base for many ice cream recipes. If you need a lot of hints, check out what David Lebovitz has to say in his book The Perfect Scoop, or in his Ice Cream Tips category on his blog.


Whole Milk 3 Cups
Heavy Cream* 1 Cup
Sugar 3/4 Cup
Large Egg Yolks 6-7
Smashed Cherry Pits 1 — 1 1/2 Cups

*Not ultra pasteurized or listing stabilizers on the carton.

Heat milk, cream, pits, and half the sugar, in that order, in heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan over low to medium heat. When hot to the touch, shut off heat, whisk and let steep 1-2 hours, tasting every 30 minutes.

When hot dairy tastes as strong as you’d like it (remembering that it will taste stronger in flavor and sweetness when it’s hot), bring liquid to boil and pass through a fine meshed sieve, pressing on the solids to press out as much of the liquid as you can.

Make creme anglaise with scented liquid, being sure to chill in ice bath until chilled through and through. It is best eaten the day it is churned but will keep 5 days in a non-reactive container (I use glass) with a tight fitting lid in the coldest part of your fridge.

Creme anglaise recipes vary considerably because, 1. recipes are guides, and 2. recipes are about proportions. If you know what role an ingredient plays and who each ingredient relies on to make it be the best it can be, you can switch up most anything to suit your particular whim on a given day.

The proportion I start with for home ice cream makers is:
6-8 egg yolks
for every
1Q liquid dairy
1/2 — 2/3 Cups sugar

My experience with home machines is that they prefer to have slightly less butterfat involved. In a commercial machine it’s easy to make ice cream that cardiologists would call the police on you for, on the other hand. This is because of the amount of time an ice cream spends in the machine, physically getting churned. It’s about how much chill a machine might be holding onto or being generated.

If you want the best homemade ice cream mouthfeel, eat churned ice cream as soon as it’s ready. If you must put ice cream away for a few weeks or long days, about 20 minutes before you want to eat it, put container in your fridge. This will help «temper» the ice cream = get it to soften slowly, carefully and evenly. If your ice cream ingredients were high in sugar or alcohol, though, you might never get a hard set because these ingredients lower the freezing temperature of water and create smoother, more elastic, softer ice creams.

When making ice creams whose flavors depend on infusions it is of utmost importance that you taste as you go. All herbs, whether they be green or dried, come in varying strengths that only god can determine. Depending on the time of year, weather, and soil; various highly scented flowers, leaves, woods, herbs, spices and other infusables will make stronger or weaker impressions on your ice cream base.

butterfat is the magic carpet ride for flavor infusions in ice cream

if you are looking for a really minty ice cream made with nonfat milk, you are going to have to work really hard at getting that mint scent and flavor to stick to the inside of your mouth once the ice cream melts.

About 10% of flavor and perfume get lost when ice cream is frozen. Although ice cream melts in your mouth, your mouth gets really cold and has a harder and harder time distinguishing actual flavor the more bites, licks, nibbles and slurps you take.

Also, if you infuse ingredients that are high in fat, like nuts and coconut, they will leach out extra fat into the creme anglaise and you might want to make adjustments for that. Not to mention that with something like dessicated coconut you will lose a portion of your liquid to it re-constituting the dried flakes, so you’ll need to be aware of that too.

You can also make ice cream without eggs but not all «alternative dairys» want to be cooked until 160-180F. so be sure to check into it before making an expensive mess in your kitchen.

I hope some of these hints help. I wish you much ice cream making this summer! If you feel like thanking me you may do so by pitching in to buy me a machine I have coveted some time now.


How to Pit Cherry

Ripe cherries on the tree.

An example of something cherry-colored are Santa Claus’ cheeks.

An example of a cherry is what goes on the top of an ice cream sundae.

MLA Style

APA Style


How to Pit Cherry

pl. -·ries

  1. a small, fleshy fruit containing a smooth, hard pit and ranging from yellow to very dark red, including sweet, sour, and duke cherries
  2. any of various prunus trees that bear this fruit
  3. the wood of such a tree
  4. the bright-red color of certain cherries
  5. Slang : mildly vulgar
    1. the hymen
    2. virginity

Origin of cherry

Middle English cheri from Anglo-French cherise (taken as plural ) from Old French cerise from Vulgar Latin an unverified form ceresia from Classical Greek kerasion, cherry from kerasos, cherry tree from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Indo-European base an unverified form ker-; derived by the ancients from Cerasus, city on the Black Sea: the city’s name is itself from the cherries grown in the area

The Best Ways to Pit Stone Fruit

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: In place of a heart of gold, stone fruits have a hard pit. With a few easy tricks, remove that pit and start enjoying the summer’s juiciest, most colorful fruits.

How to Pit Cherry

«Drupe.» It’s a word that sounds like it might be an insult.

To call something a drupe, however, is really more of a compliment. A drupe is a fruit in which a hard pit or stone is surrounded by a fleshy, edible outer layer that we humans eat — and enjoy.

Thus, to label something a drupe is to associate it with tangy mangoes, candy-sweet dates, and the fruit that’s the brightest and juiciest of all this time of year: stone fruit. We’re talking peaches, cherries, nectarines, plums, apricots, and their lovechild, pluots.

How to Pit Cherry

While stone fruit are perhaps the most famous of drupes — anyone who takes a bite of a ripe, farmer’s market peach in August can understand why — they are also the most pesky. It’s hard to resist shouting «You stupid drupe!» when you’re trying to remove a plum pit that’s clinging on for dear life.

We’re going to help you stop using drupe as an insult by showing you the easiest ways to remove a stubborn pit.

How to Pit Cherry

First, pop open that drupe. Stick a sharp knife into the fruit along the seam that runs from top to bottom until you feel the pit. Run the knife around the pit at the midpoint of the fruit so that you have two equal halves.

How to Pit Cherry

Twist the two halves in opposite directions (as you would an avocado or an Oreo) until you feel the flesh detach from the pit.

How to Pit Cherry

If the stars have aligned in your favor, you’ll be able to use your thumb to pop the pit out of the flesh with no problems.

How to Pit Cherry

But if you’re living a less charmed life, chances are that the pit won’t want to give up its prime real estate so easily. In that case, use a paring knife to cut around the pit and pry it out. A spoon — or for small stone fruit, a melon baller — can also be used to dislodge the pit.

How to Pit Cherry

Don’t fret about removing the pit if you’re aiming to slice the stone fruit. Simply slice the fruit into wedges before detaching the pit and you’ll have perfect segments for a peach salad or a peach tart.

If you need chunks of stone fruit and you’re having trouble removing the pit, score the entire fruit by first making several slices from top to bottom, then cutting perpendicularly to those segments. Run your knife along the pit to pry the fruit off in cubes. (The Kitchn has a great demonstration of this trick.) Use the chunks in a summer peach cake or a plum avocado salad.

Or, if you can’t fathom fighting with the pit, just sink your teeth into a ripe stone fruit. The juices will run down your chin and your hands are bound to get sticky, but you’ll understand why drupes are, arguably, the best fruits of all.

Do you have any tips for dealing with stone fruit? Let us know in the comments below!

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