Go ahead, treat yourself to a cherry pitter
...you deserve it!
Every spring, when I’m absolutely certain that winter is behind us for good, I start eying the cherry pitter that has languished for ten months in the back of my kitchen drawer with more affection than one might think a kitchen gadget merits. When cherry season arrives, as it has, the ritual begins, and one that gives me great joy: I start pitting fresh cherries with my cherry pitter. It gives me joy in many ways. One is that I know the cavalcade of summer fruits and berries is beginning and in the next few months I’ll be in stone fruit, cherry, and berry bliss.
But when I’ve mentioned or shown my cherry pitter on my blog, or on social media, it inspires people to tell me their personal stories of they use a bobby pin to pit cherries. Or a straw. Or a cork with some sort of hook stuck in it. Or by balancing each cherry over a bottle and poking out the pits with a straw or chopstick.
That’s all well and good if you’re pitting a dozen cherries for a single tart or pie. But when you’ve got a few pounds (or kilos) of cherries to pit, as I invariably do (since I do my best to eat at many cherries as possible when I can during their brief-ish season), I don’t want to stand over a mound of cherries squishing a bobby pin into the center of each and fishing around until it hooks around the pit, and then trying to yank it out. But perhaps that’s just me. I’m not known for my patience. I want to click once, pop the neatly pitted cherry into the bowl, and move on to the next one.
I’m not one to spend money on stupid stuff. And while everyone is in a different place economically, I’m not asking people to buy a Tesla or a Bitcoin (which no one seems to know what that actually is...) So I sent out that tweet to honestly find out why people will spend over a thousand dollars on a phone, but balk at shelling out a few bucks for a simple cherry pitter that will always be there for you when you need it.
People don’t have a problem paying $9 for a bottle of wine (which is getting off easy!), a few gallons of gas, or for two slices of pizza, all of which only last for a very brief time in our long, eventful lives, but I didn’t get a definitive answer that satisfied my curiosity except for a few who claimed they were simply against single-use kitchen gadgets. I’m not one to be nosy but suspect that if I went into their kitchens (or bathrooms; curling irons and razors, I’m looking at you…), I’d find a few single-use items aplenty lurking within arm’s reach.
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Many quoted an unnamed ‘celebrity chef’ that rails against those as well. I am not sure who that chef is, but she or he is unlikely someone who has had to pit many lugs of cherries for desserts at their restaurant, as I have done in my many years baking professionally. I feel sorry for their pastry team if their chef treats their team that badly and insists they use bobby pins for pitting cherries, rather than purchasing a few cherry pitters for them. If any of you are reading this, here’s a word of advice: Quit. Or make the chef pit a few cherries with you using hairpins. I am sure a few pitters will arrive with the next Sysco delivery.
Even at home, I've pitted hundreds…no, thousands of cherries in my life, and this is one of the few single-use items in my kitchen, although a few noted cherry pitters can be used for pitting olives, too. But mine only comes out for cherries.
For those against single-use kitchen items, I’m not entirely unsympathetic to your cause. I don’t need a plastic grape slicer or an elongated banana cutter, which for lord’s sakes, doesn’t even peel the darn banana for you. (Although I am sure someone is working on a contraption that does that.) And I’m okay using a soup spoon to scoop out avocado pulp rather than using an avocado rake. But although one can shake up a cocktail perfectly well in a Mason jar, I have to say that I enjoy the drama and fun a cocktail shaker gives me when making a drink, so I have one of those on hand.
And I'm also loath to part with my single-subject coffee pot, which isn't good at doing anything else but make coffee. True, you don’t really need one to make coffee; my dad told me that when he was in the army, a Brazilian bunkmate would make coffee by crushing coffee beans between two spoons and pouring boiling water over them, into a cup. So I guess if I had to do without a coffee maker, I could. But since we’re not currently at war, I am thankful to have my low-tech Moka pot handy for my morning coffee. I don’t ask it to do anything else but make sure I don’t bite someone’s head off, which I will do if I haven’t had it make my morning café.
My dishwasher is another single-use appliance I’m happy to have, that just does one thing. Since this is the internet, I know someone out there will tell me that people bake salmon in their dishwasher. For example:
No offense to that very nice woman who is baking her salmon in the dishwasher. I just don’t see it as being easier than steaming it in a steaming basket, which is another single-use gadget that only does one thing, but does it well.
Like my steamer basket and coffee pot (and oyster shucker and wine bottle opener), a cherry pitter is an affordable investment, and if you can spring for one, it's a good idea to buy two, so you can get some help pitting all those cherries. What’s the use of being in a relationship or of having kids around if they’re just going to watch you pit all those cherries by yourself?
For those who want to make the leap, since I’m asked which pitter I prefer, after pitting crate-loads of cherries as a baker and pastry chef, the Oxo cherry pitter has become my first choice, with the lower-tech Westmark coming in second. When I worked in restaurants, we used one of these Leifheit ones, which plow through the cherries faster, although you do need to check for pits since you’re not seeing the cherries chop out of the pitter as you do with the squeeze models.
Happy (faster and easier) pitting!
Some Favorite Cherry Recipes
Cherry Compote (shown above)
And I’m working on a dark cherry-berry galette (below) recipe that’ll be up on my blog hopefully in a few days…