Here's a nifty little trick for easily pitting the juicy, tart Evans cherries.
Every year I play Russian Roulette with the picking of our Evans cherries.
I think they taste the sweetest and best if I wait until after a light frost, or at least until it gets quite chilly at nights. Somehow, the sugars seem to increase in the berries. But it also means I might wait too long and they get overripe, or that the birds or wasps get to them before I do. Last year we got quite a few wasp stings on our hands as we picked the cherries, annoying the wasps, dopey and half drunk on cherries, as they crawled amongst the fruits.
This year, due to the heat and drought conditions of our summer, our fruits and vegetables are all ripening several weeks earlier, and the first frost is still a long time away (I hope). So I am in a dilemma. Do I pick the cherries now, or wait a bit longer? Maybe they'll get sweeter yet . . . but we're leaving on holiday. Do I dare wait til after we come back?
I couldn't resist, and picked a few to make a sour cherry pie (recipe coming soon), and thought I'd meanwhile share a slick and easy tip for pitting the delicate cherries. Evans cherries are a type of northern-hardy sour cherry, developed right here in Alberta. They are so much softer and juicier than regular sweet cherries, that most cherry pitters just squish the fruit and make a mess of juice and cherry pulp.
The best little gadget (after trying many types of cherry pitters) is a simple plastic drinking straw. Yup.
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These instructions are for a right-handed person. Just reverse the process if you are left handed.
See links for recipes using Evans cherries at the bottom of this post.
How to Pit Evans Cherries
Remove any stems from the cherries, and rinse the cherries in a colander under cold running water. Let them drain. Pick out any duds.
Set yourself up for pitting by placing a small bowl for the pits to your left. Place a bowl for the pitted cherries directly in front of you, and place the washed berries within easy reach behind them.
Have ready a plastic drinking straw. (Thinner straws work best.)
Now pick up a cherry, and hold it over the bowl in front of you, between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, with the stem end of the cherry facing to the right. With your right hand, poke the straw into the indent where the stem attached to the cherry.
Push the straw horizontally through the cherry, pushing the pit out the bottom of the cherry as the straw goes through. With your left hand remove the cherry pit into the pit bowl, and with your right thumb, slide the cherry off the straw and into the cherry bowl below it.
Then pick up another cherry and do it again . . . and again . . . and again.
Once you get the hang of it, you can do it all in one fluid motion, and it's quite quick to pit a whole bowl of cherries (and life isn't even close to being the pits - hee, hee).
I like to set up the pitting operation in my lap, and watch television while I'm doing it. Since the cherries can sometimes squirt a bit of juice, I put an old towel on my lap first.
Snip off the end of the straw with scissors whenever it gets splayed and dull, and keep on going 🙂
Now the cherries are ready to use immediately or to freeze in a single layer on parchment paper lined cookie sheets, then pop them into zip top plastic bags to freeze for future use.
Work can be fun, too!
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Now that you've pitted your cherries, try them in some of these delicious recipes: