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:
Apricot and Evans Cherry Crisp
No-Bake Cherry Coconut Bars - a Delightful Use for Evans Cherries
Evans Cherry Pie to Make Billy Boy Happy
Thank you Margaret for the idea of pitting cherries with a plastic straw. I will try that next time I have sour cherries to pit. I have used a paperclip like a little scoop in the stem end. It also works quite well.
Hi Irene, sounds like you've got a super, high-tech system, too! The straw works really well for me, and I can pit a big bowl in no time, watching TV. It's quite satisfying to see the cherries pile up. Hope you're having a great summer!
A Canadian Foodie
Done it that way for years. Wrote about it, as well! Works like a charm. Looks like you got a truckload there!
Yes, I'd tried all sorts of cherry pitters and then a few years ago a friend passed on this simple but genius trick - it's probably been around forever and the rest of the world knew the secret, but I was totally thrilled with how well it works! Sometimes the simplest things are the best, aren't they? I'm hoping my cherries will wait for me til we get back from holidays. I think I'm taking a bit of a gamble! Happy rest-of-the-summer to you 🙂
i use the back end of a coffee or espresso spoon. works perfectly, for me i kept squashing the straw.
Sounds good, too. I guess the moral of the story is that the simplest things work the best. Whatever it takes to get that little pit out so we can enjoy the delicious cherries!
This little tip made all the difference in the world
for me .What a time saver.Now I have lots of pitted cherries
tucked into my freezer,just waiting to jump into my breakfast drink
thanks a bunch Wendy
So glad it worked for you - now you know the secret, too! It's quite satisfying to pit a bowlful, once you get into the rhythm, isn't it? Those morning cherries will be a lovely reminder of summer once we're in the depths of winter!
Margaret, this is genius! This summer mom and I were pitting them by cutting them in half...
You'll find this goes a whole lot faster! More time for lolling around 😉
Thanks so much for the tip! I have a very abundant Evans Cherry tree and I could never figure what to do with the cherries other than to squish them and make jelly, now I will be looking for more recipe ideas. By the way, I will also be stealing your idea of setting yourself to watch tv while pitting, genius!
You're welcome. I see cherry pies and cakes and crisps in your future! 🙂 There's the old saying 'Give the laziest man the hardest job and he'll find the easiest way to do it' - that's how the TV watching came about! Hope you have many enjoyable cherry-pitting/tv-watching sessions.
I use a neat little fork trick to pit mine. Something like this. http://www.barefeetinthekitchen.com/2012/06/homemade-cherry-pitter.html
If you get the bend right it works like a charm. I made a second one and it still works fine but not quite as slick as my first.
That looks pretty nifty! Thanks for the tip. I guess there's 'more than one way to pit a cherry'! 🙂
Place each cherry (stem side up) on top of the neck of a soda bottle (glass is best) and push the straw down to expel the pit. Very little juice spray and the pits are contained for easy disposal. That's my method. Straw must be occasionally re-cut to ensure a sharp edge.