How to Pit Cherries Without a Cherry Pitter – Easy and Fast

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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.

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 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.

There are several other common kitchen items you can use to remove the pits for your favorite cherry recipe, including:

To use a chop, reusable drinking straw or pastry tip:

Remove the stem of the cherry. Poke the chop (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 like to place the cherries on top of an empty , and push the pits into the .

When selecting your chop, choose one with a wider end, not a point. The pointy chops 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.)

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 s.

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. 🙂

We have dozens of canning and preserving guides on the site to help you preserve the harvest.

They include:

12 Ways to Preserve Strawberries – Plus Tips to Keep Berries Fresh Longer

Preserve Apples for Year Round Use 17 Easy and Creative Ways

Homemade Fruit Leather – Works with a Variety of Fruits

Dehydrating Apples for Easy Homemade Apple Chips

5 Ways to Preserve Peaches, Plus the Easiest Way to Peel Peaches

Originally published in 2014, last d in 2021.

Linda says

July 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm

We just picked cherries from our cherry tree last week and I was thinking how it’s a pain to get rid of the pits. Thanks for the tips.

Ryann says

July 31, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Do you put the paperclip through the top or bottom, or does it not matter?

Laurie Neverman says

July 31, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I usually go right in the stem , which is naturally open on tart cherries.

Lisa Kingery says

July 31, 2014 at 8:00 pm

My longtime handyman and dad for hire, Walt Stumpf, suggested I visit your site. I love the post and video and it couldn’t be more timely, We just returned with 10 pounds of tart cherries from Door county. I bought a pitter but would like to put the s to work too–paper clip. My most recent post has a recipes that does not require pitting the cherries–Vanilla Lime Spirited Cherries for canning. Check it out.

I look forward to reading and watching more of your posts.


Lisa at the Local Global Kitchen in Milwaukee

Tracy Spangler says

August 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I was in much the same situation you were in the 90’s, but now I have 7 lbs. of cherries in my freezer, and no idea how to pit them all. I knew I couldn’t afford a real pitter. Thank you so very much for this practical, saving tip! Now I just have to buy some paperclips, as it seems even my junk drawer doesn’t contain one!

Laurie Neverman says

August 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Glad to be of help. I’ve never tried thawed cherries, but it should work.

Salem says

August 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm

My mom’s from the Thumb of Michigan, and she has always used the paper clip method for pitting. In fact, because we always had a lot to do and your fingers could get tired of holding the clip, she just rubberbanded the end you weren’t using to pit the cherries to the bottom of half of a wooden clothespin. Sped things up nicely!

Holly Sayer says

August 8, 2014 at 6:44 am

Not sure where this information came about a paper clip, but it was not from Cherry Lane Orchards. Our preferred method is on our website.

Laurie Neverman says

August 8, 2014 at 9:14 am

I don’t remember the name of the orchard, but it was on the Bay side of Door County, up past Sturgeon Bay. It was over ten years ago, so I don’t recall, and we haven’t been back since we found your place. 🙂

Holly Sayer says

August 8, 2014 at 6:59 am

(cont.) a good video presentation though! Each person finds their preferred method for those delicious Door County Cherries.

Lisa says

August 16, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Just got an awesome cherry pitter at Walmart in the produce department. It was only $6, and pits 6 cherries at once!!

grandpa bob says

May 23, 2017 at 12:27 pm

where are you and which walmart

Joann L says

January 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm

What a great tutorial. This is one of the best life hacks ever! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Laurie Neverman says

January 27, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Thanks, Joann. Is it cherry season in your area?

Terry Cady says

July 26, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Arrg! Where were you last week when I needed you?! I pitted about 10 half pints worth using the stapler type. The biggest problem with this is that it doesn’t always (as in MOST of the time) pop the pit out. My mom used to have one that had a sort of a plunger motion, with a chute for the cherries and a container for the pits. Oh well, I still have several pounds that I will use a paper clip on. Thanks for the demo!

Laurie Neverman says

July 27, 2015 at 8:11 am

Yes, we’ve found paper clips to be more reliable at getting the pit out, too, compared to the staple type pitters.

Alice Clark says

July 26, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Thank you so much for posting the recipe of Old Fashion Rhub Pudding. As a my mom used rhub so many ways even eating it raw. To sour for me but one of my daughters loves it raw. Wish I had some of those old recipes as they have now been lost.

Laurie Neverman says

July 27, 2015 at 8:10 am

I love old cookbooks and recipes. It’s like stepping back in time.

Melanie Ware says

June 26, 2016 at 12:49 am

Have you tried this with sweet cherries? Thanks for the great demonstration!

Laurie Neverman says

June 26, 2016 at 12:09 pm

It doesn’t work quite as well with sweet cherries, unless they are very ripe so that the stone releases without a lot of effort.

Bernie says

August 14, 2020 at 5:28 pm

Hi, I decided to fight the birds for my cherries this year. Only had a couple of pounds and Googled ideas for removing stone. I found a post that suggested a plastic drinks straw which you just push through and stone comes out through stalk . Does eventually get buildup in straw but if you cut straws in four you can wash them through or cheap enough to just bin them. It works as well as my staple one I can’t find and cheaper.

Sue Radkiewicz says

June 14, 2021 at 11:38 pm

Perfect timing! Our tart cherry tree is loaded, I know what I’m doing tomorrow!! Thanks. 😊

Laurie Neverman says

June 15, 2021 at 8:25 am

You’re welcome.

Ours is loaded, too, but only about half grown. I hoping we can keep it watered enough to get a harvest. Still no rain here.

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How to Pit Cherries Without a Cherry Pitter – Easy and Fast


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