How we tested
You can pit cherries by hand, but a cherry pitter can save lots of time, quickly pitting the fruit so that it can be used for preserves, pies, and more. These gadgets can also be used to pit olives. Since our last testing, many new products have entered the market, and all of them work in essentially the same way: A mechanism drives a dowel through the stem end of a cherry and pushes the pit out the bottom. Some, such as our former winner, the Progressive Prepworks Cherry-It Pitter ($15.00), have several dowels to pit multiple cherries simultaneously; others handle just one cherry at a time. We bought 12 models priced from $3.99 to $19.99—eight single pitters and four multipitters, including our previous winner—and put them to the test, pitting nearly 50 pounds of cherries and 5 pounds of olives to find the best tool for the job.
Cherry Pitter Performance Problems
A basic problem emerged immediately: Most of the models just weren’t accurate. Only one successfully removed 100 percent of the cherry pits. The other models were inconsistent, making it impossible for us to recommend half of them; when you’re eating cherry pie, the last thing you want is to bite down on an errant pit. Some models simply didn’t stabilize the cherries adequately, so they slipped around within the loading chamber, forcing the dowel to enter the fruit off-center and sometimes miss the pit entirely. Curved dowels or dowels that entered the cherries at an angle sometimes pushed the pit sideways into the fruit; dowels that plunged straight down into the cherries were more successful. And finally, some dowels were too narrow to dependably find purchase on the pits, skidding past them instead of pressing them through. Dowels that were at least 0.28 inches in diameter tended to be more accurate, and our winner had fairly thick dowels—almost 1/2 inch across, which helped it remove all the pits every time.
That said, thicker dowels, including the ones on our winner, tended to make bigger holes in the cherries, wasting a tiny bit more of the fruit (about ¹/16 teaspoon per cherry with our winner). Most of our testers were willing to sacrifice aesthetics and a little fruit for better speed and accuracy; after all, a cherry pitter won’t save you any time if you have to go back and pick through the fruit to make sure the pits came out. In fact, because their performance was so unreliable, two of the multipitters actually took longer to pit 1 1/2 pounds of cherries (7 1/2 to 8 minutes) than most of the single pitters (6 to 7 minutes). Our favorite multipitter, however, was both accurate and fast, dispatching the same weight of cherries in just 31/2 minutes.
Big, Neat Multipitters versus Smaller, Messier Single Pitters
Performance aside, other factors made certain pitters neater and easier to use. The multipitters were much tidier, thanks to attached plastic bins that collected the pits and lids that efficiently contained any juice. And fairly little effort was required to press down the dowels, which were usually embedded in the multipitters’ lids. But these gadgets were also somewhat bigger and had more parts to clean by hand (though all models were dishwasher-safe). And with the exception of our winner, multipitters also required a little more fussing (lifting trays, counting pits) to figure out when they had failed.
While single pitters were simpler and more compact overall (easier to clean and easier for us to tell when they had missed the pit), they were generally messier: The worst ones shot pits across the kitchen or sprayed cherry juice all over our arms, the walls, and the counter. Single pitters also required more hand strength, asking users to repeatedly squeeze levers or triggers to deploy the dowel.
Though our previous winner, the Progressive Prepworks Cherry-It Pitter, still did a good job of pitting cherries, it was eclipsed by a newer product, the Tovolo Cherry Pitter ($15.28). This multipitter accurately pits every single cherry, thanks to its large, straight plastic dowels and unique design. Its accuracy and large capacity (up to seven cherries at once—the most of any pitter we tested) combined to make it the fastest model in our lineup, and it was very neat, collecting all the dropped cherry pits in its large, removable base. This durable model was still going strong after pitting an additional 8 pounds of cherries. It also excelled at pitting olives and smaller, more delicate sour cherries.
We tested 12 dishwasher-safe cherry pitters priced from $3.99 to $19.99, including eight single pitters and four multipitters, which are capable of pitting several cherries at once. We started with an elimination round in which we pitted 10 cherries, timed the process, and disqualified models that failed to pit three or more cherries or took longer than 1 minute to get through all 10. We used the remaining models to pit more sweet cherries, plus olives and sour cherries, again timing the process. We evaluated these pitters on performance, ease of use, and neatness.
Performance: We rated each pitter on how consistently and accurately it removed pits from the cherries and on the size and shape of the holes it left behind.
Ease of Use: We evaluated how fast, easy, and comfortable it was to load, pit, and remove cherries; we also rated how easy each model was to clean by hand.
Neatness: We evaluated each pitter on how much of a mess it made, awarding more points to those that collected the pits and kept the splatter to a minimum.