No muss, no fuss, no $200 cherry pitter
EC: How to Pit Cherries Without Buying a Silly Gadget
Credit: Photo by PoisonedHeart via Getty Images

Cherry season is cruelly brief and you should be jamming them into muffins, smoothies, fruit salads, pastries, parfaits, juice, preserves, cherry bounce, and your mouth right about now. But you really shouldn't do that until you pit the cherries. It's a semi-tedious task that someone without your best financial interests at heart might suggest calls for a special cherry pitting gadget (seriously, some deluxe cherry pitters can cost up to $200), but you have no need of such a thing in your life or your already-crowded kitchen drawers. Use some simple tools you already have on hand and pop out those cherry pits without fretting, wasting, or making a mess.

With all of these methods, you should remove the stems first and wash the fruit. If the cherries are just going to be cooked down and don't need to remain lovely, take a chef's knife and smash the cherry with the flat of the blade to split it open and easily fish out the pit. If you're processing a bunch at once, lightly prick each one and use a plate to flatten several at a time. In either case, there will be a fair amount of splatter, so place them in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan to collect the juice and contain the mess. Gloves wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

For a more pristine pit removal method, grab a chopstick, pastry tip, or drinking straw and push it through the stem indentation until the pit pops out the other side. You can also bend open a paperclip or spread open a bobby pin (wash them first) and stick the bent end into the top side of the cherry. Twist it until the pit is loosened, then pop it out.

From there, the possibilities are ridiculously delicious—the aforementioned baked goods, salads, drinks, and whatnot—but you should act quickly and greedily to get the most of the season. Eat your fill right now, and then save a few bags for enjoying throughout the year. If you're planning on simply freezing the cherries whole to eat later, feel free to leave the pits in and toss them in the freezer in a bag unwashed until you're ready to thaw them out. Otherwise, turn them into sweet preserves, store them in booze (you get cherry-infused liquor and liquor-infused cherries that way), make shrub, pickle them, can them, make cherry simple syrup for cocktails and cherry soda, and just try to ingest as many cherries as is legally and morally feasible for you. Once you run out, waiting for the next season is just the pits.