Now I've got lots of cherries – but –
it's the “pits”!
By Frank Zunti

With the introduction of the much improved sour cherry varieties developed at the University of Saskatchewan within the last few years, there has been a great deal of interest in growing them and many gardeners are finding these a very worthwhile addition to their backyard or acreage.

Years back, many people grew pin cherries, chokecherries, and there were some cherry x plum crosses, but they were not very hardy. Later on, there was a variety called the “Evans Cherry”, a selection from Alberta. Dr. Bob Bors of the University of Saskatchewan started crossing sour cherry varieties from all over and distributing some of these seedling cherries for trial to interested people. He was doing an ongoing process of selection with the better performing varieties of those seedling cherry crosses and, as a result, the University of Saskatchewan brought out the first named variety of these crosses, known as the “Carmine Jewel”. Then came the “Romance” series of cherries like “Romeo”, “Juliette”, “Cupid”, “Crimson Passion”, etc. and they are reasonably hardy for our harsh Saskatchewan winters.

The fruit of these cherries makes excellent desserts such as pies, crisps, jams, jellies, sauces, wines, liquers, etc. They can yield a considerable amount of fruit after having been established for a few years but, as everyone knows, if you are going to make pies or other desserts, those cherries have to be pitted or stoned, whatever you wish to call it. And that is the “pitfall” of having a bountiful harvest of these delicious fruits.

Some people use a bobby pin or a heavy drinking straw to push the pit through the cherry, which can be very tedious and messy. A slightly more advanced way is to get a hand held pitter that holds one cherry at a time and you squeeze the handle together and force the pit through the cherry. If you have any substantial amount of cherries to do, you end up with a super hand cramp!

A much more practical solution is to get a table mounted cherry pitter such as the “Norpro” cherry pitter which speeds up the pitting job a great deal and is very easy to use. With this cherry pitter, we have done a 4 litre ice cream pail full of cherries in under 10 minutes, and have done 20 litres in less than an hour. Consider it a long term investment that will save you a lot of time and aggravation over the years.

The Saskatoon Horticultural Society has decided to sell these cherry pitters and is getting them out to the public as a great time-saving appliance. Currently, we are pricing them at $40.00. The profit from these sales goes towards our scholarship/bursary offerings.

The “Norpro” cherry pitter is available with a vacuum or a clamp-on type base.

As your volume of cherries increases, small commercial pitters are available starting at about $270.00 and up and, if you have a lot of cherries, you can get commercial pitters that will process up to 1000 lbs per hour. You can contact Dr. Bob Bors at the University of Saskatchewan, who has procured one of these commercial machines for the University. At this time they will do custom pitting if you have a large amount to do.

A small commercial pitter.

You can get more information on larger models of cherry pitters by doing a search on the internet. But, for the average person, the Saskatoon Horticultural Society would be pleased to make your cherry pitting a more pleasant experience. At the present time, we are offering the “Norpro” cherry pitters on a pick-up basis at locations in the City of Saskatoon. For more information, contact the member of the Saskatoon Horticultural Society listed below. We have them on hand for pick-up, or we would be pleased to fill your order.

Bill – 306-249-1329