Avocados, peaches, nectarines, olives, dates, and mangoes all have one thing in common: Each has a pit that needs to be removed before you use the fruit in a recipe. While pitting fruits is by no means difficult, different styles of fruits require different approaches to removing the pit. We'll give you tips and tricks for each.
What is a Pit?
Soft, fleshy fruits with pits in the middle are known as "stone fruits" or "drupes." The pits themselves are made of the seed of a fruit surrounded by a hard shell. Fruit pits are inedible.
Note that if you're enjoying the fruit to eat out of hand, you do not necessarily have to pit the fruit. Generally, you can eat around the pits of cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and olives. So go ahead and pack unpitted peaches, plums, and nectarines in a picnic basket. Serve unpitted olives on an appetizer buffet, or offer a big bowl of unpitted cherries on a dessert buffet. Just be sure to provide a convenient receptacle for the pits.
The easiest way to pit cherries is with a cherry pitter, a handy gadget available at kitchen supply stores. Here's how to use one:
While a cherry pitter removes the pit cleanly and quickly, if you don't have one, you can use these other common household items to remove those pesky pits. In both cases, work over a bowl to catch the pits.
If your olives are small (about the size of a cherry), they can be pitted with a cherry pitter (see instructions, above). For other olives, it's easy to remove the pits simply using your hands.
Note that some olives, such as Cerignola olives, are difficult, if not impossible, to pit. Serve these as appetizers, keeping a bowl handy for discarding the pits. Be sure to warn your guests if the olives you serve are unpitted.
To remove the pit from a date, cut a slit into the side of the date, from the top end to the bottom end, then pry the pit out with the knife.
To pit a mango, first take a look at its shape. You'll notice it has a broad, flat side. That shows you the shape of the seed at its center, and gives you an indication of how you'll want to cut around it.
For more information on mangoes, see How to Peel a Mango.
The key to pitting these fruits is a light hand -- you'll want to keep the soft fruit bruise-free and intact, while getting that stubborn pit out. Here's how:
A slice and a twist are all that stands between removing the pit of an avocado from its rich, buttery flesh. Here's how to do it: