How to Pit Olives at Home? 9 Different Methods!

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When you have olives that still contain their pits, you might find yourself with the problem of how do you remove them. It is actually really easy to pit olives at home, and here I will show you many different ways to do it.

For this experiment, I use the most popular Kalamata olives from Greece and various kitchen tools. Also, I assess how easy or difficult is to use this method and which type of olives to use.

Let’s look at these options on how to pit olives at home.

1.     Olive Pitter Works Best

Efficiency level: Excellent

Olive type: All

The best option, if you have one, is to use an olive pitter. It can save you time and make sure the olives are in good condition with the minimum damage to the olive while removing the pit. The olive pitter punches a hole through the olive, pushing the pit out of the other side.

pit olives at home with pitter 1
The easiest and fastest way to pit olives at home!

This is an easy way to pit olives, but if you don’t own an olive pitter? Not to worry! There are still many other ways to remove pits described below!

2.     Knife Method

Efficiency level: Excellent

Olive type: All

It is very easy to remove pits from olives using a large bladed knife. But you don’t cut into the olive with the knife, instead, you use the flat side of the blade.

It might be best to start by doing one at a time using this method, and it does mean squashing the olive. I placed the olive on a wooden cutting board and pushed down using some force with the flat side of the blade. This will split the olive open and either force the pit out or make removing it very simple. In my case, the olive opened nicely, the pit cleaved from the skin and I nudged it out easily.

pit olives at home with knife
Squish the olive with the flat side of the blade and check if you can remove the pit easily

You have to be a little bit careful using this method as oil can squirt out, and if you press too hard, the pit can break into pieces. But when you get the hang of it, you should be able to do quite a few at the same time. You should remember to wipe the blade regularly, otherwise, oil on the blade might allow an olive to slip out when you apply pressure.

pit olives with knife
The end result of using a knife to remove pits from olives (after I gently squish olive with a knife I nudge out a pit easily with my fingers )

Using a knife in the normal way to slice the olive freeing the pit, isn’t a great idea. It will be a slow process to remove, and even then, much of the olive will likely remain attached, wasting much of it.

3.     Using a Pot or Pan

Efficiency level: Excellent

Olive type: All

Using a heavy stainless steel pot or saucepan or frying pan to split open multiple olives in one go, might seem like a fast option to removing pits. However, hitting olives with the heavy pot or frying pan could lead to them being launched across your kitchen with their pits still intact, so it’s better to squeeze olives one by one.

I tried to gently squish olives on a wooden cutting board, using the heavy stainless steel pot in the same way as I did with a knife. I cleaved the pit from the skin so that it was easy to nudge out. I was surprised how easy I can remove pits from olives with a help of a pot, this method is effective as using a knife.

pit olives with pan
Flat bottomed pans or pots are great makeshift olive pitters

Last update on 2021-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4.     Using Your Fingers

Efficiency level: Excellent

Olive type: Medium or fully ripe olives

If you aren’t concerned about the esthetics of the pitted olives (for example if you are going to put them into the sauce or soup), you can simply use your fingers to remove the pit from the olive.

Tearing the olive or squeezing it will push the pit out, but this is only going to work on softer olives and not the firmer or meatier varieties. It is the simplest, non-tools least expensive method to pit olives, however, the oiliest for your fingers and nails.

how to pit olives with fingers
By using my fingers I can easily separate the flesh from the pit, and remove it

5.     Pit Olives with a Skimmer Spoon

Efficiency level: Good

Olive type: Medium or fully ripe olives

Using a stainless steel skimmer spoon or meat pounder allows you to split the olive to free the pit. Though since you are using a pounder, you have to be more careful not to smash the pit making the olive inedible.

Smashing the olive with a simmer isn’t going to leave the olive looking great, but you will separate the pit from the flesh fairly easily. Then nudge out the pit with your fingers if necessary.

pit olives with kitchen tool

6.     Straw to Remove Olive Pits

Efficiency level: Good

Olive type: Medium or fully ripe olives

Using a sturdy straw to remove olive pits is possible. This works best if you use a stainless steel metal or eco bamboo straw rather than a thin plastic straw. The plastic straw is too soft and won’t work, it literally bends over and breaks.

Hold the olive firmly or place it on the top of a suitably sized empty bottle if your olives are large size (for example Kalamata olives). You can then push through the spot where the stem attaches to the olive until you hit the pit, and push it right out the other side.

If you do this with a bottle, and you are using one that’s the right size, you should end up with a bottle filled with pits and a nice pile of olives.

how to pit olives at home different ways

7.     Decorating/Pastry Tip Method

Efficiency level: Good

Olive type: Medium or fully ripe olives

Simply insert a decorating tip you use for cakes into the spot where the stem attaches to the olive, and working over a bowl or a bottle, push through until you feel the pit. Forcefully push it continuously until the pit pops out.

If your olives are unripe and firm texture, it helps to push against a cutting board.

This is one of my favorite methods to use a pastry tip because I slide the wide end on my thumb like a thimble and push the pits out using the pointy end!

Last update on 2021-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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8.     Tweezers to Pit Olives at Home

Efficiency level: Low

Olive type: Fully ripe small olives

Have you ever thought about using tweezers to pit olives? Indeed, if you have spare tweezers at home, you can use them to pit olives by grabbing the pit out. Also, this tool can make the job of pitting olives much quicker comparing using a paperclip.

I tried tweezers for Kalamata olives and it was quite difficult to separate the pit from the flesh since kalamata olives are large with large pits. So for this method is better to use fully ripe small olives like Koroneiki, Lianolia, Tsounati.

pit olives at home with tweezer
Smaller olives are better for this tweezer olive pitting method

9.     Paperclip Method

Efficiency level: Low

Olive type: All

Some people swear by the paper clip method to remove cherry pits, but should you try it with olives? This involves partially unwinding the paperclip into a shape “s” and then pushing it in to free the pit from inside the olive by moving it around. You can then either hook the pit and pull it out or push it all the way through.

This is unlikely to be the easiest or cleanest way of removing pits, and you may find it more time-consuming than you’d like.

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General FAQs

How to Pit Olives for Stuffing?

When you are preparing olives for stuffing, you want a nicely removed pit from the fruit and for this reason, the best option is olive pitter. If you don’t have a pitter at home, try to use a metal straw or a decorating/pastry tip and push the pits out.

What is the Easiest Way to Pit Kalamata Olives?

Kalamata olives are large with smooth texture olives, so the easiest way to pit Kalamata olives is to use olive pitter. It’s the most efficient method. However, if you don’t have this tool at home, you can use a knife or metal straw to pop out the pits.

Can I Use a Cherry Pitter to Pit Olives?

Yes, you can use a cherry pitter to pit olives and vice versa. Typically pitters are simple mechanisms made from stainless steel and work perfectly for both cherries and olives.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many options to pit olives at home. The correct method you use to pit olives at home depends on the ripeness level of olive.

If the olive is unripe, the flesh is hard and sticks to the pit. In that case, it would be difficult to remove pits with fingers or paperclips, so better to use olive pitter. If you don’t already have an olive pitter, a large bladed knife is likely to be your best option.

However, if olives are fully ripe, they have a softer texture and will pop out their pits with less of a struggle by using a knife, paperclip or your fingers.

Also, the method you use to pit olives at home depends on the olive cultivar. For example, Koroneiki olives are very small olives so it’s easier to use olive pitter for this job or a knife. Though Kalamata olives are one of the largest and you can apply various methods to remove the pits.

Don’t hesitate to try a few of these methods above while pitting olives at home and let me know which way you enjoyed the most and why!

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