push-button cherry pitter in-depth: vintage kitchen

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This mason jar cherry pitter had a humble beginning in the mid-1900s and remains in production today. Read on for a detailed history and review!

history of the push-button cherry pitter

This Push-Button Cherry Pitter design was originally invented by Otto Krasberg in 1938. He was an experienced tool and die maker, and was part of R. Krasberg & Sons Mfg. Co.: Krasco for short. The oldest versions of this push-button cherry pitter are labeled as Krasco cherry pitters.

They were originally manufactured in Chicago and sold at the Mark Schlise Orchard in Forestville, Wisconsin. In the 1950s, the Schlise Orchard sold the pitters to customers who came to pick their own fruit. Cherry pickers could receive a free cherry pitter if they purchased over $10 worth of cherries, which today would be around $110 worth of cherries.

people picking cherries
unknown cherry orchard in Door County, WI 1940; courtesy Library of Congress, LC-USF34-061279-D

Mark Schlise passed away in the 90s; his son Tony Schlise and Tony’s wife Rita took over sales of the pitter. It was renamed Tony’s Push-Button Cherry Pitter, introduced to a much broader market beyond the cherry orchard, and is still manufactured and sold today. You can find the cherry pitters here on eBay.

push-button cherry pitter package

manufacturing process

The pitters are completely made in the United States. But the manufacturing process has become a bit more complex, to say the least! Seemingly every piece comes from a different manufacturer in a different state–everything from the metal spring to the display card.

tony's push-button cherry pitter

The cherry pitter itself is stainless steel, while the ring is plated steel. The base of the pitter is essentially a canning lid with a little seat for the cherry, which contains a hole for the pit to come through. There’s a replaceable rubber strip underneath the holeThe rubber strip allows the pit to come through but fully detaches it from the cherry. Without the rubber strip, the cherry pit becomes a hanging chad. The rubber strips are sometimes available on eBay If you can’t find them there, you can contact the company directly about replacement strips. Find their contact info here on their website.

On the top of the lid is an arm that holds the plunger contraption. The pitter doesn’t come with a jar but can be attached to any regular-mouth mason jar.

The cherry goes into the seat and, when the button is pressed, a spring-action plunger shoots the pit through to the jar. The jar functions as a waste reservoir for the pits, and the pitless cherry is left up top. The pitted cherries are mostly intact, but with a hole through the middle. Sometimes there’s a little flap of fruit left on the bottom, too.

pitter demonstration
The pitter works best when the cherry has no stem and is placed right-side-up into the remover.
push-button cherry pitter demonstration
bing cherry close-up

accuracy of the push-button cherry pitter

Because cherries are all slightly different, no cherry pitter works perfectly. So to test the accuracy, I pitted this batch of 50 cherries. Getting through all 50 took 3 minutes and 45 seconds. I missed 7 of the pits, which is an 86% accuracy rate. Not perfect, but it’s good for how easy-to-use the pitter is. Pitting problems usually happen with extra soft cherries.

pitted cherries
50 pitted cherries

I didn’t have any olives with pits around today; leave a comment if you’d like me to test how it does with olives.

washing and storing

To clean: separate the lid from the ring, remove the rubber strip, and wash everything in warm, soapy water. Make sure all parts are thoroughly dry before storing; even stainless steel can rust when stored improperly. If keeping the cherry pitter out in the open in your cabinet will be awkward or you don’t want it to get dusty, you can keep it in a wide-mouth pint jar.

cherry pitter storage

review: benefits of the push-button cherry pitter

There are a lot of strengths with this cherry pitter. The stones are consistently removed and neatly caught in the jar, the fruit stays in one piece, and–aside from the replaceable rubber strip–it’s entirely stainless steel. So it’ll last indefinitely if stored properly.

It only takes up the footprint of a mason jar, which is convenient for storage in small homes. The rubber strip is sold separately and is easily replaceable.

drawbacks

As with many cherry pit removers, juice can spray from the cherries when the pits are being removed. It’s best to wear an apron and work on an old towel or cleanable surface. Another downside is that the rubber strip will eventually begin to break down, as rubber does, and needs to be replaced periodically.

My main concern would be if the rubber pieces became unavailable in the future…although they’ve been in production for well over 50 years already, so I guess it’s not too much of a worry. They can’t be bought too far in advance, though, because rubber breaks down in long-term storage. I’m sure there would be some way to create a replacement if the strips became unavailable, though.

takeaway

I’m not usually one for single-purpose kitchen items, but I can see why this vintage gadget is still in production. I intend on keeping mine and would recommend it to others.

rotary shredder

In the next installment of Craft Revue: Vintage Kitchen I’ll be checking out this vintage rotary food processor.

What vintage kitchen gadgets would you like to see featured here? Let me know in the comments below!

Craft Revue makes tutorial videos and how-to guides for adding art to everyday life. Browse projects by checking out the latest posts.