An olive pitter is a kitchen utensil which has been designed to pit olives. These tools incidentally also work well on cherries, making them a versatile and useful addition to the household. While the olive pitter might seem a bit frivolous, this tool can be a real energy saver, even if you make only one cherry pie and a handful of olive dishes every year. Many kitchen supply stores sell olive pitters, and they can also be ordered through various online retailers.
Basically, an olive pitter is a fancy hole punch. It includes a bowl which is designed to secure the olive, and a handle which is squeezed. When the user squeezes the handle, a small punch presses through the olive, forcing the pit out through a hole in the bottom of the bowl, and leaving the fruit of the olive behind. When released, the punch opens back up, and the olive can be dropped into a bowl or serving dish.
Pitting olives can be a real pain. The pits often stubbornly cling to the flesh, which you have to painstakingly cut open and pry apart to get at the pit inside. Often, the olives end up completely mangled at the end of the process, as do the hands of the person doing the pitting. An olive pitter cleans up the process and speeds it up, and in a commercial kitchen, it is a vital tool, because it keeps the hands of the cook from coming into direct contact with the food.
The design of an olive pitter is pretty basic, but when you're looking for one, there are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure to get a well constructed pitter, as flimsy materials will quickly give way under hard use. You should also ideally find one made from stainless steel, as other materials can be corroded by the brine used to cure olives. The handle should be large, smooth, and comfortable, as you will be holding it in your hand for an extended period of time while you pit olives and other stone fruits.
Most olive pitters can be run through the dishwasher, but you may want to double check. In any event, check the nooks and crannies of the olive pitter for fragments of pit and fruit before you wash it, and periodically while you use it, as the pitter can become clogged.