After some trial and error, I found it easiest to operate the pitter with my thumb. I cupped the jar with my fingers and punched down with my thumb, using the other hand to place and remove the cherries. I switched hands a few times, but neither thumb felt overly fatigued even after going through several pounds of cherries.
This also separates the pits from the cherries very cleanly with very little loss of cherry flesh. Some of the very ripe cherries did release a lot of juice, but it was easy enough to strain the juice collected in the bottom jar back into the bowl.
No matter what, several pounds of cherries is going to take a while to pit. But this pitter certainly made the job a lot easier and less annoying. It's a vast improvement over the clamp-like pitters I've seen before or the syringe-style pitter my mother and grandmother use.
I found this one at the farmstand where I bought my cherries for a very reasonable $10. They're also available on Amazon if you're having trouble finding them in stores:
• Buy It! Push Button Cherry Pitter, $9.95 on Amazon
Do any of you use this cherry pitter? Or have another one that you love?
(Images: Emma Christensen)