Posted in Farm, Fruits, Healthy, Home Economics, Local, Opinions & Commentaries, Product Testing

Product Review: Starfrit Cherry Pitter

Cherries are in full season, but my “season” started months ago.  I undertook a project  with 20 Valley Harvest Farms.  I have been responsible for many things including designing unique recipes that highlight not only cherries, but whole food, local and Canadian ingredients (Professional Home Economists can be a great source for recipe writing!).

So with so many recipes to design, test and re-test I also indirectly tested out several ways to pit cherries for the average consumer.

I first tried home hacks and methods that required only household items.  You can read that post here: Cherry Pitting: Home Hacks on Trial. Even though I am against having too many appliances and gadgets in the kitchen, I went looking for a possible way to get through pitting tons of cherries so I could focus on the recipes (especially when a test completely fails and I need to re-do it fast!).

So I research and find the single, stainless steel cherry pitter.  One was at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $18.99.  I also found the Starfrit Cherry Pitter.  With the option of “6 cherries at once”, I was very interested.  It was plastic so I was a bit hesitant, but with the price tag of $14.99 at my local Canadian Tire, I considered it for 3 weeks.  (Now when you search during the season, a ton more pop up when searching online.)

After buying out of season cherries from Washington (USA), spending tons of money and losing lots of time for the other tasks I needed to complete for 20 Valley Harvest farm promotions, I bit the bullet and pulled out my wallet.

Did you know that the average recipe development cost charged to companies is about $350 PER RECIPE?! It’s not just the time, but the cost of ingredients, appliances and even energy – electricity for stoves, appliances – add to the cost of a recipe to be developed and tested.

Being frugal, I thought I’d attempt the Starfrit one since it was cheaper and the idea of doing 6 cherries at once compared to the traditional, one at a time, made me travel to Canadian Tire.  When I asked, the employee didn’t even know where to find it and she said they must not carry it.  I thanked her and noted her lack of confidence of an obviously, not well requested item.  So I kept searching the aisle for my solution to my “bloody” cherry hell (I mean problem….).  Well, low and behold, after searching inch by inch, there it was… quietly sitting there with no indication of how purposeful it really was.

So home I went, with a lighter wallet and a hope that this weird contraption was going to make my life easier.

So instead of just showing you photos of how it went, I thought I’d use my daughter to film a quick impromptu video of how the Starfrit Cherry Pitter works from beginning to end. ​

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​PHEc Tips to get the most out of this gadget:

  • The fresher the cherries, the more likely the pit will not stay attached to the tiny flap of skin.
  • Not just for pies, it’s a great way to make maraschino cherries for cocktails, garnishes and additions to salads.
  • A great tool if you are also going to dehydrate/dry these into cherraisins (I made up the word and pronounce it “sher-raisins” or “chair-raisins” – which do you prefer?).
  • Store with your canning gear and put away for the season, or with your colander for reminders when washing other fruits, berries and veggies.

Here’s what I think after testing out the Starfrit Cherry Pitter:

Pros

  • Easy to use – It has the same action as a stapler and a child can do it without help.
  • Dishwasher safe – It comes apart to clean all three parts and no handwashing required.
  • Quick – Less work and mess than home hacks, plus this type does 6 cherries at a time!
  • Easier than other pitters – For people that don’t have good hand and finger coordination (Ex: Persons with MS, arthritis, fibromyalgia, advanced or very young ages) – no balancing or strong grip required.
  • Compact – It stores flat with a small locking tab that keeps it flat for storage.
  • Encourages healthy eating – Mr R Ginger ate an entire bowl in 5 minutes when I offered him “some” since they were already pitted.  I’m sure children and everyone in the family will do the same (we never got a chance 😉 ).

Cons

  • Cost is more than home hacks or commercially prepared ones
  • Space – You’ll need to store it somewhere when not in use.

Final Thought:  Yes, I do recommend this item.

IMG_6374If you are picking cherries or making jam or pies, this is a great and healthy alternative to home hacks or commercially prepared with added sugar (10% for those buckets of pitted cherries seasonally available usually).  This became my go to for my recipe testing.  It has held up great under many dishwasher runs, two kids using it and the countless cherries sacrificed for 3 unique recipes designed by Nutrition Bites for 20 Valley Harvest Farms.

I’m not all for new gadgets, or spending money (frugal PHEc here!), but this saved me time and made it easier to enjoy cherries more this season.  I’m happy to have it in my home, and I know next year I will be ready to pull it out.  This cherry pitter is totally worth not looking like a red-handed, mass-murderer during cherry season when you are up for serving delicious pies, tarts, jams, salads and cakes quickly!

 

Note: All opinions are my own.  This was not sponsored by Starfrit and I have not received any compensation or free items to recommend this product.

Posted in Farm, Fruits, Healthy, Kid Friendly, On Location

Pick your own berries? Yes, please.

The little one won the
The little one won the “biggest berry” pick.

So our family tradition is to go to a local pick your own strawberry farm (Heeman’s in Thorndale, ON) the day after school is done for the summer.  This year, we had a late start and went around 4 pm to pick.  We saw an old friend that worked the Pick Your Own (or #PYO ) and walked instead of waiting for the tractor and wagon ride.

The memory capture - quick shot and on to picking.  No selfie stick and short arms make a stiff neck ;)
The memory capture – quick shot and on to picking. No selfie stick and short arms make a stiff neck 😉
The end of the pic.  Sticky and still sweet.
The end of the adventure in front of the PYO barn at Heeman’s.

There the pickings were slim.  It turns out our nasty winter left some of the strawberry plant roots, a little worse for wear.  So that might have been the last day for picking!  We were so lucky!  We got assigned to our row, and the lessons began. So many questions from the girls even though we have done this for years.  Every year, there is a different level of questions or different people to interact with.  It’s nice because it gives us the outdoors, the fresh air, and fruits (literally) of our labour.  Quality time and no electronics (which I limit to 60 minutes a day for each child anyways – it works, try it!). So we got our strawberries back to the super clean barn.  They weighed them ($2.25/pound) and the price tag – $47 and some.  Yes, myself and two children (8 & 11) picked about 21 pounds of strawberries in less than an hour.

The girls showing off their "biggest pick" and our bounty.
The girls showing off their “biggest pick” and our bounty.

What does one do with that many strawberries?  We delivered some to a friend.  One more delivery still has to be made.  And that night we brought more to a neighbour having an epicure party (their fruit dip mixes are delish!).  Still there was way to many to eat fresh (we pick them at very ripe, as they taste the best and are super sweet then) even for my strawberry monster (the 8 year old).  The plan, as always is to “jam” and to freeze whatever is left if I’m waiting for blueberry and raspberry season (which usually comes later in July & August).

So for an adventure, lessons in life, some free child labour (kidding!), and a tractor/wagon ride – plus tons of fresh produce at a fraction of a price (who says healthy, fresh and local is expensive?) the answer is simple:

Get picking your own fruits & veggies.

Cheap food plus:

  • Physical activity for the whole family
  • Entertainment that is cheap and you get a prize worth more than a dollar or stale popcorn
  • Nature and fresh air
  • Sharing with friends and family (community & social support), or a local food bank – yes they take it!
  • Do some home cooking to get sweet & stick, and
  • Enjoy your work and memories for months to come (preserve laughs and food).
Before the actual picking began.  Notice the amount of people and Heeman staff (orange tshirt) were always around.
Before the actual picking began. Notice the amount of people and Heeman staff (orange tshirt) were always around.

So when raspberry or blueberry season comes, grab a friend or the family, and you will be berry, I mean very, happy that you did.  It’s always a new experience, even if you have done it times before.  If not, the staff are always so willing to help – so just ask.  There is a first time for everything for everyone. (Or just comment below and I will help!)

Smile :)
Smile 🙂