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Leifheit Preserving Cherrymat Cherry Pitter Machine
July and August are my favourite months of the year, not least because my cherry trees are in full production, and there is nothing more beautiful than the sight of a fully laden branch festooned with bright little balls of red. Cherry trees, both eating and cooking, are so easy to grow in the South of England where I live, and recent years has seen the development of root stocks that bring the growing of cherry trees within the sights of the home gardener. Traditionally these trees are majestic giants, but root stocks such as Colt and more recently the dwarf Gisela make cherry trees more garden friendly. They have absolutely gorgeous blossom in Spring too!
Morellos in particular are so easy to grow as they will thrive on north facing aspects, but eating cherries like a more sunny position. Both survive very well on really little attention, in fact they are a lazy gardeners option with pruning actively discouraged, and only to be undertaken when absolutely necessary after fruiting, and never in the winter when disease can take hold. I planted cherry trees in my garden 25 years ago and they are my gems. This year has been a bumper year for the eating or sweet cherries, and August will see a similar bounty coming from my Morello trees. So for the first time this year I have plumped for the stoning tool I so desperately needed to replace the laborious hand held stoner that has served me well for many years, but was tedious and so time consuming. I will shortly describe this tool, but if you are interested I have reviews on Dooyoo that cover all aspects of Morello tree production, and also eating or sweet cherries as well. These reviews also cover details regarding where to purchase trees to secure the best quality. I would also add to those reviews that it is possible to find fantastic bargains in garden centres at this time of the year. Bare rooted trees are planted in November, but these need several years to get established, but if you search around you can find quite large trees in pots at reasonable prices in some garden centres- ideal if you want to see some results more quickly!
The machine that I purchased is the Leifheit Preserving Cherrymat Cherry Pitter Machine and I bought this from Amazon for £16.58. I purchased this before the cherry season started, but I noticed today that the price has gone up to £23.62, so I guess this is a reflection of the sales that are being generated by those, like myself, who are faced with pounds and pounds of cherries to stone! I first got the idea for purchasing a tool like this by researching, and my attention was drawn to a lovely video on YouTube where a gentleman was demonstrating his cherry stoning machine. It isn't the same make as the one I purchased as he lives in America, but the design is identical and it gave me the idea. Sourcing the one he uses was difficult in the UK, I could have bought it from Amazon.com but I opted for a very similar machine having seen the concept in action! If you are interested his little video can be seen here-
There are other more expensive machines- some approaching the £200 mark- ideal if you have a cherry orchard. If we move house that is exactly what I would like to have, but for now here is my impressions of the machine I purchased- ideal for my cherry trees that now number 5 in total.
How It Works
The machine is a simple concept- it works by the use of a funnel that carries cherries from a filling bowl to a collecting bowl, and by the use of a carefully placed plunger that you operate each cherry is punctured, and the stone is removed before it falls into the collecting bowl that you place under the funnel. The stones fall into a collecting box and the job is done. It really is that simple or so it claims, so what was my experience of using the tool and how does it compare to a standard hand held pitter?
First of all I would say that the product is supplied with excellent instructions that really explain how to set up the device, and even for me who is not the most technically minded it was easy to understand. The first time I used it I piled my first lot of cherries into the feeding dish, and gently guided the first cherry onto the chute and started to use the plunger. The cherries fell well on their own down the chute, and only occasionally need a little push in the right direction. The procedure is quick and effortless, and it also prepared a lot in a very short space of time- I did 500g in less than 5 minutes on my first use. Subsequent uses have seen me prepare larger amounts for the freezer, and the tool has transformed this task which previously was so time consuming, and also rather messy. I think this tool makes the job a lot less daunting, as less juice is lost when the cherries are stoned, or at least less squirts out in all directions!
Yes occasionally one rogue cherry falls through without being stoned, and yes the gadget is all made of plastic so is cheap and cheerful, but it has transformed the job I used to often delegate to my poor husband who would spend all Sunday afternoon engaged in this laborious task!
Are there any negatives? Well I wouldn't say there were, but maybe a couple of things to be aware of. First of all you can't pile in too many cherries at once into the feeding box. If you do this they will bunch up and won't feed through the chute properly- you have to be quite slow with this, just place in a sensible number, and keep topping up. Also with regard to cleaning after use, this is a simple task as running water alone will clean the device thoroughly, as long as you do it straight away. As some parts are plastic leaving it before cleaning will risk staining of the plastic with cherry juice that becomes difficult to remove. I know this as my single cherry stoning device is a light pink shade after several years of use, and a few times when I didn't clean it immediately.
All in all I think this is a fantastic and in my opinion vital tool to own if you have more than one cherry tree or even if the only tree you have is a prolific cropper. You do have to be vigilant and collect the cherries promptly as they ripen, because you will have competition from birds unless you net the tress, which I personally don't do as I don't mind sharing some with them. Apart from anything else these trees provide a wonderful canopy for birds to hide from predators such as cats. The Morello trees in particular have a lovely fretwork of small branches for baby birds to perch, and they also provide a wonderful screen to provide privacy from neighbours if you live in a built up area.
I wish I had bought this tool years ago as it has made a tedious task into pure joy! I don't know why cherry trees are less popular than you would imagine, as cherries are very expensive to buy in the shops, and Morello cherries are not available in punnets and are mostly only in jars in sugary syrup. It would also be a fantastic purchase if you live close to a market where cherries are sold at reasonable prices.
This simple device has really been a brilliant purchase- so impressed I have been with it that I have purchased two more cherry trees this year, so that next year hopefully I will have a freezer bursting with cherries to see me through the dark winter months. Highly recommended.
This review will also be published on Ciao with photographs under my user name Violet1278.