How to Pit Olives Like a Pro
Olives look and (I swear) taste better when you pit your own. So here's the fastest, easiest way to get out the pits—no special tools needed at all.
This week on RS Cooking School I showed you how to pit olives. But because the show was 99% focused on cooking potatoes you may have missed it. It’s a trick so simple I was sure I had already taught it. But when I looked up to see jaws on the floor, I knew it was worth reviewing.
Yes, you can find lots of different types of olives already pitted but, unless I’m drinking a martini, I like to pit my own. I find the rough edges and irregular shape of a home-pitted olive more aesthetically pleasing which makes my brain think they taste better: you eat with the eyes first, they say. Plus, un-pitted olives tend to stay firmer and juicier than their pitted counterparts.
Here’s how to pit olives like a pro:
1. Working with one at a time (you can build up to a few at a time once you get the hang of it), place an olive on your cutting board. Place the flat side of your knife over the olive. I like my chef’s knife for this because it gives me plenty of surface area.
2. Place the heel of your hand on the knife right over where the olive is sitting underneath. Put your weight into it and press down firmly until you feel the olive give way.
3. Remove the knife, set it aside, and take a look at the olive: the flesh should have flattened and broken around the pit. Use your fingers to pull the flesh apart, and separate the pit from the juicy meat.
If you’re pitting a bunch of olives be mindful and keep the flesh and pits separate. I am guilty of getting mixed up and having a few pits sneak into my tapenade. (No one loses a tooth on my watch...anymore).
This method works for any type of olive you encounter. Once you master it, use the pitted beauties on top of salads, crispy potatoes, pasta, pizza, or whatever you like. A few thought-starters for you here.
That said, if you’re entertaining and serving olives as part of a more sophisticated spread, or alongside an aperitif, go ahead and leave them un-pitted. Hot tip: eat one olive before guests arrive and place its seed in a small but pretty dish next to them. That way your guests will know exactly where to put their pits.
For more olive intel, check out our guide to common types here.