The great peach has been many things throughout time—a symbol for sexual awakening in everything from Renaissance art through contemporary media, a vessel for a fictional boy and his friends to traverse distant lands, poison in Parasite, a dirty emoji—but never has it ever been easy to pit.
The riper a peach, the juicier if its flesh, and thus the slipperier the wrestling match with its hard almond-shaped core if sights are set on a pie, a cobbler, or any other delight that demands the fruit be coaxed apart. Pit removal is the dark side of the peach, a fruit otherwise synonymous with all things bright and perky.
Which could be why, when home cook Lori Woosley Uden posted a 15-second TikTok video of a painless approach to the painful pit mid-June, her trick racked up more than 100,000 likes in only a few weeks, prompting even Padma Lakshmi to reproduce it. (Cue more likes.)
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The technique works as follows: Grab a pair of needle-nose pliers and a ripe peach. Open the pliers to the rough width of a pit, and plunge the sharp ends into the peach’s shoulders, on either side of its stem. Squeeze the pliers shut around the pit, re-orienting as needed to gain traction, and yank the pit from the peach like you’re pulling a tooth, as you gently rotate the fruit for resistance.
“I hate pitting peaches, so I just sort of came up with it last month,” Woosley Uden wrote to me. Of course, it’s possible others have been using pliers like this long before her video—a comment from @hypno_granny read, “I bought pliers specifically for the kitchen because I use them so often.”
The needle-nose plier technique is most helpful when dealing with clingstone peaches, but works with freestone peaches as well if one really can’t be bothered to slice them in half. (The difference between the two types, as defined by The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts by Jules Janic and Robert E. Paull: “The flesh adheres more or less tightly to the hard pit or stone, hence the terms freestone or clingstone.”) Usually, clingstone peaches are smaller and juicier than freestones, and come into season earlier, between mid-May and early June. The oft-Instagrammed donut peach, for example, is a clingstone. Freestone peaches, with their barely-affixed pits, come into season mid-June and tend to stick around until mid-August.
Stanley 5-Inch Needle Nose Pliers
The plier technique also works beautifully with ripe nectarines, which are actually a type of peach with a genetic difference that means smooth rather than fuzzy skin. (They too can have freestone or clingstone pits.) Woosley Uden says she uses her pliers to pit cherries as well. The only scenario I tested that did not result in easy pit removal was an unripe peach, which played out more like fruit assassination, with a firm yellow peach stabbed and stabbed to no avail.
For those who lack needle-nose pliers, old standbys—like the wedge-and-twist method, in which one cuts a peach into halves or quarters, then twists the flesh from the pit—are going nowhere. But it just might be worth shelling out the $13 a pair of needle-nose pliers will run you for a chance to admire the great peach in its most impressive role yet.