In the unfortunate circumstance that you have unpitted olives while making a dish such as our Puttanesca from yesterday, you will have to go through the tedious process of pitting each olive by hand. If you have a dedicated olive pitting machine, then you can use that, but we certainly don’t in the tiny kitchen! Trust me, you could end up spending well over an hour on this task unless you use one simple trick that makes the process much quicker and easier.
The idea is to separate each side of the cut from the pit, resulting in the two olive halves you want. In general, you will notice that the flesh of green olives (which are unripened) sticks more securely to the pit than black olives (which have ripened). Thankfully it doesn’t matter how many smaller pieces of olive you end up with for the Puttanesca, but if you are relying on nothing but fingers alone, you will find that prying the flesh from the pit requires a bit of finger nail length, lots of tedious effort, and many over-cut olives.
You want to start by cutting a line down the middle vertically all the way down the olive going as deep as the pit.With the cut on each olive facing up as pictured, push down on the olive with the flat of your knife. If the pit doesn’t immediately fall out, you can roll the knife back and forth with pressure until it does. That’s it! Easily pitted olive halves that were done much faster and more easily than with fingernails. Repeat the process with all the olives you need to pit until finished.