Do pitted olives have the pit removed?

Pitted olives, also known as stoned olives, are olives that have had the pit or stone removed. The term “pitted” refers to olives that have had the pit taken out before being packed and sold. So yes, pitted olives do not contain the olive pit.

What are pitted olives?

Pitted olives, as the name suggests, are olives that have had the pit removed. Olives naturally grow with a large pit at the center. The pit, also called a stone, is hard and inedible. To prepare pitted olives, the pit is first cut out of the olive and then the two halves are put back together to reform the olive. This results in an olive free of pits and safe to eat whole.

Most pitted olives commercially available have been machine-stoned. Specialized equipment uses high water pressure to cleanly remove the pit without damaging the olive. Hand-stoning is also done but takes more time and labor.

Pitted olives may be referred to as:

  • Stoned olives
  • De-stoned olives
  • Pitless olives
  • Stoneless olives

They are sometimes also called split olives because splitting the olive is part of the pitting process. The term “pitted” is preferred in commercial labeling and recipes as it most directly describes the absence of pits.

Why are olives pitted?

There are a few reasons why olives are pitted:

  • Safety – Olive pits can be a choking hazard, so removing them makes olives safer to eat whole.
  • Convenience – Pitted olives are easier to eat and cook with since the pit does not need to be removed.
  • Texture – Removing the pit gives the olives a more uniform, meaty texture.
  • Flavor – Some feel that pitting removes bitterness from olives.
  • Appearance – Pitted olives may look more appealing and uniform without pits.

While pitted olives are very common, unpitted olives are also widely available. Unpitted olives have a more rustic, natural appearance. Those who don’t mind removing pits may prefer the flavor of unpitted olives.

What types of olives are pitted?

Almost any variety of olive can be pitted. The most common pitted olives include:

  • Kalamata – Almond-shaped Greek olives with a fruity, robust flavor
  • Castelvetrano – Bright green, buttery Italian olives
  • Picholine – Elongated French olives with a delicate, nutty taste
  • Manzanilla – Spanish olives with a crisp texture and tart, tangy flavor
  • Mission – Medium black California olives that are mildly flavored
  • Nicoise – Small black olives from France with a distinct, olive-y bite

Greek, Spanish, and Italian style olives are most frequently pitted, since they are often eaten as appetizers or used in salads, pasta dishes, pizzas and other recipes requiring whole olives. Sturdier, oil-cured black olives are less often pitted since their pits are easier to remove.

How are olives pitted?

Historically, olives were pitted by hand using a knife or specialized tool to cut around the pit. While still done in some specialty food shops, most commercial pitting today relies on machines.

The two main mechanical methods are:

  • Percussion stoning – The olives are struck by a controlled blow that splits the flesh and loosens the pit.
  • Water jet stoning – A high-pressure stream of water is used to cut the olive and remove the pit.

Percussion stoning has a lower startup cost but can damage olives. High-pressure water jet stoning is more complex but results in less product loss and higher output.

After mechanical pitting, any broken bits and loose pit fragments are screened out. The intact pitted olives are then rinsed, graded and packed for shipment in jars, cans or bulk bags.

Are pitted olives raw or cooked?

Pitted olives are not cooked during processing – they remain raw. Pitting, on its own, does not require heat. Raw pitted olives are ready to eat straight from the jar.

However, some pitted olive varieties undergo additional processing steps that do use heat, such as:

  • Curing – Olives are soaked and brined in a salt solution, which removes bitterness and develops flavor. Sometimes done with heat.
  • Pasteurization – A heat treatment to ensure safety and extend shelf life.
  • Drying or ripening – Pitted green olives may be heat-treated to darken them.

So while the pitting itself is done without cooking, the raw pitted olives may be cooked at some point afterwards during additional processing or preservation steps before packaging.

Nutrition and Calories in Pitted vs Unpitted Olives

Since the pits are inedible and discarded, pitted and unpitted olives have very minor nutritional differences:

Nutrient 1 oz pitted olives 1 oz unpitted olives
Calories 39 41
Fat 3.7 g 4.0 g
Sodium 251 mg 263 mg
Carbs 2 g 2 g

Pitted and unpitted olives have the same amounts of nutrients like healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, antioxidants, iron, and fiber. The difference in calories and fat is negligible.

So the choice between pitted vs unpitted mainly comes down to personal eating preferences – not nutrition.

Price Difference Between Pitted and Unpitted

Pitted olives tend to cost slightly more than unpitted since there is additional labor and processing involved in removing the pits.

However, the price difference is usually minor – typically $0.50 to $1 more per jar for pitted over unpitted. Buying in bulk or on sale can minimize the price difference further.

Appearance of Pitted vs Unpitted Olives

Visually, pitted and unpitted olives look different:

  • Pitted olives – Uniform shape and color since removing the pit allows the olive halves to be reformed into a consistent shape. The stuffing where the pit was can fall out leaving a hole.
  • Unpitted olives – More irregular and rustic looking, with natural variances in shape based on the size and position of the pit.

Which appearance is preferred comes down to personal taste. Pitting does remove the small hole left by the pit, creating a cleaner, more even look. But some prefer the natural charm of unpitted olives.

Taste and Texture of Pitted vs Unpitted Olives

Since the pits constitute only a small portion of an olive, pitting does not make a major difference in taste or texture:

  • Pitted olives tend to be slightly milder in flavor because the bitter tannins concentrated in the pit are removed.
  • Pitting can give olives a more uniform, meaty texture since the pit no longer separates the flesh.
  • But any differences are subtle, and many people perceive little or no taste/texture difference between pitted and unpitted olives, especially when chopped or used in recipes.

In cooked applications like sautéing, baking, soup or braising, pitted and unpitted olives are largely interchangeable.

How to Store Pitted vs Unpitted Olives

Properly stored, both pitted and unpitted olives keep well:

  • Leave olives in original brining liquid for best quality and to maintain texture.
  • Store containers in refrigerator after opening. In the fridge, olives keep 6 months to 1 year.
  • Pantry storage is fine for unopened jars, or refrigerate after opening.
  • The fridge extends shelf life more for pitted olives since the cut surfaces are slightly more prone to spoilage.
  • Discard if olives smell funky or fermented, or if extensive white mold forms.

With refrigeration and leaving olives immersed in brine, pitting does not significantly impact olive storage life compared to unpitted.


Pitted olives do indeed have the olive pit removed before being packed, resulting in olives without pits that are safer for snacking and easier to cook with. While pitting does incur some additional processing, the effects on nutrition, taste, shelf life and price are quite minor.

The choice between pitted versus unpitted olives comes down mainly to personal preference. Pitted olives provide convenience, especially for use in recipes that call for whole olives. Those who don’t mind removing pits may opt for unpitted for a slightly more rustic, natural presentation. But both make a delicious, healthy addition to meals, snacks and appetizer spreads.

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