Bottle of red wine on top of various wine corks
Should You Ever Cook Pasta Sauce With A
Wine Cork?
By Elaina Friedman
In some parts of the world, you'd be chastised for throwing away a wine bottle's original cork — at least when you're about to make pasta sauce.
Evidently, throwing a cork in a pot of sauce is a time-honored tradition in parts of Italy and Portugal, according to chefs.
"In Italy, the wine cork would loosen particles; therefore, we would use it when cooking harder or tougher meats to help tenderize them," chef Carla Pellegrino told Food & Wine.
The natural enzymes found in wine corks can help tenderize meat — octopus in particular — by drawing out moisture.
If you dip a cork in your wine, you'll see that it does want to soak up the liquid like a sponge. Indeed, the average cork contains 800 million air-pocket cells.
It's no wonder Portugal is known for cooking with corks, as it has fertile ground for cork oak trees. In fact, Portugal and Spain produce over 80% of the world's cork.