The Last Thing To Do Before Throwing Your Wine Cork Away

Keep calm and collect those wine corks — you heard us, save those stoppers. After the wine has been opened and corks have been used once or twice to reseal bottles, it can be tempting to toss the little nobs into the bin. But it's probably best that you don't; in an effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle, there's a clever way to put these plugs to good use once more as a cooking hack.

When they're done serving as a barrier between fermented grape juice and the outside world, wine corks can get a second life as a handy kitchen tool. While many have advocated for their use in the kitchen as a means of tenderizing protein when tossed into a pot and left to simmer, we have a slightly different suggestion. Rather than add corks inside a pot, why not affix them onto a pot's lid instead?

Given that many metal pots and the accompanying lids can become quite hot, touching them barehanded isn't wise. Though potholders are an option, TikTok user Andrew of @abouttoeat instead suggests sliding a cork under the all-metal lid as a makeshift insulator. A hack he discovered while filming Chef Motokichi for Buzzfeed's "Worth It," wine corks can provide an easy-to-grip and cool-to-the-touch handle to avoid coming into direct contact with a scorching lid.

The best corks for the job

Just like all lids aren't made the same, neither are wine corks. Generally speaking, traditional corks are ideal in comparison to synthetic corks, which are less aesthetic and result in a grip that's not as secure due to the material they're made with.

As for which cork shapes to use, there are generally two ways to go about finding the proper fit for your lid. The first option is to employ standard wine corks. Since the stoppers are uniform in shape and tend to be relatively thin, this means that you might need to wedge at least 2 corks (if not 3) under the handle. That said, if there's a lot of space in between, and you find the corks are rolling around, then there's an alternative. As demonstrated by Andrew, a stopper that proves consistently suitable is a sparkling wine cork. Due to its much thicker shape, it will fit more snugly under the handle, which means that you also only need to use one cork instead of several.


Andrew shares things he's learned while filming the show Worth It. Tip no. 1: Corks under lid handles.

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It's not altogether necessary to clean before using as pot grippers, but if you must, a simple wipe-down with a damp cloth or a quick boil to remove any excess grime is all they need. You will, however, want to remove the corks before washing the pot lids. And just like that, the humble wine cork lives to see another day.