Can you eat cork?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat cork?” with an in-depth analysis of what cork is made up of and where cork is being used. Moreover, we will also discuss what happens if a person consumes cork, whether it is harmful or not.

Can you eat cork?

Yes, a person can eat cork which means that it is not something that is not edible. But one must be careful when they swallow a cork because there is a chance that the cork might get stuck in their throat. The swallowing of whole cork can be dangerous 

Cork is a natural substance and generally, there is no harm in eating it. Cork is usually present as a covering or as a lid for the bottle of wine. When a person pours wine in the glass some pieces of cork might also come with the wine. These pieces are not harmful, but they do not give a pleasant taste to the person who wants to drink wine.

That is why it is not recommended to eat cork despite the harmful effects of ingesting the cork.

What is cork?

Cork is the bark of the plant which is present naturally in plants. This bark is present in the outer side of the cork oak tree. The bark is the tissues of the tree that are typically dead.

The oak tree, whose bark can be used as a cork, is located in the areas of Southwest Europe and Northwest Africa. This plant species is the famous tree species in the areas of Portugal, as it is present in a wide range in the coastal regions of Alentejo and the Algarve.

The cork is a natural product that is reusable and can be recycled as well. It is among the most versatile materials of the world either from an environmental, social or economic perspective.

Extraction of cork:

The extraction of cork from a cork tree is carried out without even harming the cork tree. This extraction does not cause any harmful side effects to the plant’s normal growth and development.

Uncorking is the removal of cork from the cork tree after which the plant once again develops a new layer of the bark on the outer side. This newly developed bark has the same properties as that of the original one and is of the same size. 

Interestingly, this process of extraction can be repeated every nine years but still, the same bark appears. Nature is amazing.

Nowadays, many new mechanical methods of extracting a cork are being developed. These new mechanical methods help in further prevention of injuries to the plant or any physiological damage. 

Composition of cork:

Cork is a natural plant tissue that can be seen as a beehive under the microscope due to the arrangements of microscopic cells. These cells under a microscope can be seen surrounded by a gas which is similar to the air we humans breathe.

The cells of the cork are covered by suberin and lignin. 

Suberin:

Suberin is a natural wax that is hydrophobic.

Lignin:

Lignin is a polymer that is present in different terrestrial plants. It is responsible to provide rigidity, impermeability and resistance to the plant.

Characteristics of cork:

As cork is a natural substance so it possesses various important characteristics. Some of the important characteristics of cork are as follows:

Good Insulator:

Cork acts as a good insulator because it has low conductivity to noise and vibration. This might be because of the isolated gaseous components which are being enclosed in a semipermeable compartment.

Resistance to fire and high temperature:

Cork acts as excellent resistance to fire and high temperature. It can burn without flame and cannot emit any toxic gas during the process of combustion.

Light and buoyant:

Cork is a lightweight compound whose fifty per cent volume is air. The weight of cork is very low, approximately 0.16 grams per cm3. Due to its low weight, it can float.

Hypoallergenic:

Cork is a hypoallergenic product because it can not absorb dust. This makes it protect against various allergies and is not a risk for people with asthma.

Impermeable to gas and liquid:

Cork is impermeable to gases and liquids because of the presence of suberin and ceroids which are present in the cell walls. This resistance towards liquids and moisture helps cork to age without getting deteriorated.

What happens if the cork is present in food?

If the cork is present in food, then it does not cause any harm except for the risk that it might get stuck in the throat or give an unpleasant taste. As cork gets older it continues to dry. This drying of cork may play a role in the crumbling of cork due to which cork is present in wine or food. 

If cork pieces are present in wine or food, then there may be a chance that wine or food is not completely protected as cork has crumbled and microorganisms can grow inside and the food might be spoiled.

Conclusion:

In this article, we have answered the question “Can you eat cork?”. We have also discussed cork, its composition and its characteristics. Moreover, we have also talked about what happens if you eat cork.

References:

https://amorimcorkcomposites.com/en/why-cork/what-is-cork/
https://www.corkor.com/blogs/corkor/what-is-cork
https://www.quora.com/Can-you-drink-wine-with-cork-in-it

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.