View Full Version : first time bottling: cork preparation

07-22-2012, 11:14 AM
Hey guys.

So, read around a bit and wondering about cork prep for bottling.

First off, I'm using these colmated corks from Portugal by way of Germany:


I've read various ways of doing it: Boiling the corks, soaking them in hot water for an hour, steaming the corks, soaking in meta for an hour. I'm not sure if I want to use meta, but I don't know if it's a good idea to boil these corks. Comated corks, if you don't know, are basically natural corks that were not quite as high of a grade. They then use a cork powder glue of sorts to plug the holes. Anyway, the material is natural cork.

So, would it be safe to boil these, or soak them without meta?

They came in a sealed bag. And that's the other thing: The seller recommends using all of the corks within 6 hours of opening the bag because of moisture loss to the corks once the bag is opened. Does this sound right? I suppose if that's what they recommend that they would know. Hell if I know.

I'll be using a floor corker like this:


I read Schramm's book and that part about bottling, but any and all ideas about bottling are appreciated.

And, oh, yes, the mead is ready for bottling. 3 batches ranging in age from 10 months to 14 months old, all fermented out, clear and ready to go.

Chevette Girl
07-22-2012, 11:51 AM
The corks I use are bits of cork glued together. I used to boil my corks because that's what my early 1990's wine book told me to do, but after reading that this (and soaking or steaming them) is an antiquated practice because most corks today have a coating on them that's destroyed by soaking or boiling and who knows what it's doing to the glue in my agglomerated or your colmated corks, I just dip them in a k-meta solution right before I use them. The folks at the brew-on premises place don't even do that, they just use them straight out of the package.

I've never heard of this "must use within 6 hours" thing. The brew-on-premises places where I get my supplies certainly don't go by this... I wonder if it's just a ply to get you to buy more smaller packages? Or maybe there is some legitimacy to it and your corks aren't coated the way the ones over here all seem to be, I'll be eager to hear others' thoughts on this as well.

The cork's moisture content is going to change once it's out of the package anyways because suddenly, it's got one end wet and one end dry, and it's going to reach its new equilibrium within a couple of days, so by my thinking, as long as you can get it into the bottle successfully, you should be fine. And if you're really concerned, try to re-seal the leftovers back package as best you can, I do that just to keep them sanitary. But I've had no problems from using corks that have been out of their original seal for years.

07-22-2012, 02:55 PM
Thanks Chevette Girl! You always come through with a timely reply for me. Much appreciated.

Chevette Girl
07-22-2012, 03:07 PM
Thanks Chevette Girl! You always come through with a timely reply for me. Much appreciated.

Hey, no problem... always glad to help.

(what it really means is I'm not working, and am looking for more fun things to do than de-stem those darned gooseberries!!!)

07-22-2012, 03:10 PM
Looks like I won't soak them at all.

Just found this link online:


And this one:


Evidently natural corks these days have a coating on them that soaking does indeed damage. And the corks don't need to be sterilized. The corks I bought came from a dealer who sells to large wineries here in Croatia and the bag is sealed. The second link has comments about corks drying out as I mentioned in my original post.

Anyway, after reading these, I won't be treating the corks at all. Thanks for taking the time to reply, though!

And good luck with the gooseberries! Sure the work will result in something tasty.


07-22-2012, 03:16 PM
Just rereading the site in Croatian that I bought from and they say that the corks are sterile packed. So all good to go.

Chevette Girl
07-22-2012, 07:17 PM
So you just have to sanitize your hands and the corker and you're all set! :)

I didn't know that about moisture content, but since I'm often doing bottling in 5's and 10's and I'm pretty sure most of my corks were not sterile-packaged, I'll keep sulphiting my corks...

07-22-2012, 07:23 PM
I just dip my corks in the current batch of StarSan before throwing them in the corker thingie.

07-23-2012, 02:46 AM
I'm gonna go ahead and bottle the 3 batches at once sometime this week and skip any cork sanitizing. Wish me luck!

07-23-2012, 01:53 PM
I just dip my corks in the current batch of StarSan before throwing them in the corker thingie.

this is my technique too. a min or two in StarSan, a min or two to dry, and in the go.

07-24-2012, 07:16 AM
As per Ken's book, I soak them for an hour prior to bottling in a k-meta solution of one campden tablet and 1/2 gallon of water. When preparing to bottle, the first thing I do is prepare the soaking solution. By the time I have the bottles, auto-siphon, tubing and wand prepared; the corks have been in the solution for about an hour. I place then in a water tight container with lid, filled to the top so that the corks are immersed. The solution lubes the cork a bit for easier insertion.

His book also says that traditionally the bottoms of the corks are dried before inserting. I don't do that. Why touch them with anything to dry them? I just shake off the excess solution. After all, you use K-meta to stabilize your mead. There is no need to worry about a fraction of a drop of solution clinging to the cork.