This French Grandma Has a Brilliant Trick for Keeping Fruit Flies Away

published Sep 21, 2021
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Someone holding wine cork.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

If you’ve been stocking up and drinking plenty of vino during this harvest season, I have just the trick for you. It turns out natural wine corks can actually keep fruit fresh for longer. Before you toss yours out, allow me to explain.

I encountered this helpful tip when chatting with French-born food blogger Helene Skantzikas about cleaning tips she’d gleaned from French grandmas. “Cut the wine cork in half and put it in your fruit basket,” Skantzikas told me, relaying the idea from her own mother (who happens to be a French grandma herself). So, how does it work? Easy! The natural cork absorbs humidity from the air around it. Lower humidity in the air means slower ripening, which means fruit stays fresher, longer!

This trick is especially handy during fruit season, when my kitchen is bursting with more tomatoes, peaches, and berries than I know what to do with. Unlike the fridge, which essentially halts the ripening process, a wine cork slows it down, making fruit less likely to spoil quickly.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

What’s the Difference Between Synthetic Corks and Natural Wine Corks?

So, what do you do exactly? First, you’ll need to use a natural wine cork — one that’s actually made of cork material — rather than a synthetic one. Synthetic corks are made from plastic and can’t absorb excess humidity. How can you tell which type of cork your wine has without actually opening it? As a general rule, wines that are meant to be aged are stoppered with natural corks. Younger, cheaper wines are more likely to have synthetic corks.

But you don’t have to break the bank on a fancy Napa Cab just to save your nectarines! One good fact to remember: “Old World” or European wines are more likely to have natural corks than “New World” or American wines. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How to Use a Natural Wine Cork to Keep Fruit Fresher, Longer

Once you’ve found your authentic cork, all you do is dry it thoroughly (corks left with wet, sugary wine residue will only attract flies!), and cut the wine cork in half with a knife or sharp scissors. Then, nestle both sides neatly into the fruit bowl. Trust me — it really works! I’ve been doing this with my fruit since early summer, and I’m thrilled to report a noticeable difference. The juicy farmers market plums that used to turn mushy and attract fruit flies within days now last almost an entire week (unless I eat them all first, of course). Plus, I like that my fruit is at room temperature at all times — fridge-cold fruit is just less flavorful.

Bottom line? This is one of my favorite “aha!” kitchen hacks because it puts a throwaway item to good use and helps cut down on food waste. And since I always seem to have a bottle of wine kicking around, it’s pretty easy to do.

What do you do with your old wine corks? Tell us in the comments below.