Cork maturation process: importance and key factors
Cork maturation is an essential step in the production of high-quality materials based on this natural resource. It is during this process that cork bales in sheet form go through a critical stabilization period, which lasts at least 12 months. This stage is crucial to ensure the cellular stabilization of the cork and the elimination of any residue of “green cork”, an early phase of the cork that has not yet reached its optimal characteristics.
However, the success of the maturation process depends not only on the duration but also on the conditions in which the stacking is carried out. Factors such as the climate of the place where maturation takes place can significantly influence the final quality of the product. Proper stacking should consider aspects such as:
• Weather protection: It is vital to protect the cork from the elements, such as rain, extreme sun, or humidity, which can affect its quality.
• Isolation: Ensuring that the cork is in a place isolated from external contaminants is essential to maintain its integrity.
• Arrangement: The way cork bales are stacked and organized can influence how they are aired and, therefore, their maturation.
Therefore, to obtain top-quality cork, it is not only essential to respect the minimum maturation time but also to ensure ideal stacking conditions. At Parramon Exportap, the cork stacking warehouse was built, with perfect climatic orientation. The sun rises in the east and impacts all along the side of the warehouse, the day progresses, and in the afternoon it impacts all along the other side of the warehouse. The north wind “Tramontana” impacts from north to south in the warehouse and aids the drying process.
This process, when done correctly, ensures that the cork mass to be processed is of the best possible quality, offering durable and high-performance final products.
Environment and sustainability. The entire top of the warehouse is covered with solar panels that generate 45% of the total energy needed by the plant. The rainwater from this roof is directed to a well, where it is stored and will be used for the next process: hydration.