Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce was first developed in Worchester, England, back in 1835. Since then, it has become a staple for professional chefs, home cooks, and pitmasters worldwide.
The sauce is often used for making marinades for barbecues and as a condiment for many types of grilled, steamed, fried, baked, and other dishes.
The chances are that if you don’t use it regularly, you may have a bottle of this sauce sitting in the fridge, and you may not even be sure when you first put it there.
The question which many people ask us is – does Worcestershire sauce go bad?
Read on to find out more about the shelf life and the proper storage of this popular condiment.
Do you need to refrigerate the Worcestershire Sauce?
Contrary to many beliefs, Worcestershire sauce does not need to be refrigerated, even after opening the bottle. But then again, by keeping the sauce closed properly in the fridge, you can prolong its shelf life to a year or more.
The condiment is made of vinegar, molasses, anchovies, tamarind extract, garlic, onion, salt, sugar, cloves, chili peppers, and other natural flavorings. It is the anchovies and the tamarind extract which give this famous condiment the enticing umami flavor.
Like other sodium-based condiments such as fish, oyster, or soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce can be stored at room temperature. The only rule is to close it properly and keep it in a dry and cool pantry or other storage space.
When it is well sealed and kept away from direct sunlight, you can expect the Worcestershire sauce to last 6-12 months from opening it.
If you want it to last longer or don’t use it very often, it is advisable to keep the Worcestershire sauce in the refrigerator.
How Long Does Worcestershire Sauce Last?
The shelf life of Worcestershire sauce is 1.5-3 years. But you can safely store it and use it for long after the best by date on the label.
If you keep the open bottle of sauce at room temperature, then you can expect it to last for about 1-1.5 years. If you keep the open bottle in the fridge, it can stay safe and be used for up to 3 years.
If the bottle is not opened, you can store it in your pantry for up to 5 years without concerns for its taste qualities and safety.
Even way past the best-by date, chances are that the Worcestershire sauce will still be good to use. In fact, it won’t ever really go bad. But after time, its taste may begin to deteriorate, so don’t expect that your 10-year old Worcestershire sauce will taste as good as new.
As soon as the bottle of sauce is opened, its quality will begin deteriorating over time. This can lead to a flatter taste and frustrating results in the kitchen or on the grill.
In general, the shelf life of an unopened bottle of this condiment is five years after the best-by date when kept in the pantry. In the fridge, an unopened Worcestershire sauce will last for up to 10 years and more.
Once you open it, you can safely store the sauce in the pantry for up to a year or in the fridge for up to 3 years.
Even after that, the sauce will never go bad, but you can expect its flavor and quality to decline.
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Does Worcestershire Sauce Go Bad?
As we mentioned earlier, Worcestershire sauce does not ever spoil or go bad. The problem is that after the bottle is opened, you can expect its color, texture, and flavor to start changing, especially if you keep it in the pantry.
In the refrigerator, the deterioration of the quality of the opened Worcestershire sauce will be much slower.
But even long after the best by date of the condiment has passed, you can rest assured that the sauce is safe for consumption.
The secret to the long shelf life of Worcestershire sauce is in the ingredients used for its making. One of the main ingredients is vinegar which is a natural preservative. It helps deter bacteria and prevent bacterial growth.
Still, it is advisable to do a quick test of the Worcestershire sauce which has been living in your refrigerator for years before using it. Look at its color, texture and smell it to make sure that it is ok. If you smell or spot mold, throw it away immediately.
Another telltale sign that something is wrong with the Worcestershire sauce is if you notice a buildup of gas in the bottle. If the bottle is plastic, the excess gas will cause it to change in shape. You can easily detect excess gas once you open your bottle of sauce. If there is an unusual and loud pop sound, then it is very likely that there is a gas buildup that has spoiled the sauce.
If you smell an unpleasant and unusual smell when you open the bottle of Worcestershire sauce, it is recommended that you throw it away. It is better to be safe than sorry and avoid ruining your meal or ending up with stomach problems or food poisoning.
Don’t worry if you notice sediment on the bottom of the bottle of Worcestershire sauce. This is normal, and it should dissolve once you shake the bottle.
In any case, if you want to get the best of your Worcestershire sauce, no matter what you are cooking or using it for, it helps to replace the old bottle with a new one periodically. Not because it will be unsafe to use, but because its taste qualities will not be as good as expected.
If you have run out of Worcestershire sauce or prefer to prepare your own condiments, you can check out some of the online recipes for homemade Worcestershire sauce.
It does require a long list of ingredients, but it is pretty easy to make at home as well. After you are done, you can bottle it or can it and store it in the fridge like the original.
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