The famous Worcestershire sauce came about as a result of trial and error by two Worcester county pharmacists experiments. That is how the name “original Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce” came about. John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins later formed the company Lea & Perrins and from there Worcestershire sauce has been a generic term since 1876 after a high court ruling of the United Kingdom that Lea and Perrins did not own the trademark to Worcestershire sauce.
If the sauce is one of your favorites, then you should find out all about it in terms of its ingredients and how it’s made so that even when you have emptied the last bottle and your local market doesn’t have it, you will have a solution for your needs.
So, what is Worcestershire sauce made of?
Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid condiment of a complex mixture. It is normally used to enhance food and drink recipes. It is also used directly as a condiment on finished dishes such as hamburgers and steaks and also added to dishes which initially did not contain it such as beef stew.
The leading global brand of Worcestershire sauce was officially commercialized in 1837. According to the company, when the sauce was first mixed it became so strong that was considered inedible and was left in the basement for quite some time. The pharmacists later on decided to try it again and this time around, they discovered that the long fermented sauce was not only edible but it was also agreeable to taste and in 1838, the first bottle of Worcestershire sauce was officially released to the general public. Since then, it is now being manufactured by different commercial retailers.
Another interesting thing is that the Worcestershire sauce from Lea and Perrins sold in the United States is different from the one sold in British and Canada. The American version is sweeter and saltier since it contains distilled white vinegar instead of malt vinegar and three times much sugar and sodium.
Worcestershire sauce ingredients
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
What are the variations of Worcestershire Sauce?
a) Gluten free Worcestershire sauce: it is made with distilled white vinegar rather than malt vinegar. Remember malt vinegar contains gluten. You should confirm on the label whether your Worcestershire is actually free from any gluten.
b) Vegan Worcestershire sauce / Vegetarian Worcestershire sauce: This form of Worcestershire sauce is free from anchovies and to be sure, you should confirm on the displayed label. If you want to make your own at home then these are the ingredients you will need:
½ cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
¼ teaspoon of mustard powder
¼ teaspoon of minced ginger
¼ teaspoon of onion powder
A pinch of cinnamon
A dash of pepper
Just mix all of the above ingredients in a cooking pan and place it on a medium heat. Bring it to a boil and simmer it on lower heat for about 45 seconds. Allow it to cool down and now you can store it in a cool and dry place.
c) Cooking apples Worcestershire sauce: this is another option for the vegetarian Worcestershire sauce recipe. This one is a bit more sweet than sour. Use these ingredients and you will definitely love the final product.
3 pounds of cooking apples
2 pounds of brown sugar
1 gallon of malt vinegar
6 peeled garlic bulbs
4 tablespoons of salt
2 and a half tablespoons of cayenne powder
2 tablespoons of ground cloves
2 tablespoons of ground ginger
Mix all the ingredients in a crock pot and let them boil for one and a half hours. Remember to reduce the heat once it starts boiling and simmer for the entire duration. The mixture will turn to be soft and pulpy after about 90 minutes. You can now remove it from heat and blend it well. Put it in a clean glass bottle and put in a cool dry place. Give it a week or two for it to mature and become even tastier.
d) Low sodium: Lea and Perrins together with other brands produce versions in lower sodium. If you don’t like a lot of salt or on a low sodium diet it suits you perfectly.
Homemade Worcestershire sauce
Although the method of making your own Worcestershire sauce at is quite simple, you will require a number of ingredients to come up with the real Worcestershire sauce. There are the ingredients you will need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet onions, roughly chopped
1/2 cup tamarind paste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 jalapeños, seeds removed and minced
1/4 cup anchovies, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 whole cloves
2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup molasses
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup dark beer
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups water
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime thinly sliced
The procedure of making a homemade Worcestershire sauce
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan for about 7 minutes and sauté’ the onion until it is soft. Add the tamarind paste, garlic, ginger and jalapenos and cook for 5 minutes in a medium-low heat. Add the other remaining ingredients and stir them thoroughly to combine them. Bring them to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer. Ensure you stir from time to time. Do this for about 5 hours until you see that it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Now your sauce is ready and you strain it into a glass bottle or jar and put it in the refrigerator.
What is that one ingredient that is unique in Worcestershire sauce?
Tamarind is the ingredient that sets Worcestershire sauce apart from other brown sauces. The fruit of Tamarindus undica or Indian date resembles a bulbous brown pea pod and contains thick, sticky pulp which has a consistency of dates and a spicy date apricot flavor. You may have observed that it is referred to as tamarind seed in most recipes but what is actually used is only the pulp surrounding the seed.
Another unique character about tamarind fruit is that it contains more sugar than any other fruit although it is balanced by its high content of acid and that gives it a sweet/sour taste. This fruit can also be consumed in its raw state and it can also be in a dry form such as slices. It is important to note that you cannot achieve an authentic flavor without tamarind. Tamarind is also an ingredient in seasonings, curries, chutneys, various drinks and Worcestershire sauce. Tamarind is also used in a form drink to ease fevers.
Worcestershire sauce substitute
It takes several months of fermenting malt vinegar and mixing with the ingredients mentioned above before you get the final product of Worcestershire sauce. Having that information is good for you to see the importance of substitutes options you can actually use. Some of them may be new to you but they are equally good. However, you should bear in mind that there is no substitute or replacement mentioned below can substitute the taste and aroma of Worcestershire sauce.
a) Wine vinegar
Although it will not be exact of Worcestershire sauce, it will be closer to the original taste and flavor when you use wine vinegar and mix with fish sauce and salt. It is also good in barbecuing. You can use as a mixture or just wine vinegar alone. That sweet, but acidic taste will just be perfect with a shade lighter that Worcestershire sauce depending with your preference you can add more or less wine vinegar up to your taste preference.
b) Garlic powder
If you need sauce for a dip recipe, this recipe can work wonders since the original recipe also calls for garlic as well. To get the same taste in your dip as with Worcestershire sauce you will need one tablespoon of each garlic powder, lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, molasses, two pinches of sugar and some hot sauce.
c) Soy sauce
It will come in handy for all your marinades. Make a steak marinade and expect a different taste though you will like it. There are people who even prefer the taste of soy sauce for steak marinades.
d) Tamarind paste
Actually, this is one paste that is known to replace many sauces such as Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. You will need a teaspoon of tamarind paste, white vinegar, and soy sauce. Put them together in a blender and blend them. Add a pinch of ground cloves and hot pepper sauce. Most likely you will be impressed by the end results.
Did you think that sugar can be a substitute of Worcestershire sauce? It can and it is also very simple. To achieve this, you will need a ¼ teaspoon of sugar and 8 drops of hot tobacco sauce. Allow the sugar to dissolve in the sauce and the final results will be a perfect substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
f) Steak sauce
You need the same amount of steak sauce to replace Worcestershire for a marinade soup or stew delicacies. It works pretty well because steak sauce is a Worcestershire sauce variant.
g) Oyster sauce
This is another sauce to use as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce. However, it has an Indian flavor but if you don’t mind, then you are good to go. They are available in the supermarkets and Asian markets.
h) Fish sauce
Actually, fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce are quite similar since both of them are based on fermented fish. This means you can comfortably use equal parts of fish sauce as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce all will be well.
i) Smoke flavoring
If you are a newbie in the kitchen, this one may overwhelm you since it is a technique that is practiced by culinary experts. Smoke flavoring can be used for meat delicacies that require Worcestershire sauce. For good results, avoid letting your dish to char after using smoke flavoring since your fish could out to be bitter.
Now you have all the facts about Worcestershire sauce, its substitutes and even the method of coming up with your own homemade Worcestershire sauce that is equally sweeter and tastier. Go ahead and utilize the above recipes any time you are ready.
Later edit: I was asked about the Worcestershire sauce pronunciation… 😉 Well, the trick is the Worcestershire, of course. There are three syllables: “wuust” + “uh” + “shuh” / [‘wu:stəʃə]
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