No one in your household remembers buying a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, but yet there’s still one on the side of your refrigerator door. Maybe it was from your annual summer barbecue, but that was so long ago! Does Worcestershire sauce go bad, and how long will it last for?
Does Worcestershire sauce go bad?
While Worcestershire sauce can eventually go bad, many of the ingredients of this condiment are natural preservatives, and so it will last for quite a long time under proper conditions. An unopened bottle of Worcestershire sauce can be stored pretty much indefinitely in a cool dark place, like your pantry or cellar. Once opened, Worcestershire sauce can be kept in your pantry for two to three years.
While three years is the general consensus for food safety reasons, some sources note that Worcestershire sauce actually gets better with age (some brands are already aged for up to two years before bottling). Worcestershire enthusiasts have even claimed that you can keep a bottle of Worcestershire sauce for up to twelve years!
Signs of Spoilage
Because of its long shelf life, it’s easy to forget that the Worcestershire sauce is even in your pantry, which can lead to a degradation in quality. A change in color, or appearance will indicate that the sauce’s quality has declined, but does not necessarily indicate spoilage. Worcestershire sauce will likely have a layer of sediment at the bottom of the bottle – this is also perfectly normal, and the bottle will simply need to be shaken before use.
Image used under Creative Commons from mechnine
If Worcestershire sauce begins to smell sour or unpleasant, it has likely spoiled and should be discarded. Any sign of mold in the bottle indicates that the sauce has gone bad, and should not be consumed. Another sign that your bottle of Worcestershire sauce may have gone bad, is if there is a buildup of gas. If the bottle is plastic, you will notice that it appears to be puffy. Whether the bottle is plastic or glass, if the lid makes a loud “pop” when opening, as if releasing a lot of pressure, this is a sign that gas has built up. The sauce is most likely spoiled, and should be discarded.
As Worcestershire sauce itself is so stable and naturally preserved, any spoilage is most likely due to outside contaminants from improper storage. It’s important to seal Worcestershire sauce tightly, and to avoid cleaning the inside of the lid with a damp towel, as this can introduce extra moisture and bacteria. Keeping Worcestershire sauce in a cool environment is also important, so be sure that it’s not in the cabinet right above your stove, or refrigerator, where the temperatures tend to be a bit warmer.
Extending the Shelf Life
As Worcestershire sauce already has such a long shelf life, freezing it does not make much sense at all. The texture and taste will likely be fine after thawing, but freezing won’t extend the shelf life, and will likely shorten it.
Storing Worcestershire sauce in your refrigerator may help to preserve its taste and texture for a longer period of time, and will certainly prevent mold and bacteria growth. Worcestershire sauce stored in the fridge will be safe pretty much indefinitely, so this is certainly the best storage method for this condiment. Of course, if you’re short on space in the fridge, or wish to take that bottle of Worcestershire sauce along for a camping trip, a cool dark place will also keep the sauce tasty and unspoiled for years.