Does Worcestershire Sauce Go Bad?

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?

If you’re among the people who use Worcestershire sauce sparingly, you might not be that familiar with this condiment. If you would like to learn a bit about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of Worcestershire sauce, read on.

How To Store Worcestershire Sauce

You should store Worcestershire sauce the same way you store other high-sodium sauces, such as soy sauce. That means you should keep an unopened bottle in a cool and dry place. The pantry is the obvious choice, but a cabinet in the kitchen is just fine too. Both these options guarantee that the bottle will sit away from sunlight, which also helps a bit.

Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce
Image used under Creative Commons from mechnine

Once you open the bottle, the most important thing is always to keep it sealed tightly. The question of whether you need to refrigerate Worcestershire after opening comes up fairly often. The best answer I can come up with is: it depends. If you store it in the fridge, it will retain the best quality for a longer period than if you keep it at room temperature. But if you will use the contents of the bottle within 6 to 12 months, the storage method won’t make that big of a deal. Main ingredients of Worcestershire sauce, such as vinegar, blackstrap molasses, or soy sauce don’t need refrigeration, so the sauce keeps quite well at room temperature too. If you use Worcestershire sauce only from time to time and have no idea when you will finish the bottle, keep in the fridge.

How Long Does Worcestershire Sauce Last

Worcestershire sauce has a really long shelf life. So even if your unopened bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce sits in the pantry for 5 years already, in almost all cases, it will be perfectly fine.

Most bottles of this condiment come with a best-by date. Usually, the time period falls somewhere between 18 months and 3 years. Obviously, the sauce will stay fine and of good quality for much longer if the bottle is unopened. There’s actually no good way to determine how long will the sauce last because it doesn’t really go bad. Its quality degrades very slowly with time, so if you open a bottle that’s 10 years old, the taste might not be that great. The key word here is “might” because just as well it could turn out great. That’s the reason some sources say it lasts indefinitely.

Once you open the bottle, the sauce starts to lose its quality slowly. That means that with time its taste flattens and the dishes flavored with it won’t be as good as they used to. Again, it’s complicated to point out precisely how long the bottle can sit opened and still taste good. The general consensus is that it stays best for about 2 – 3 years, but that depends on the brand, ingredients, and of course your taste buds.

Pantry Fridge
Worcestershire sauce (unopened) Best by + 5 years
Worcestershire sauce (opened) 1 year 3 years

Please note that the time periods above are for best quality only. Worcestershire sauce, if stored properly, will last for much longer.

Does Worcestershire Sauce Go Bad

As mentioned before, Worcestershire sauce doesn’t usually go bad. Most of its ingredients are natural preservatives, so it’s challenging for any kind of bacteria to live in such an environment.

Of course, strange things sometimes happen, so before you use the sauce that’s been sitting in the fridge for ages in your next Caesar salad, give it a quick exam. If the sauce has developed an unpleasant (sour, off, or funny) smell, or you have noticed any signs of mold, discard it. Another sign is if there is a buildup of gas. If the bottle is plastic, you will see 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. Again, the mentioned circumstances are very unlikely to happen.

What’s very likely to happen is that you will notice a layer of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. That’s perfectly normal and all you need to do is to shake the bottle to dissolve it.

As I already mentioned, Worcestershire sauce degrades in quality over time. If you have a bottle that’s opened for a long time and seems to be fine, give it a taste. If the taste isn’t that great, you probably need to discard it for quality purposes. Bad-tasting condiments usually mean bad-tasting meal, and you don’t want that. Of course, you can experiment with adding more Worcestershire sauce to fix the issue, but that won’t always help.