Does Worcestershire sauce go bad?

No one in your house remembers buying a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, but there’s still one next to your fridge door. Maybe it was your annual summer barbecue, but that was a long time ago.

Now that you see it, you wonder: does Worcestershire sauce ever go bad?

If you are among the people who rarely use Worcestershire sauce, you may not be very familiar with this seasoning.

If you want to learn a bit about Worcestershire sauce storage, expiration, and spoilage, keep reading.

worcestershire sauce bottle

Does Worcestershire sauce need to be refrigerated?

Worcestershire sauce does not need to be refrigerated even after opening, but doing so helps the seasoning retain its quality for longer. In other words, it is not necessary to store it in the fridge, but it is a good idea if you want it to retain its quality for more than a year.

When it comes to storage, Worcestershire sauce is similar to high-sodium sauces such as soy sauce, fish sauce, and, to a lesser extent, oyster sauce.

That means you should store an unopened bottle in a cool, dry place. The pantry is the obvious choice, but a kitchen cabinet is fine too. Both options ensure that the bottle will be out of direct sunlight, which also helps a bit.

Once the bottle is opened, the most important thing is to always keep it tightly closed.

The question of whether Worcestershire needs to be refrigerated after opening it comes up quite often. The best answer I can think of is: it depends.

If you keep it in the fridge, it will retain its best quality for longer than if you keep it at room temperature. But if you’re going to use the contents of the bottle within 6-12 months, the method of storage won’t matter as much.

The main ingredients of Worcestershire sauce, such as vinegar, blackstrap molasses, or soy sauce, do not require refrigeration, so the sauce also keeps quite well at room temperature.

If you only use Worcestershire sauce occasionally and have no idea when you’ll run out of the bottle, store it in the fridge.
add worcestershire when making meatloaf

How long does Worcestershire sauce last?

Worcestershire sauce has a shelf life of 1.5-3 years and easily lasts well beyond the printed date. Once the jar is opened, the seasoning maintains its quality for about a year in the pantry and about 3 years in the fridge, but it is safe to use for much longer.

That means that even if your unopened bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce has been in the pantry for 5 years, in almost every case it will be perfectly fine.

Most bottles of this seasoning come with an expiration date. Normally, that period ranges from 18 months to 3 years. Obviously the sauce will remain good and of good quality for much longer if the bottle is unopened.

expiration date worcestershire

There really isn’t a good way to tell how long the sauce will last, because it doesn’t really go bad. Its quality degrades very slowly over time, so if you open a bottle that is 10 years old, it might not taste as good. The key here is “could”, because it could still be great. That is why some sources say that it lasts indefinitely.

Once you open the bottle, the sauce slowly starts to lose its quality. This means that over time its flavor flattens and dishes seasoned with it will no longer be as good as before.

Again, it’s impossible to pinpoint how long the bottle can stay open and still taste good. The general consensus is that it keeps best for 2-3 years, but that depends on the brand, the ingredients, and of course, your taste buds.

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

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

Does Worcestershire sauce go bad?

Worcestershire sauce doesn’t actually go bad, but it doesn’t retain its quality forever either. After being open in the pantry for a year or about 3 years in the fridge, you may notice that the texture, color or flavor changes. But you can continue using it if there are no signs of deterioration.

The sauce stays safe for a long time because most of its ingredients are natural preservatives. That is why it is unlikely that any type of bacteria would live and grow in such an environment.

Of course, sometimes strange things happen, so before you use the sauce that’s been sitting in your pantry or fridge for years in your next Caesar salad, give it a quick quiz.

If the sauce has developed an unpleasant odor (sour, off, or funny), or you’ve noticed any signs of mold, throw it away.

Worcestershire sediment in the neck

Another sign is when there is gas buildup. If the bottle is plastic, you will see that it appears to be swollen. Whether the bottle is plastic or glass, if the cap makes a loud “pop” when opened, as if it released a lot of pressure, it is a sign that gas has built up. The sauce is most likely spoiled and should be discarded. Again, it is highly unlikely that the above circumstances will occur.

Instead, what is 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 have to do is shake the bottle to dissolve it.

As I’ve already mentioned, the quality of Worcestershire sauce degrades over time. If you have a bottle that’s been open a long time and it seems fine, give it a try.

If the taste isn’t as good, you should probably throw it out for quality reasons. Bad-tasting seasonings often mean bad-tasting food, and you don’t want that. Of course, you can experiment with adding more Worcestershire sauce to fix the problem, but that doesn’t always help.

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