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What Exactly Is Worcestershire Sauce, Anyway?

A person holds up a bottle of Worcestershire sauce.
BalkansCat/Shutterstock.com

You’ve seen it used in recipes and even watched as it’s tossed into your Bloody Mary. When it comes down to it, does anyone really know what Worcestershire sauce is?

Actually, yes, Worcestershire has many purposes, but it’s the complexity of flavor that often makes people confused about its purpose in recipes.

Worcestershire sauce was created all the way back in 1835 by two chemists Lea and Perrins (yes, of the brand). It’s a fermented condiment with a vinegar base and flavored with, well, a lot of things, including anchovies and molasses. Yes, we know that sounds strange.

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire

Gave some of the condiment for your next marinade.

The key ingredient in the condiment, though, is tamarind. It’s created from an Indian date. Worcestershire sauce is created from the pulp inside the pod. That’s what gives it the spicy but sweet flavor.

What’s Worcestershire sauce good for, though? It’s designed to add umami flavor to a dish. Umami means good flavor in Japanese and is often associated with meaty, savory tastes. Basically, it can be used on anything that you want to amp up that umami taste. Think marinades for beef, hearty stews, and grilled veggies.

The next time you’re making a Bloody Mary or tossing a bit of the sauce into a marinade, now, you’ll know why.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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