Worcestershire sauce is a beloved condiment that has been around for centuries. It’s a staple in many households and is used to add flavor to a variety of dishes.
However, there’s been some confusion about whether or not Worcestershire sauce contains alcohol. Some people have even claimed to get drunk from drinking it!
In this article, we’ll explore the truth behind Worcestershire sauce and alcohol. We’ll also provide some alcohol-free alternatives for those who prefer to avoid it.
So, let’s dive in and find out if Worcestershire sauce really does have alcohol!
Does Worcestershire Sauce Have Alcohol?
Yes, Worcestershire sauce does contain alcohol. The sauce is made from a blend of vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, and garlic. The anchovies used in the sauce are fermented in salt and water, which produces a small amount of alcohol.
The amount of alcohol in Worcestershire sauce is very low, usually less than 1%. This means that it’s unlikely that you’ll get drunk from drinking Worcestershire sauce alone. However, if you consume a large amount of the sauce, you may feel some effects from the alcohol.
It’s also important to note that some people may be allergic to the anchovies in Worcestershire sauce. If you have a fish allergy or are a vegetarian or vegan, you may want to avoid Worcestershire sauce altogether.
What Is Worcestershire Sauce?
Worcestershire sauce is a fermented condiment that originated in England in the 1830s. It is made from a blend of vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, and garlic. The sauce has a savory and sweet flavor with a distinct tang provided by the vinegar. It is known for its punchy umami flavor, which comes from the anchovies used in the sauce.
The recipe for the original version of Worcestershire sauce was a closely guarded secret until 2009 when an alleged ingredient list was discovered in a factory trash pile. The list included water, cloves, soy, fish sauce, vinegar, tamarind, and pickles, among other ingredients. The sauce is similar to garum, a fish sauce that was integral to the kitchens of antiquity.
The amount of alcohol in Worcestershire sauce is very low, usually less than 1%. The anchovies used in the sauce are fermented in salt and water, which produces a small amount of alcohol. While it’s unlikely that you’ll get drunk from drinking Worcestershire sauce alone, consuming a large amount of the sauce may cause some effects from the alcohol.
The History Of Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the early 19th century. The sauce was created in Worcester, England in 1835 by two chemists named John Lea and William Perrins. The story goes that a nobleman named Lord Sandys, who had recently returned to England after successfully governing Bengal, India for many years, commissioned the chemists to create a sauce that would replicate his favorite Indian sauce. The original intent of the chemists was to keep some of the batch to sell in their store, but the fish and vegetable mixture had such a strong odor that they decided otherwise and stored it in the cellar. It lay forgotten for two years until it was rediscovered during a clean-up mission. The batch had aged into a wonderfully flavored sauce which was bottled and quickly became a hot item with customers.
The sauce was initially marketed on British ocean liners, where it gained popularity among passengers. Lea and Perrins’ aggressive marketing strategy, which included advertising the sauce as the favorite recipe of a nobleman with good taste, helped to sell the sauce even further. However, the identity of this nobleman remains unknown to this day.
Despite its popularity, Worcestershire sauce faced some challenges in its early years. In 1851, a rival company called Henderson’s Relish began producing a similar sauce in Sheffield, England. The two companies have been competing ever since, with fans of each brand fiercely loyal to their preferred sauce.
Today, Worcestershire sauce is enjoyed all over the world and is used as a condiment or ingredient in a variety of dishes. Its unique flavor profile makes it a popular addition to meat and fish dishes, as well as cocktails like the Bloody Mary. While its origins may be shrouded in mystery, there’s no denying that Worcestershire sauce has become an iconic part of culinary history.
The Ingredients In Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is a complex sauce with a unique flavor profile. The sauce is made from a blend of different ingredients that are fermented individually, blended together, and then fermented again. The following are the key ingredients that make up Worcestershire sauce:
1. Vinegars: Worcestershire sauce is based on barley malt vinegar with spirit vinegar. These vinegars provide the acidic component of the sauce.
2. Molasses: Molasses provides a sweet and rich flavor to the sauce. It’s a byproduct of sugar production and is often used as a sweetener in cooking.
3. Sugar: Sugar is added to Worcestershire sauce to balance out the acidity of the vinegars and the saltiness of the anchovies.
4. Salt: Salt is added to Worcestershire sauce for flavor and to help preserve the sauce.
5. Anchovies: Anchovies are a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, providing a savory and umami flavor. They are fermented in salt and water, which produces a small amount of alcohol.
6. Tamarind extract: Tamarind extract provides a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to Worcestershire sauce.
7. Onions: Onions add depth and complexity to the flavor profile of Worcestershire sauce.
8. Garlic: Garlic provides a pungent and slightly sweet flavor to the sauce.
9. Spices and Flavorings: Worcestershire sauce contains a seasoning mixture that can include spices like coriander, mustard seed, cloves, or pepper, as well as citrus peel. These spices and flavorings add complexity and depth to the sauce.
It’s important to note that some brands of Worcestershire sauce may contain soy sauce or other ingredients like corn syrup or caramel color. If you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies, be sure to check the label before consuming Worcestershire sauce.
Can You Get Drunk From Worcestershire Sauce?
While it’s technically possible to get drunk from Worcestershire sauce, it’s highly unlikely. As mentioned above, the amount of alcohol in the sauce is very low, usually less than 1%. This means that you would need to consume a large amount of Worcestershire sauce to feel any effects from the alcohol.
In fact, there have been some humorous stories about people trying to get drunk off of Worcestershire sauce. One man was even arrested for public intoxication and claimed that he was high from drinking Worcestershire sauce. Other people have claimed to feel tipsy after consuming large amounts of the sauce, but this is likely due to the high sodium content rather than the alcohol.
Alcohol-free Alternatives To Worcestershire Sauce
If you’re looking for an alcohol-free alternative to Worcestershire sauce, there are a few options available. Here are some substitutes that you can try out:
1. Coconut Aminos: This is a popular substitute for soy sauce and it’s perfect if you want an alcohol-free option. Made from fermented and heavily salted coconut palm sap, coconut aminos offer umami flavors while being a bit sweet and salty.
2. Kikkoman Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce: This is the perfect alternative for people who want soy sauce without alcohol or gluten. While gluten-free Kikkoman still goes through a fermentation process, it does not contain any wheat. Therefore, there will be no alcohol present in the soy sauce.
3. Non-Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce: This type of soy sauce contains sodium benzoate, corn syrup, water, hydrolyzed soy protein, and salt, so there is no wheat to ferment. Moreover, it does not go through the same fermentation process as regular soy sauce.
4. Worcestershire Sauce: While Worcestershire sauce is also a fermented sauce, it does not contain any wheat. Therefore, there will be no alcohol after the fermentation process. Worcestershire works as a good alternative since it still has umami and salty flavors like soy sauce. However, it has more distinct flavors, so it is not a perfect substitute.
When using these alternatives, feel free to experiment and adjust the taste as necessary. You can always add red chili pepper flakes or hot sauce if you feel the substitution is missing an element of heat, or you can always add some citrus if it is missing something tangy.