- Worcestershire sauce is made using three main ingredients, anchovies, red onions and garlic.
- Each ingredient is left to mature between 18-24 months before being used.
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Insider visited the Lea & Perrins factory to see how Worcestershire sauce is made.
It has been making the sauce for nearly 200 years.
The sauce was made by chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins in 1835, and was originally a failure due to its horrendous taste.
The pair left the sauce in their chemist basement, came back to it a few years later and had decided to taste it again.
To their amazement, they found out that the sauce had aged into wonderful tasting condiment and is now what we know today as Worcestershire sauce.
We took a tour of the factory to see how its made and why it’s so popular.
Follow is a transcript of the video.
Claudia Romeo: Hello, today we’re in the West Midlands of England in Worcester, the home of Lea & Perrins, and we’re going to see how they make their famous Worcestershire sauce. We’re going to learn about its history and origin, what makes it so popular here in the UK and of course, taste it.
What is Worcester Sauce?
Claudia: Worcester sauce is a condiment made through a long-established maturing process with malt and spirit vinegar, molasses, red onions, garlic, anchovies, tamarind and secret seasoning. The sauce can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, used to complement steaks, bolognese, cocktails such as a Bloody Mary, and a British favourite, cheese on toast.
But how did this famous sauce come into existence here in the West Midlands?
Nigel Dickie, Manager: Lea and Perrins are steeped in over 180 years of history. The story starts in 1835 with Lord Sandys, who was a nobleman of this county. He had been travelling in the far-east and picked up a recipe for a sauce which he loved it so much he brought it back to Worcester and wanted it made up. He turned to a couple of entrepreneur chemists, Mr. Lea and Mr. Perrins, who owned a chemist shop in the centre of Worcester in Broad Street. So he gave them the recipe, Lea and Perrins got the ingredients from around the world and the made-up the sauce, and you know what? It tasted AWFUL!
Lord Sandys never returned, and Lea and Perrins put this mixture in a jar, put it in the basement of their chemist shop and didn’t return to it until a couple of years afterwards when they tried it and it matured into this wonderful elixir. And so started the global fame of Lea and Perrins into what it is today.
Claudia: After discovering their newfound popular sauce, the pair began selling it from their Broad Street chemist shop, which was quickly becoming popular with locals in the area. Lea and Perrins then relocated to a new factory in Worcester in 1897, where the sauce is still made today.”
Making of process
Paul Nicholls – Site Manager: So at the site here in Worcester we produce L&P in glass bottles. 70-80% of what we do is L&P, which equates to 43 million bottles a year, so quite a lot of volume. Depending on the bottle size we can run anything from 2 and a half tons per hour to 5-6 tons per hour in terms of productive sauce.
Claudia: Paul escorted us around the factory showing us the making process. We started in the basement, where hundreds of barrels sit quietly maturing the Worcester Sauce ingredients, just like it did over 100 years ago.
Paul: We’ve got some red onions here that have been pickling for about 9-10 months. We still got the whole red skin onion, but even though it’s keeping its colour its changed from a very hard vegetable to being a bit mushy. And its the process of breaking down this vegetable that creates this lovely juice that comes out that gives us that lovely flavour.
Claudia: The same process is done with whole garlic cloves, which also sit in a barrel of malt vinegar to pickle for 18-months.
But one of the more interesting ingredients sitting in these barrels are anchovies, and there are lots of them. The fish which are captured and sent from Spain, aged in 200kg of salt for 2 years, which help bring out the base flavour for the sauce.
Claudia: After the ingredients have finished maturing, they then go to the “making house”, where they’re mixed together. The garlic, onions, anchovies and salt are added into this 5,000 litre tank. It then goes to the maturation storage area, where the ingredients are transferred and held in a larger 30,000-litre tank for a minimum of 6 weeks, adding more ingredients, including their secret spices, further enhancing the maturing process.
Once complete, the sauce then goes to the final stage where it gets pasteurized. The sauce first goes through this holding tank here before heading to the heat exchanger, which preheats the sauce for around 2 minutes, then cools it again before sending it to bottling.
It’s finally time to try the Worcestershire sauce. One thing to keep in mind is that this sauce is basically everything that I hate. I’m not a big of vinegar, anchovies, garlic, onions, and all these strong, strong flavors.
I think the winning point in here is that you don’t taste the fish. I could never tell that there is fish in here. I can taste the vinegar and the garlic and the onions. You know, like, if you compare this to, like, the standard vinegar that you have on the market, this will taste more like a balsamic vinegar because it has some sweet notes.
I have made a very sad-looking cheese on toast, so what we’ve done here is we put a little bit of the Lea & Perrins sauce just on top of the cheese before putting this onto the grill. Oh, yeah, there is sauce in here. I think this one is a very good option. The sauce actually elevates it. So, overall, not for me, but it’s still a great sauce.