In this article, we will be exploring Worcestershire sauce, what makes up a typical Worcestershire sauce and what makes it or doesn’t make it gluten-free. So, in short, we will be answering the question, is Worcestershire sauce gluten-free?
What is Worcestershire sauce?
Worcestershire sauce is British in origin, getting its name from the county it was invented in. The shortened name Worcester is again taken from the sauces origination this time from the city of Worcester. Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid that is a complex mixture of a variety of ingredients.
The Pharmacy of Lea & Perrins first mixed the recipe for Worcestershire sauce, and it was considered to be inedible due to the resulting product being overly strong, it was deemed so bad that it was abandoned in the basement.
It was discovered a few years later by Lea & Perrins where they discovered the sauce had fermented and mellowed to something more palatable, creating the start of the modern Worcestershire sauce.
So what are the essential ingredients that makeup Worcestershire sauce exactly?
The essential ingredients that make up the sauce are barley malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions and also garlic. However, companies are known for deviating from the traditional recipe by adding their own spices to improve and modify the overall taste.
These factors mentioned above may affect overall whether a Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free so be careful and check the back of the bottle! For the sake of this article, let’s stick to what makes a traditional Worcestershire sauce.
Your typical traditional Worcestershire Sauce has one big red flag in its ingredients list. This ingredient is the barley malt vinegar. Barley, much like wheat, rye, and their various hybrids and derivatives contains gluten. It makes it easily unsuitable for those who live with the various gluten-related disorders such as celiac disease or even wheat allergy, or for those who follow a gluten-free lifestyle.
While some processes such as distillation can remove the gluten from the barley itself, Worcestershire sauce itself is only made through fermentation. This process means any brand that follows the traditional recipe for Worcestershire sauce will in fact NOT be gluten-free and should be steered clear from, but this does not mean all Worcestershire sauce is not gluten-free, as there happen to be alternatives.
Does that mean all Worcestershire sauce is off limits?
Not all companies follow the standard traditional Worcestershire sauce recipe and lucky for those who need to follow a gluten-free lifestyle this is a great thing. Lea and Perris for example swap out barley malt vinegar and spirit vinegar for distilled white vinegar. Removing the barley malt vinegar of course strips out the gluten-packed part of the sauce.
So is Worcestershire sauce gluten-free?
The answer to the question, is Worcestershire sauce gluten-free? Is both yes and no. The more traditional Worcestershire sauces rely heavily on an ingredient called barley malt vinegar, barley being a big sauce of gluten. However not all brands and recipes follow the same ingredients, and some brands have swapped out various ingredients to ensure that it is gluten-free.
The best way to check if the brand your using is gluten-free is to read the ingredients label and check for anything that makes use of anything that contains gluten. Another thing to be careful of is that you can’t trust the internet to find brands that are gluten-free. For example, some brands are gluten-free in some countries but not in others. It’s a weird situation but something that many people would not be keeping an eye out for.
If you’re looking for where you buy some gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, then you can find some over at Amazon or some local supermarkets.
I hope this guide has helped with understanding why Worcestershire sauce is or isn’t gluten-free. If you have your own thoughts, opinions, feedback or anything else that you would love to share, then please leave a comment below.