Ok so when I was young I often wondered….was there a Mr Worcestershire who made up this strange concoction which my flat-mate once deemed integral to her cooking?
For all those who always wondered about Worcestershire sauce….here’s the scoop!
Hill, Evans and Co was founded by two
Worcester chemists in 1830 and for the next century was the biggest vinegar works of its kind in the world. At one time they were famous for having the world’s largest vat being 40 ft high and able to contain114821 gallons.
It also produced many types of British wine such as raisin, gooseberry, orange, cherry, cowslip, elderberry and ginger, as well as fortified wines such as port and sherry. They also produced Robert Waters original Quinine wine, which was sent to the colonies as quinine acted as a defence against malaria.
Hill, Evans and Co. went on expanding throughout the 20th century buying up large amounts of property throughout Lowesmoor and
St Martin’s Gate, increasing the site to six acres. The company ceased trading in 1965, however many of the buildings still remain part of the estate. Future redevelopment is currently being discussed for the site.
By the early 20th century the firm was producing two million gallons of malt vinegar per year which was sold all over the world. Lea and Perrins. Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce is perhaps the city’s most famous product. It was first produced in
Worcester by two chemists, John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins, and went on sale in 1837. It is still produced in the city today, although the origin of the recipe remains a mystery.
Labels from the earliest bottles include the message: “..from the recipe of a nobleman of the county”. The story goes that this was Lord Sandys, a local aristocrat who had been Governor of Bengal. In 1835, Lord Sandys visited the shop of John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins asking for a recipe he had found in
India to be made up. Lea and Perrins made an extra jar for themselves, but found they did not like the concoction and stored it in the cellar. Some time later they retasted the preparation to discover it was delicious.
Although today the ingredients are listed the exact recipe has never been revealed and remains a closely guarded secret by a handful of Lea and Perrins employees. Worcestershire Sauce – The Rivals. Lea and Perrins has not been the only Worcestershire sauce to be made. Its early success encouraged other firms to copy the recipe in competition. In 1906, Lea and Perrins took legal action against a
Birmingham sauce manufacturer called Holbrooks, to try and restrict the use of the name “Worcestershire Sauce”. The court decided that the name could be used by anyone, but only Lea and Perrins had the right to call theirs ‘Original and Genuine.’ Sauces were particularly popular during the 19th and 20th centuries as they gave flavour to otherwise plain food and helped tenderise tough cuts of meat. They were also useful for disguising the flavour of foods that were past their best.