Worcester(shire) sauce like you’ve never tasted before. Uses for Worcester sauce that you could never even imagine. That’s what you’ll encounter when you stop at Miss J.L. Hall’s Worcester Sauces stall at the Pure Boland Market (or any wine, olive, cheese and meat festival around the Western Cape and beyond).
Each drop is packed with flavour: fruity yet spicy; deliciously savoury with a touch of sweetness. No preservatives, no artificial flavours, no gluten, MSG or fat. Tested for nutritional value and tested for shelf life. A class of its own.
And behind this successful range of sauces, is a woman who once designed textiles for a living.
Designing textiles and developing Worcester sauce seem like two completely different things. But, says Johanna Hall of Miss J.L. Hall’s Worcester Sauce, they’re both creative processes. And she’s a creative.
Years ago Johanna had left her home in England to take a position as design manager at Hextex. Then came the financial crisis of 2008 and the rise in imported textiles. Johanna’s job was one of the casualties of the crisis, forcing her to search for a new source of income.
A chance discovery of a recipe for Worcestershire sauce – which she’s always loved because of her English heritage – made her sit up. She tried it and tweaked it until she felt that it adhered to her standards and carried her stamp. And she knew she was onto something great when the last drop of “Worcester sauce from Worcester” sold out at the first market she attended.
Her background in the textile industry helped her do proper costings and setting up a supply chain, and soon her kitchen was a mini production house and her home office a distribution centre. Her range has since expanded to eight varieties. And she currently supplies to more than 30 stockists in the Western Cape alone, and sends shipments as far as Mpumalanga. “We haven’t been knocking on any doors,” says Johanna. “Business came to us. And it wasn’t long before this was driving me; not me driving it.”
But she still does as many markets as she can, and the Pure Boland Market on the first Saturday of every month, is her anchor market. She has much appreciation for the way the owner, Tharina Jonker has grown the Groenstoor. “Tharina’s effort really paid off. The foot traffic is incredible! And it’s important to us that people can taste our sauces.”
What is Worcester sauce, and what can you do with it?
Johanna calls it the most versatile condiment in the kitchen. After tasting her sauces, you’ll know why she does.
Worcestershire sauce is traditionally a sweetened but spicy vinegar-based sauce, used as a flavour enhancer in savoury dishes. But Johanna’s specially developed range has much more to offer: Original; No Chilli; Extra Chilli; Bliksemstraal; With Tomato; Curried; Smoked. There’s even a Basting/Salad Dressing version with extra virgin olive oil.
The naturally fermented vinegar takes a backseat to make the fruit and spices shine in all Johanna’s sauces. And she has a great many ideas that she gladly shares with any passers-by at her stall: The no-chilli version on steak; the original version in soups and stews; the extra-chilli sauce as sushi dip or on oysters; the sauce with tomato with your breakfast…
Her meticulous research of suppliers ensured that she can label her products as containing no preservatives, no artificial flavours, no gluten or MSG. It is also suitable for vegans. The nutritional value is stated on the label thanks to laboratory analyses, and the shelf life of two years have been tested as well.
Still, the taste is what convinces shoppers to fork out money, and that is why Johanna is working as hard as she does. “There’s a Worcester sauce price war. To be out there in the market place the whole time is very important.”
Enough customers have fallen in love with Johanna’s products that she can supply countrywide through stockists and her website (an important distribution channel, she says). And in terms of production, Johanna has reached full capacity at home. She’s busy setting up a boutique production unit elsewhere (“but the product integrity will still be there!) and she hasn’t run out of ideas.
So do yourself a favour and taste Miss J.L. Hall’s Worcester Sauce at your next visit to the Pure Boland Market. You’ll want to find ways to use it in your kitchen!
• For more information about the Pure Boland Market, click here.