All about Caviar


Caviar, the very word bespeaks luxury. The finest is among the world's most expensive foods, but other kinds offer good taste at all price levels

True caviar is made from roe (eggs) of sturgeon. The roe of other fish, such as salmon and whitefish, can also be prepared like caviar. After separation from connective membrame, the eggs are firmed by salt or brine into sparkling beads of various colors, sizes and textures.

For many years, costly Russian and Iranian caviar has dominated the market. As imported caviar prices rose the American industry, once larger than Russia's, revived.

A small amount of pacific strugeon caviar is available in many west coast specialty markets. Atlantic sturgeon provide large amounts to the east coast. Fresh whitefish caviar, sold as golden caviar, is from the Great Lakes.

Types of Caviar.

Caviar is sold fresh, frozen, or pasteurized (in jars).

Sturgeon caviar.

Imported caviars are usually identified by the variety (beluga, osetrova, sevruga) and the processing method (malossol means lightly salted). The roe varies in size and is gray to black. Domestic caviars may be labeled as Pacific, Atlantic, or American sturgeon.

Top quality bulk or vacuum-packed fresh roe, the most costly, sets the standards; it has a subtle saline flavor without tasting fishy. Its texture is soft but not limp, and the plump, round eggs tumble apart gently. Sturgeon caviar pasteurized in jars is about a third the price of fresh. Pressed sturgeon caviar, comparable in price and also pasteurized, is made of broken eggs and has a jamlike consistency.

Salmon Caviar.
Alaska and Pacific Northwest salmon caviar, much less costly than sturgeon caviar, ranges in color from light orange to bright red and is available fresh in bulk or pasteurized in jars, the eggs are very large.

Whitefish Caviar.
This caviar, delicate but with a decided crunch, is available fresh or frozen in its natural golden color, or pasteurized in jars and dyed to simulate sturgeon or salmon caviar. Whitefish caviar from the Great Lakes, fresh or frozen, is priced comparably to salmon caviar. Pasteurized, it cost about half as much.

Lumpfish Caviar.
Usually imported from Iceland, this pasteurized caviar is dyed to resemble sturgeon caviar and is comparable in taste, texture, and price to pasteurized whitefish caviar.

Storing Caviar.

Store fresh and vacuum-packed caviar, tightly covered, in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Bulk caviar should be used within 2 to 3 days. Fresh whitfish caviar can be stored for up to 10 days. After opening, tightly cover pasteurized caviars and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

To reduce salt and dye content, rinse dyed whitefish and lumpfish caviar in a fine wire strainer under cold running water until fairly clear, should take about 3 minutes. then drain, cover, and refrigerate.

Serving Caviar

Serve Caviar

Caviar on Toast

An ounce of caviar is a generous serving. By using it as a finishing touch, you can stretch it much further.

The classic way to serve sturgeon caviar is on thin white toast or black bread with a few drops of lemon juice. Embellishments include sour cream, chopped green onions or chives, and mashed hard cooked eggs. Serve other caviars similarly, adding fresh dill to the topping selection.

How to know that the caviar is fresh?

The grains should fall apart (unless it's pressed caviar) immediately.
No color should come off, they must be very shiny, not dull and without the smell or taste of fish that would mask the nuttiness of the caviar.
Serve in a glass bowl, on crushed ice, this delicacy should always be eaten cold.