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5 more Caviar Questions & Answers from Caspian Caviar

My last blog with 5 Questions & Answers all about caviar went down rather well, so here are another 5 Questions and Answers covering other aspects of caviar.

  1. Are there any traditions to eating caviar? (such as tableware, etc)

Yes. Caviar is traditionally served on ice. This leads some people to believe that if it is not ice cold at all times, it will immediately go off. This is not the case. It is served on ice as it tastes best that way. Try it at room temperature and you will see what I mean.

The other quirk when serving caviar is that metal spoons should not be used. Caviar spoons are normally made of Mother-of-Pearl or horn. This is not due to tradition, but for the good reason that caviar reacts to metal and quickly becomes tainted. Gold does not have this affect. It is worth noting that metal caviar tins do not spoil caviar as they have a plastic veneer.

  1. Why does caviar cost so much compared to fish?

The main reason is the lead in time before production can actually take place. The smaller sturgeon species will not produce caviar until they are 7-8 years old. The larger the fish, the longer it takes, with Beluga not producing caviar until c18 years of age.

Then there is the good old supply & demand graph. When wild stocks collapsed, the supply was very limited and prices were very high. Now that there is more and more farmed caviar on the market, prices have eased considerably.

  1. Is there such thing as vegetarian/vegan caviar?

Strictly speaking, no. Caviar should refer only to sturgeon roe, although I don’t mind it being applied to other fish roe provided that it is clearly labelled. However, applying the name to some mashed up vegetative matter is going too far.

For some reason, several people have thought it to be a good idea to manufacture “vegetarian caviar” using the spherification process and normally seaweed gum. At best the results are inoffensive. At worst, they are revolting. If you can imagine a half-digested jelly baby covered in salt, you will get the gist.

  1. What drinks pair well with caviar?

Neat iced vodka and champagne immediately spring to mind, with the former being my preference. A clean, crisp dry white wine also works well. Cold, crisp lager can also work, which surprises people.

Whatever your preference, the drink should clear the palate between mouthfuls of caviar. It should not leave a flavor in the mouth which will compete with the caviar flavour.

  1. How long does caviar keep for?

Caviar will keep for much longer than many people realise. The exact length of time will depend on the salt content, additional preservative, tin size and fridge temperature. Caviar prepared in the Russian style will contain Borax, which preserves and further enhances the flavour.

It keeps best in large tins in our specialist fridges which run at around -2C. It will not freeze due to the salt content. Pasteurised caviar can keep for much longer, but the “cooking” process tends to degrade the caviar.

A domestic fridge will normally be running at around +5C, so I recommend that caviar is kept for no more than 4 weeks in a domestic fridge. It should be stored at the back of the fridge, where it is coldest. It should not be stored in the door, where it will be subject to temperature changes every time the door is opened. Ideally it should be stored domestically for as short a time as possible. Why take the risk of it degrading even fractionally?

Caviar should not be frozen as the eggs will burst and go to mush. Once a tin is opened, it should be refrigerated and finished within 48 hours. The eggs wont suddenly go off, but they will begin to dry out and go crunchy, which is not very nice.


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