everything you want to know about caviar but were afraid to ask
What is the difference between American and Imported caviar?
There are 26 different species of sturgeon found all over the world, only a handful of them are harvested for caviar and they each have their own distinct characteristics. Until recently, imported caviar most likely meant it came from the Caspian Sea, Black Sea or the rivers of Siberia or China, and has always been thought of as more prestigious than domestic caviar.
Nowadays, with the emergence of sturgeon aquaculture farms, farmed imported caviar comes from France, Germany, Italy, Uruguay and Israel to name a few.
In the last decade, American caviar is winning the praise of caviar connoisseurs. At the turn of the 20th Century America was the leading producer of the world’s caviar. Overfishing lead to an indefinite ban on wild caviar production and it was not until the success of white sturgeon aquaculture in the 70’s that quality domestic caviar was once again a possibility. In addition, native to the U.S., hackleback and paddlefish, the distant cousins of sturgeon, produces what is considered by many to be premium caviar and comparable to imported varieties.
Why can’t I use metal when serving caviar?
Metal reacts with the caviar and imparts an off flavor. Traditionally Mother-of-Pearl spoons are used but other materials that work perfectly and stylishly are wood, bone, glass, and gold.
What wines go best with caviar?
Champagne is always a safe bet to pair with caviar, although there are many different styles of champagne and sparkling wines and some pair better than others with different caviars. Typically we like the blanc de blanc style with the creamier caviars such as osetra and blanc de Noir style pairs best with the more briny caviars such as paddlefish.
What is the difference between farmed and wild caviar?
The most important difference between farm raised and wild caviar is that caviar that is farm raised is a sustainable option to wild in that it and reduces strain on wild sturgeon populations. Today the situation in the Caspian Sea is dire and some scientists have predicted that if over-fishing and pollution of the sturgeon’s natural habitat are not curtailed, the sturgeon faces extinction.
Farmed caviar is not only better for the sturgeon species but it is also better for you as most farmed caviar is harvested in fresh water sources, as opposed to polluted oceans and rivers. As a result, the flavor profiles of farmed caviar can be milder due to a number of controlled factors such as water source, feed, farm and production techniques.
Are there health benefits to caviar?
Caviar is a highly concentrated source of nutrients. One serving of caviar has an adult’s daily requirement of Vitamin B12. It is a great source of protein and has high levels of vitamins A, E, B6, Iron, Magnesium and Selenium. These nutrients have proven to benefit healthy nervous, circulatory and immune systems as well as combat cancer and heart disease. In addition, it is great for your skin. Many cosmetic companies are using caviar oils in face creams and cleansers to improve skin’s texture and elasticity.
How long will my caviar last?
Unopened and refrigerated, your caviar will last 4-6 weeks. Once you open it and expose it to air, you should eat it within 4 days. To insure the best shelf life of your caviar, store it on ice or a frozen ice pack while in the refrigerator to keep it extra cold.
What should I serve with my caviar?
We are purists and think that the simpler the better when serving caviar. The traditional onion, lemon and caper garnishes tend to mask the flavor of the caviar. We think topped on a fresh blini or lightly toasted brioche with crème fraiche or high quality butter is perfect. Sieved hard boiled egg and chives are a nice accompaniment as well.
A few more terms
The combined effects of environmental stress and overfishing have depleted the world’s fish supplies by 52 percent since 1989 and are expected to further deplete those supplies by 1.5 percent annually until the year 2020. The increasing demands on wild fisheries by commercial fishing operations have caused overfishing.
As a result, there has been an increasing demand for alternative sources of seafood. Aquaculture — the growing of fish in closed systems that provide the fish with sufficient oxygen, fresh water and food — has offered a solution to the market demand for seafood.
Sustainability generally is a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely. The term, in its environmental usage, refers to the potential longevity of vital ecological support systems, such as the planet’s climate system, systems of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to produce food indefinitely, without causing irreversible damage to ecosystem health.
Organic foods are produced according to certain production standards. For animals, this means that they were reared without routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. While industry standards do exist, organic fish farming is not formally regulated in America.
The European Union has a regulatory body that has begun developing such standards and a certification process, but these have not been fully adopted in the United States. While organic farming generally operates without the use of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones, the organic farming of fish often requires additional limitations of the feed — food that is not derived from animals with hoofs or feathers.