Caviar is a unique symbol of worldly love, respect and prestige.
Russian black caviar is one of unconditional national symbols. Since long ago it has deserved its glory as the best, the most nutritious and most delicious fish product. The larger and lighter the grains of sturgeon caviar, the better and more valuable the caviar is considered. The best caviar is of silver black to grayish brown colour (the lighter the colour the higher the quality), a little shiny, with almost no smell and grains of the same size which don’t stick to each other. By marketable value beluga’s caviar is on the first place, then goes sturgeon caviar, third place belongs to stellate sturgeon, though the latter contains a little more fats and proteins.
The process of manufacturing looks quite simple: yastiks (membranes with roe) are taken out of the fish, the grains are separated from connective tissue by beating them through a special “caviar-sieve” (a grid on a frame), washed, dropped on a strainer, weighed and added necessary amount of salt, because high content of proteins(30%) and fats can cause easy spoilage of caviar.
Black caviar can be fresh-grained, pressed or yastik.
For the production of fresh-grained caviar only well-ripened roe, easily separating from yastiks (fish ovaries) is used. This caviar is salted with fine dry table salt. The process of salting continues for a few minutes and ends when maximum amount of brine – so-called “tuzluk” – is generated. Correctly salted caviar is called dry-brittle, its grains are whole and easily separate from each other.
Best fresh-grained caviar is packed in tins or jars, and it is called tinned. Tinned caviar is the less salty, because in the process of salting it no more than 5% salt of the roe weight is used (this is why it can not be stored for long – only 2-2.5 months). After tuzluk is drained away, the caviar is packed in tins of capacity 0.5 – 1.8 kg. Honest manufacturers fill the tins with caviar over the edges, then the tin is closed with a lid and pressed, and the rim turns out to be higher than the lid. When the tin is opened, the surface of caviar reminds of a mirror and the lid is dry, without grains stuck to it. Poachers are not that generous – the result is less weight, and also such caviar doesn’t keep “first freshness” for long, because moisture is the best environment for bacteria.
Barrel caviar (packed in oak barrels) is a little more rough and salty; in its production up to 10% of salt is used. Barrel fresh-grained caviar is not produced for domestic use. Pasteurized caviar is made from quality high-grade roe. After salting (weight of salt being 5% of roe weight) caviar is packed into tin or glass jars of several volumes. It is packed with a dispenser and the weight of each jar is controlled on a scale. After sealing the jars are subjected to double pasteurizing in a pasteurizer – a tub with hot water (65 degrees Centigrade). Pasteurized caviar is stable: in glass jars it can be stored for 8 months, in tins – from 10 months to one year.
Pressed caviar is made out of fresh roe which is unsuitable for producing fresh-grained caviar. For its preparation not dry salting but tuzluk salting under the temperature 40 degrees Centigrade (tuzluk is a specially prepared saline solution) is used. After salting and light pressing, as a result of which the caviar becomes a homogeneous paste, it is packed into jars. Such caviar can be stored for 8 months. Sometimes the grains do not separate well from the connective tissue – it means that either there is too much fat in the roe, or it is not ripe enough, or overripe. In this case yastiks are cut in pieces and salted. Such caviar is called yastik caviar. The caviar is of good quality, but it is much saltier and a little rougher than fresh-grained or pressed caviar. Its shelf life doesn’t exceed one month: yastik caviar oxidizes quickly because of high fat content.