Welcome to the Caviar Express Blog. This blog focuses on the world of caviar, including the production of caviar, recent developments in the caviar market, and the most up-to-date information regarding Russian, Iranian and American caviar.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Iranian Karaburun Ossetra Caviar Highligted by Lon Lane's Inspired Occasions
Photographs by Eli's Photography Studio.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Shortnose Sturgeon Caviar from Canada
Shortnose sturgeon is exceedingly rare - with Breviro Caviar being the sole company to produce caviar from the endangered species. Production is extremely limited, and not always available. We have yet to try this type of sturgeon but look forward to sampling it in the future.
Shortnose sturgeon (acipenser brevirostrum) is only found in the Canadian Saint John River system - originating in the U.S. (Maine) and extending through New Brunswick until the Bay of Fundy. Shortnose strugeon can grow to over a meter in length and can live for over 50 years. Fossil evidence dates the earliest record of Shortnose sturgeon to over 200 million years ago.
As you can see from the picture, it is definitely one prehistoric sturgeon!
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Map of Caviar Farms and Caviar Producers Located in the United States
If we are missing a farm or producer, please let us know by emailing us at email@example.com and we will get the map updated.
View Map of Caviar Farms in the United States in a larger map
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
As with many delicacy, caviar can be coupled with various different garnishes. A garnish is simply a flavor enhancer that is meant to highlight the main dish it enhances. When using a garnish with caviar, remember that the point of the garnish is to bring out the sophisticated flavors of caviar, not to overwhelm the caviar and take away from its natural taste. That being said, the following is a list of garnishes that can be used with caviar, followed by the "Traditional" method of eating caviar.
- Plain white toast or crackers are always a welcome bed for caviar to be served and enjoyed upon. Non-flavored toast or Water-Crackers work best.
- Russian Style Blinis. These "mini pankcakes" are this dough-filled breads that when heated are often used by Russians (and many other nationalities) to properly enjoy caviar.
- Danish butter - Often overlooked is the quality and flavor of butter used when combining caviar and toast or crackers. Danish butter uses a different salt balance then conventional butter, especially butter found in most major U.S. Grocery stores. You might not think it makes a difference, but next time you find it, try Danish butter - it will make the caviar taste that much better.
- Creme Fraiche is a butter alternative that can be used as it is creamier and lighter than butter with a slightly more sour taste.
- Boiled Egg-whites, chopped or solid can also be combined with caviar as they are mainly a texture garnish as protein packed egg-whites have relatively no taste.
- Chopped red onions can be used along with caviar to highlight salt undertones of the roe. Be sure to use the red onions in moderation however as they can easily overwhelm the caviar.
- Squeezing a few drips of lemon juice over caviar is also common as it provides a tang that balances quite well with the sea-saltiness of caviar, especially the saltier varieties such as Russian Sevruga Caviar.
- Smoked Salmon always compliments well with black caviar - with caviar placed atop the smoked salmon or wrapped within the smoked salmon in a blini style.
- Chives can also be used to garnish caviar. But like red onions, they should be used sparingly as they can easily overwhelm the taste of caviar.
Simple, none of the above. Traditionalists love caviar for the taste of caviar itself. They view garnishes as defeating the purpose of eating caviar in the first place. Simply take a pearl spoon, place in caviar tin, scoop, apply to hand between thumb and index finger, place in mouth, and repeat.
Monday, October 24, 2011
International Flights and Travelling with Caviar
General Regulation of Importing Caviar:
In general, the importation of caviar, a product of an endangered species, is regulated and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). CITES regulated importation of caviar into the U.S. by requiring specific permits in order to protect selected species. Without proper permit documentation, caviar cannot be imported into the U.S.
Exception When Importing Caviar for Personal Use:
A CITES permit is not required if an individual is carrying (on their person or suitcase) caviar intended for personal use. Meaning this caviar is not to be sold or enter interstate commerce. The Maximum amount permitted per person is 125 grams of caviar. Which translates to roughly 4.5 ounces. This exception applies to passengers on Airlines as well as Cruise Ships.
Exception to the Exception - Beluga Caviar:
Regardless of the personal use exception, no amount of Beluga Caviar can be imported or exported to or from the U.S. for any use. As a "threatened" species, there is an all out moratorium on Beluga Caviar for all CITES member nations, including the U.S.
- CITES Permits are required to import/export caviar into our out of the U.S.
- Up to 125 grams (4.5oz.) of caviar can be imported when traveling (on your person or suitcase) without a CITES permit if the caviar is for personal use.
- Beluga Caviar can NEVER be imported/exported - With or Without CITES or for Personal Use - No Exceptions.
For more Information, check out the Fish and Wildlife Service's Caviar Passengers Fact Sheet and Guide.
Monday, October 17, 2011
California Ban on Foie Gras Begins July 1, 2012
California Health and Safety Code (Sections 25980 - 25984 inclusive) makes it illegal to either:
- Force feed (gavage) a bird, including but not limited to duck or goose, for the purpose of enlarging the size of the living within the State of California, or
- Sell a product in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size.
Fines for violating the ban include up to $1,000 per violation and $1,000 a day as long as violations of the ban continue to occur.
Chicago banned the sale of Foie Gras in 2006, only to overturn the ban in 2008. The Chicago City Council repealed the ban as residents complained that the foie gras ban was an example of officials trying to micromanage people's lives.
Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a California company that processes over 250,000 ducks yearly have been considering filing a lawsuit challenging the California ban on the grounds that their practices on ducks are being singled-out as compared to similar practices on cattle of chicken occurring regularly throughout California and the United States.
Friday, October 14, 2011
South Korean Caviar Farm Raises Albino Sturgeon
Albino Sturgeon are very rare and their caviar (Sometimes referred to "Almas Caviar" is some of the most sought after caviar in the world. With wild varieties fetching prices over $3,000 an ounce, albino "almas" caviar is surely the most expensive caviar in the world.
Although farm-raised, prices of the albino sturgeon from South Korea are sure to fetch astronomical prices. Would love to try some of their products, and perhaps give them a visit!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
What is Caviar?
The actual word "caviar" was introduced into English in the 16th century. It is believed that it came from French and Italian influence, who inherited the word from the Turkish "havyar". The source of the Turkish "havyar" is apparently an Iranian dialect for the word "egg" in Farcy, "khayah". So to make put it in Kevin Bacon degrees of separation terms:
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
What Does "Malossol" Mean?
Malossol is a Russian word that literally translates to "little salt". It is often used to describe caviar, as in "Malossol Caviar", as most all fish roe are treated with salt in order to become caviar.
The term Malossol was originally used to distinguish high grade caviar from ordinary caviar. When caviar was being produced many centuries ago, no viable preservatives existed to properly conserve and extend the shelf-life of caviar. The only known solution was to add salt in order to preserve the caviar. However, adding too much salt would overwhelm the taste and quality of the caviar, compromising the cell-walls of the roe and causing the caviar to lose its characteristic "pop". Thus, the term "Malossol" was born to inform both purveyors and consumers that this specific type of caviar had not been overly salted (between 3-5%) and was of the highest quality and taste.
Traditionally, only the highest grade of roe (such as Beluga or Imperial Ossetra Caviar) was used for the malossol process and given the title "Malossol Caviar". Today however, malossol is not indicative of a caviar's grade, quality, or origin. Most all types are treated with salt (between 3-5%) in order to properly preserve the caviar and to add to its taste - Thus these caviar's can be deemed "malossol".
Alternate spellings include malosol and mallasal. In the end, malossol was a term used in the past as a distinguishing point to separate ordinary caviar from high grade caviar. Today that distinction no longer exists as almost all caviar is considered "malossol" by definition, and the term no longer is used to distinguish quality or grade.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Is it Khaviar or Cavier or Caviar or...
The origin of the word of the word 'caviar' is uncertain, as most word origins are. It came into English as caviary in the mid 16th century. Shakespeare's Hamlet says of a play that it "pleased not the million, twas caviary to the general", meaning that it was wasted on the masses. So caviar had elitist connotations from the start, at least in the West.
The English word was probably derived from the Italian caviale (earlier caviaro) or French caviar, probably ultimately from medieval Greek khaviari. It is related to the Persian word khag-avar which means "the roe-generator", and which is used to refer both to the sturgeon and to the roe itself.
The Russian word is ikra, which refers to roe in general, including that of the sturgeon. The word 'roe' is from the Middle Dutch word roge. Australians offer spell it cavier, while many European cultures continue to spell caviar with a K, hence khaviar.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
How to Properly Store Caviar
Proper Storage of Caviar:
Naturally, caviar is highly perishable. In essence caviar is raw fish eggs that have been washed and treated with salt, which is often the only preservative added. Thus, caviar is extremely sensitive when exposed to the elements.
The two most notable "enemies" of caviar quality are temperature fluctuations and oxidation.
- Temperature fluctuations cause instability in the chemical composition of the caviar and its interaction with salt - this will alter the taste and quality of the caviar. Hence it is paramount to store caviar at a CONSTANT temperature of around 28 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the caviar's salinity, the eggs will not freeze even though they are below zero.
- Most household refrigerators are not set at such cold temperatures as 28 to 30 degrees is too cold for most items found within a refrigerator. The solution is to place the caviar in the lowest section of the refrigerator as possible, as cold are falls and hot air rises. It might not be 28 degrees, but it is sure to be colder than the top of the refrigerator. Additionally, avoid placing caviar in the shelves of the refrigerator door - constant opening and closing of the refrigerator does havoc on items placed in the door as they are most vulnerable to the elements.
- Oxidation is the interaction between oxygen molecules and other substances - for our purposes, caviar! Oxidation drastically alters the quality of caviar as it compromises the integrity of the egg walls - causing caviar eggs to become soft and mushy - eliminating that "pop" in the mouth which is a quintessential property of any good caviar. Oxidation most commonly occurs when a caviar tin is opened for consumption and is either left open for too long (over an hour) or is partially consumed and placed back in the refrigerator within a half-full tin.
- We suggest that the entire tin of caviar be consumed when it is opened in order to assure freshness and top quality. However, if you do plan to only partially consume the contents of a tin, a good solution to minimize oxidation is to place the remaining caviar in a smaller tin or container so that there is less interaction with the air. Make sure the new tin or container is not raw metal, wood, or any other material that can alter the taste of caviar. Glass usually works best. Once partially consumed and placed back in the refrigerator, caviar has a maximum shelf life of three to five days. After that, both the taste and texture will begin to change.
Shelf-life of Caviar:
- For an unopened tin of caviar, the maximum shelf life is between three to four weeks after delivery if property stored. After 3 to 4 weeks the caviar's quality will begin to degrade as the egg walls will slowly soften.
- Once opened and partially consumed, the maximum shelf life of caviar is between three to five days. As explained above, oxidation drastically alters the taste and quality of caviar. Once opened, caviar should be consumed in a timely manner to assure freshness.
- Store Caviar between 28 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place tin in the coldest part of refrigerator (bottom drawer).
- Keep tin firmly sealed. Always keep provided rubber-band on the tin.
- Enjoy and eat entire tin's contents in one sitting.
- Freeze Caviar - This will destroy texture and quality.
- Store in refrigerator door of fridge.
- Leave caviar exposed to the air (oxidation) for prolonged periods.
- Place anything on top of closed caviar tin.
- Place partially consumed tin back in refrigerator without repacking.
- Worry too much! Eat it and Enjoy it!
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
80% Hatch Rate at Abu Dhabi Caviar Farm
The Royal Caviar Company flew in three kilos of eggs - about 120,000 - to its farm in Musaffah on July 20. Muhaned Abu Awad, the factory manager, said the success rate of the first batch was higher than that of any caviar farm in Europe, where 50 to 60 per cent is typical.
Sturgeon are hard to breed successfully because they require specific conditions to thrive. That means their environment needs to be precisely monitored and regulated.
"It all depends on the effort you make on fixing all the parameters," said Mr Abu Awad. "We're very happy with the outcome." The eggs usually take seven to 10 days to hatch. They now weigh 0.02 grams and measure 2 millimetres in diameter.
They will be moved to the hatchery area for the next eight months, until each fish weighs about 200g and is capable of living in a larger tank. There they will stay until reaching production stage, the age at which females can produce caviar and the males may be sold at market or used for breedstock - five years for the females and three for the males.
The farm will be making caviar much sooner, though, having bought young fish in addition to the eggs. The first commercial batch of caviar and fillets is planned for the second half of 2012.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Which Champagne to Pair with Caviar
The most frequently selected champagne in fine restaurants paired with caviar is Dom Pérignon, the leader in the Moët et Chandon line. Vintages are a matter of personal choice, but 1990 seems perfect with Ossetra caviar. Taittinger is another popular choice, as well has vintage Krug.
In the end, personal preferences, as well as your purse or wallet, dictate the choice you make.
Good caviar and good champagne go hand-in-hand. Don't just serve caviar; present it, It is entirely worth it!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Is Caviar Safe During Pregnancy?
The answer is based on several factors. Here are three things to consider:
Listeria and Pregnancy here. Generally, wild and farmed caviar that is NOT pasteurized contains listeria because of the way caviar is produced. Although the amount of listeria is minimal to none, and would generally not harm a normal healthy individual, there is a risk when it is consumed by pregnant women. However, caviar that IS pasteurized does not contain listeria - thus pasteurized caviar can be safely consumed by pregnant women.
2-Mercury, a pollutant often found in fish that can affect both a mother and child. Per FDA reports and standards, caviar generally contains the lowest mercury levels amongst seafood. Up to 6 ounces can be safely consumed per week. Fish Mercury Level information can be found here.
3-Ask your doctor. No amount of research on the internet or anywhere else is as valuable and accurate than consulting with your physician. Before consuming caviar, we highly recommended that you speak with your doctor if you are pregnant or can become pregnant.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Great Video about Sterling (Sustainable) Caviar
Very well done video about sustainable caviar, titled "Green Eggs By The Gram: Sustainable Caviar."
Monday, August 1, 2011
Sturgeon amongst one-third of all freshwater fish threatened with extinction
Amongst the nearly 15,000 freshwater species that have been discovered, 5,685 have been assessed in these preliminary findings. The preliminary results of the assessment were revealed at the annual conference of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles at Bournemouth University.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
What is the Shelf Life of Caviar?
First off, most caviar should never be frozen, as the freezing/thawing out process usually damages the shell of the roe. This leads to a "mushy" texture and compromised taste.
For most types of caviar, including all Russian and Iranian types, and American types (California White Sturgeon, Siberian Sturgeon, Paddlefish, Smoked Trout, Alaskan Salmon), the caviar can remain fresh for up to 4 weeks if properly refrigerated. However, the 4 week shelf life is highly dependent on how well the caviar is maintained.
Once the caviar tin is opened, the remaining caviar should be consumed within 3 to 4 days. The shelf life is drastically reduced once opened because of the contact with air, and the fact that the caviar is now stored in the original tin with air inside (where the now consumed caviar used to be).
Lastly, make sure that nothing is placed atop the caviar tin. Any substantial weight atop a tin will press upon the caviar roe inside and ultimately cause them to burst.
Conclusion: Up to 4 weeks (if properly stored) for unopened tins. Between 3-4 days for partially consumed opened tins.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Canadian Caviar Farm Breeds Sturgeon Not Seen On Market For 100 Years
Canadian Caviar Farm, Breviro Caviar, has spent the past 15 years breeding Shortnose Breviro Sturgeon, which had nearly been wiped out due to overfishing about 100 years ago.
Now, the sturgeon are producing caviar and are ready for the market. The taste is described as "buttery" and delicate. The Breviro Caviar farm is also one of Canada's only CITES approved facilities.
There is also a video in the article, which I do suggest you watch - Great clips of the farming process and actual extraction of roe from the ovaries.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Caviar Express Now Offering Truly Organic Caviar
What makes Organic Caviar organic? Although Russian and Iranian Caviar originate from wild sturgeon that are caught from their natural habitat, the Caspian Sea, the traditional process of preparing the roe and transforming it into "caviar" involves the addition of borax. Borax is a mineral compound that is used as a food additive in order to help preserve caviar. Originally, salt was the only additive that was used to flavor and preserve sturgeon roe and to create caviar. However, for several decades borax has been used in Caspian-style caviar production in order to lengthen shelf-life, preserve quality, and to add flavor to caviar.
Our Organic Caviar lacks any borax or other food additives. The only mineral added to the roe after it is harvested from the sturgeon is natural sea-salt. The sea-salt acts as an organic preservative and is instrumental in giving caviar its distinct taste and texture.
Additionally, our Eco-friendly caviar originates from sturgeon that have not been treated with any chlorine, hormones, or other chemicals not naturally occurring in their habitat. The sturgeon are allowed to live in natural water basins that are continuously filtered and monitored in order to provide the sturgeon with optimal water temperatures and near perfect environmental conditions. Organic Caviar is distinct in that most farm-raised caviar originate from sturgeon that are treated with hormones in order to accelerate maturity. By accelerating maturity through hormones, caviar farms are able produce viable caviar much quicker (approximately 6-8 years). However, the addition of hormones forces the sturgeon to develop in an unnatural progression, and ultimately jeopardizes the taste and quality of the caviar it produces.
Our Eco-Friendly Sturgeon are not treated with growth acceleration hormones. The sturgeon are instead allowed to develop naturally (over 11 years) and are hand-selected yearly only when they have naturally reached maturity and are ready to produce viable roe.
The result of this natural process is a mid-to-large size roe that is dark-grey in color and offers a consistency that is incredibly delicate and soft. The roes are notably firm and burst with a light clean flavor of cream with a hint of salt. Compared to California White Sturgeon Caviar, our Organic Caviar is slightly less salty, but with a smoother, more butter-like taste and texture.
In the end, we are proud to be offering a product that both directly helps to preserve the very sturgeon that have created the industry that we are in, all while delivering a level of quality and taste akin to Caspian Sea Caviar from many years ago.
Organic Caviar can be purchased directly on our website by clicking here. Indulge!
Friday, July 15, 2011
Russian Police Seize 90kg. of illegal Sturgeon Caviar from Russian Military.
Russian Police recently arrested crew aboard a military plane carrying 90kg. of illegally poached caviar. The flight crew, scheduled to fly a Tu-154 passenger plane from the East Siberian city of Khabarovsk to Moscow, had concealed more than 90 kilograms of the tinned delicacy in their luggage, Khabarovsk police found after a pre-flight inspection.
You can read the full article here, and an additional article here. Market value of the caviar is estimated to be upwards of 2.3 million dollars. Yet another reason why we need a strong push to make farmed-raised caviar a future reality.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
New Caviar Farm in Abu Dhabi (UAE)
The Royal Caviar Company, launched under the Bin Salem Holdings, is the Middle East's first caviar farm. The factory currently contains 18 tons of sturgeon (mainly Siberian) with an additional 124 tons (various sturgeon) expected for delivery later this year. Additionally, approximately 20 ever-so-rare albino sturgeons are also expected for delivery.
The farm plans to be at full production in 2015, with a capacity to produce 35 tons of caviar along with 700 tons of sturgeon meat per year. We are definitely looking forward to sampling some of their product, hopefully by the second half of 2012. Just like most any other industry, more competition will result in higher quality and lower prices. This is great for both purveyors such as Caviar Express, and for our customers.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Etiquette Coach for Sushi, Wine and Caviar by P. Diddy...
The NY Post reports that Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, has hired Dawn Bryan, an international protocol expert, in order to school employees of "Diddy" Combs on how to properly act in formal settings.
Teachings include how to present a business card in Japan, etiquette for business gifts in international settings, how to choose wine, and of course, how to properly eat caviar.
Apparently, the etiquette courses are required for any new employees working under Diddy and his company, Bad Boy Entertainment, located in New York City.
Friday, June 3, 2011
How does Sturgeon Roe (eggs) become caviar?
First, the female sturgeon is caught and the entire egg sack (ovary) is removed. The sack is then placed on a mesh netting and lightly rinsed with water. This clears the eggs of an unwanted particulates. The eggs are then gently rubbed across the mesh netting, which is key in separating the eggs from the ovary membrane itself. The eggs are then rinsed again with water and are now ready for salting.
Salting the separated and cleaned roes is also referred to as "malossol", which translates to "little salt" in Russian. In the caviar industry, "Malossol" is usually reserved for caviar that contains 3% to 5% salt content. Generally, higher quality eggs receive less salt than average and low grade roes, as the higher grade roes need less salt (additive) to influence the shape and texture of the roe.
After the roes are lightly salted, they are left to soak in the salt for several hours, after which time they are again lightly rinsed to remove the salt brine. Salt is used as a natural preservative for the eggs, and to give the eggs substance and taste. Unsalted roe are tasteless, and lack a rolling texture and firmness that pops in your mouth, which is quintessential to caviar. Thus, salting is a very important step in producing true caviar. Alas, the roes have now become "caviar", and are ready to be packed for consumption.
Some producers, namely of the Iranian style, also add "borax", which is a preserving agent meant to extend the shelf-life and freshness of the caviar, and influence its taste and texture. More information on borax next week.
Additionally, some caviar producers use a process of "aging" the caviar. These producers believe that although caviar should normally be eaten as a fresh product, there needs to be a brief period of aging (anywhere between 5 and 14 days) to allow the salt to truly soak into the roes and influence both taste and texture.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Illegal Poaching of Caviar - Not only in the Caspian Sea
Unfortunately the penalties seem to be minor - Maximum of one year and $10,000 in fines including restitution. Seems a bit soft when you consider how many paddlefish they had to illegally harvest to render 305 pounds of roe!
Friday, May 27, 2011
Franciacorta with Caviar - An Italian Alternative to Champagne
Aging takes anywhere from 17 to 30 months, with the latter being designated "vintage". After aging, Franciacorta is usually held for an additional 5-8 months before release and ultimately consumption. This results in a lighter taste than Champagne, however the youth of the Franciacorta provides for a rather rounded and complex style.
There are multiple types of Franciacorta, as one can imagine, including varieties specifically designed to rival their French neighbors (Champagne) which do away with Pinot Nero completely, leaving only Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco as the comprising grapes - this type of Franciacorta is commonly referred to as Franciacorta Saten.
Another notable characteristic of Franciacorta is it's dryness. Like Champagne, the dryness of Franciacorta serves as a perfect pairing with caviar. The salty overtones of caviar blend well with the dryness of wines such as Champagne and Franciacorta.
So next time you want to have some "bubbly" with your caviar, try out Franciacorta instead of Champagne. Like Champagne, Franciacorta also has labellings of "brut", "sec", and "extra sec" or "extra brut" - all of which mean dry or extra dry. I have tried both, but prefer "extra brut" when pairing Franciacorta with Caviar. The dryness of the wine does an excellent job of cleaning the palette before your next tasting of caviar. Which works great when sampling multiple types of caviar!
And lastly, since Franciacorta is not as well known (yet) as Champagne, you can usually find it for a fraction of the price when compared to Champagne. Meaning $15 to $25 buys you a good quality Franciacorta. So live a little, and enjoy a lot!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Great article about California caviar farms
The piece also includes a 15-photo slideshow showing how caviar is produced from the initial farming stages to the actual harvesting and packaging. The WSJ reported was definitely in for a treat as he was allowed to watch and photograph the process from start to finish.
Check out the article here. Also of interest is the history of how caviar came to be in California, and why the farms in California produce 85% of the entire Sturgeon farm production in the United States.