Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Does "Malossol" Mean?

What is Malossol Caviar?

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

One question we often receive is how to properly store and preserve caviar once it is delivered. This post will attempt to answer the most common questions concerning the proper storage of caviar, the shelf-life of caviar and do's and don'ts.

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.

Caviar Do's:
  • 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.

Caviar Don'ts:
  • 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

More than 80 per cent of the sturgeon eggs flown into the world's largest and most technologically advanced caviar farm this summer have hatched successfully.

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.