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!

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