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.