A Real Delicacy: How to Choose Red Caviar

Red caviar is a delicacy. It is not acceptable to eat it with spoons, and nutritionists do not advise it – they say that everything is useful in moderation. And it is for the best – caviar is not a cheap product. So when choosing it, be careful not to buy a fake.

On the shelves of stores and markets, one can find all kinds of caviar: pink salmon, chum salmon, and sockeye salmon… How to choose which is better – someone takes a more expensive one, someone chooses on the advice of a neighbor, someone guided solely by his sixth sense? Well, let’s figure out how to choose red caviar.

Red caviar – from which fish it is made

Red caviar is the caviar of fish of the salmon family. This includes chum salmon, pink salmon, sockeye salmon, and chinook salmon. Depending on the fish, caviar comes in larger and smaller sizes, different shades, and different tastes. For example:

  • Pink salmon caviar – a light orange color, it is sweet to the taste, and the size of the eggs from 3 to 5 mm.
  • The Caviar of the sockeye is dark red, has a slight bitterness, and is smaller than that of the pink salmon – the egg size is up to 3 mm.
  • Keta caviar is orange in color with a red tint. It is the largest in size, the most delicate in taste, and also the fattest.
  • Chinook salmon caviar is a rich red color, spicy and bitter, the egg size is 6-7 mm. But you can hardly buy such caviar – the fish is in the Red Book.

Fish from outside the salmon family have different caviar – it is pale and yellow or pink in color. For example, whitefish, whitefish, and pollack caviar are pink, but pike, bream, vobla, pikeperch, and mullet – are yellow.

How to choose red caviar – 7 rules

When choosing caviar pay attention to the can, and the composition, and if possible, examine the eggs, smell, and taste.

  1. Examine the jar. Caviar is most often packed in tin cans, but there is also in glass jars. You can not see caviar in the tin, so check its appearance: it should not be bloated or deformed, but it must be tightly rolled. You can also shake the jar: if you hear bubbling you will hear a lot of liquid inside. If the jar is glass – look at the quality of the eggs and that there were no extraneous impurities.
  2. Check the manufacturing date and the expiration date. The real caviar is considered to be that which was salted in the place of fishing at the time of spawning of fish – in July and August. In some regions, red caviar is produced from May to October. That is, in a good way, the jar should have a date within that time. If the date is different, then it is likely that frozen raw material was used to make such caviar. Check the shelf life of the caviar on the label – no comment here.
  3. Read the composition. The manufacturer must specify from which fish caviar the product is made. The caviar can also include salt (4 to 7%), vegetable oil, and preservatives E422, E200, E211, and E239. The preservative E200 is sorbic acid, and E211 is sodium benzoate. These are antiseptics, their amount in the caviar should not exceed 0.1%. The preservative E422 is food glycerin, which is used to prevent the eggs from sticking together. The preservative E239 is urotropine (many countries, by the way, have abandoned its use, as it is very harmful). Preservatives in caviar are the only way to preserve it. You can make caviar without preservatives, but it will be stored for only 4 months.
  4. pay attention to the variety. The first grade is the caviar of the same species of fish. First-grade eggs are the same, clean, without clots and almost all intact – a small number of bursts are allowed. Also, the caviar of the first grade should not contain vegetable oil. The salt content is 4-6%. The second sort is an assortment of caviar from several species of salmon, so the eggs will not be the same size and there will be more broken eggs. Second-grade caviar has vegetable oil, and the amount of salt is 4-7%, which means it can be saltier.
  5. Look at the appearance and taste. If possible, look at the caviar, and maybe even taste it. Externally, the eggs should be the same, whole, clean, and uniform in color. The consistency should be firm, with a dry or slightly moist surface. In taste – without the taste of acid or rancid fat, and there should not be a pungent fishy smell.
  6. Pay attention to cost. Real caviar cannot be cheap, even if it comes at a discount – remember this.
  7. Don’t buy caviar from dubious places. Buy caviar is better in stores – supermarkets, hypermarkets, or specialized fish stores – they can ensure proper storage conditions for caviar. And, if anything, you will have someone to present claims.

How to distinguish real caviar from artificial caviar

Artificial caviar is a protein product made of gelatin or fish oil with the addition of milk or soy, seaweed, and fish broth. That is, it is not even close to natural. There is nothing wrong with it if it is sold as artificial, especially since it is harmless (and useless, too). But it happens that protein caviar is passed off as real.

Therefore, when choosing:

  • Read the label – it may state that it is a protein product.
  • Look at the appearance – artificial caviar will have a homogeneous structure and color, while natural caviar has a shell, liquid inside, and an “eye” (germ).
  • Smell – protein caviar has a pungent fishy smell, while real caviar has a pleasant aroma.
  • Taste – artificial caviar has a pungent taste.

The eggs of the artificial product stick to your teeth, but the natural caviar bursts on the teeth and its contents flow.

How to store red caviar

There are a few rules on how to store red caviar at home:

  • Stick to the storage times and conditions listed on the jar.
  • Do not keep an open jar for more than 5 days – microorganisms will begin to develop in it, there will be an unpleasant smell, and the caviar will dry out.
  • Do not try caviar from a jar with the same spoon twice – bacteria will multiply faster.
  • Do not allow water to get into the caviar.
  • Do not keep caviar in the freezer.

After defrosting the caviar you are likely to get “mush”.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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