When it comes to harvesting Caviar, there are certain steps that are considered quintessential and the steps taken during this time are what shape the entire concept of what Caviar is. While the processing side is continually evolving to meet increasing demand as well as extremely strict standards of quality and hygiene, the harvesting techniques have stayed the same. Passed down from generations before, the Caviar is treated with much respect and care.
First things first, the fish are washed with fresh water. Immediately after, an incision is made in the belly of the sturgeon and the roe is removed as quickly as possible. The eggs must be removed while the fish is still alive, otherwise its body will release a chemical that can harm the eggs.
The eggs are kept together by a membrane, which is then separated by a sieve. Washed and filtered a second time, these eggs are now ready to be categorized. There are a couple things that are considered when classifying Caviar – the firmness of the eggs, the color, the size, the smell and the taste.
Now that the eggs are all clean and sorted, they are weighed and salted. There are a few different variations that achieve very different goals. The finest Caviar is called “malossol” and will contain less than 4% salt content. Time is of the utmost importance as is precision. The salt masters must know the exact weight, as to not over salt the eggs, and they must work quickly to avoid diminishing the quality.
After the Caviar goes through the salting process, it is spread over a mesh to drain and remove the brine. From here, the Caviar is packed into tins. Caviar is commonly shipped in large tins, weighing about four pounds each and later repacked into smaller sizes.
To understand the process brings a greater sense of appreciation for the true art that Caviar is!