What is Caviar: Caviar History and Facts
Exactly what is Caviar and where does Caviar come from? Caviar is the unfertilized eggs of the Acipenseridae fish, most commonly known as the sturgeon. Although many people believe that the sturgeon is one type of fish, in fact, there are twenty six species of sturgeon, such as the Beluga Sturgeon, Siberian Sturgeon, and Sevruga Sturgeon, just to name a few. The Sturgeon is a bony fish that can grow up 19 feet in length and have been known to weigh as much as 400 pounds! The sturgeon are primarily bottom-feeders, have a life span from 5 to 150 years, depending on the species, and can produce 1/5 their body weight in roe (eggs).
Throughout history, there is evidence of humans consuming caviar as far back as the ancient Egyptian times where paintings and depictions of men fishing and removing fish eggs have been discovered. Pickling fish eggs was also used as a method of preserving this highly prized food item, in times of war, even in Ancient Greece.
At one point in time, particularly during the 18th to early 19th century, sturgeon was so plentiful in the United States, that not only was the USA considered the world leader in caviar production, it was also used as a low-cost solution to promote alcohol consumption in the bars and saloons, just as salted peanuts and chips are used today! Over time, this elite food item became so popular that some of the sturgeon were nearly fished to extinction and this caused caviar producers to seek out in-expensive substitutes such as salmon (red row) and whitefish (golden row), however, nothing quite compares to the rich, nutty flavor of authentic sturgeon caviar and because of this, it has become a popular food, rich-elite food item.
It can be relatively easy to prepare and service caviar, but note that special care has to be taken to ensure freshness. To achieve ultimate freshness and taste, caviar must be served chilled, ideally on a layer of crushed ice to help retain its coolness upon serving. When serving caviar, it is believed that using a metal spoon will ruined the taste of the caviar, and for this reason, often a tortoise shell or mother-of-pearl spoon is used. Considering that caviar is stored in a metal tin, this speculation could be up for debate.
Caviar is most popularly used as an appetizer to quell the guests’ appetite prior to serving a meal; however, caviar can be prepared into the main dish as well. Often, when served, as an appetizer, it is served as hors oeuvres consisting of breads or crackers topped with caviar or caviar spreads. If you’re looking for a quick, simple method of serving caviar, then try regular toasted bread points topped with a mixture of caviar and chopped, hard boiled eggs. Caviar also goes excellent with Rye breads and Pumpernickel, as well as blintz.
Caviar always makes an exquisite addition to any dinner or social gathering. Be sure to check out our Caviar Recipes for more ideas on how to service and enjoy the delicious treat!
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