Caviar has been enjoyed all throughout history. The ancient Persians heavily salted their caviar in order to preserve the eggs, and it wasn’t until it became popular in Russia, that a lightly-salted version became the custom. The trade off to less salting was that the caviar didn’t keep very long, and so the tradition of eating caviar as an appetizer, became very popular. Recently, with the addition of non-sturgeon caviars on the market, caviar has become an affordable luxury at many a dinner party and banquet, and everyday occasions all over the world. Of course, knowing how to properly prepare and serve caviar is important to get all of the taste benefits caviar has to offer.
The following steps and tips allow you to present and serve the wonderful flavor of caviar so that it can be enjoyed.
1 hour prior to serving: Chill the serving plates in the refrigerator- as warm or hot plates will affect how long the caviar can sit out.
15-20 minutes prior to serving: Remove the caviar from the refrigerator and let the un-opened tin acclimate to room temperature. Do not open the container at this time.
Prepare your serving platter: Add traditional caviar accompaniments: bite-sized pieces of lightly-toasted triangles (and lightly buttered), blinis, shallots, etc.
Remove your bowl of crème fraiche from the refrigerator.
Add crushed ice to the caviar server (or decorative tray/dish -ideally made of silver or crystal).
Open the tin of caviar and place it on top the crushed ice ensuring the tin is completely surrounded by ice.
Add a mother-of-pearl spoon to the caviar. Note: If you do not have a mother-of-pearl spoon, a ceramic spoon (or bone, tortoise shell, and even wood) will suffice. Avoid using a metal or silver spoon as the metal may affect the flavor of the caviar.
Remove the chilled serving plates and place them along with the caviar tray and accompaniments on your serving table so guests can serve themselves.
- Handle Caviar with extreme care as the eggs are fragile.
- Rinse all non-sturgeon caviars prior to serving (in case the eggs have been dyed); this will prevent the color from running.
- To properly taste caviar, place the grains (eggs) into your mouth and let them burst forth on your tongue.
- Caviar can spoil quickly, so it is important to keep it nestled in crushed ice, and ideally- served and eaten immediately once opened.
- You should never cook caviar, as it will likely rupture the eggs. If a recipe calls for caviar, be sure to add it at the end, or as a garnish.
- If you are serving beverages with the caviar, the ideal choices are frozen vodka, and very dry Champagne (sparkling wine, or dry white wine may also be used). Avoid flavored vodkas or champagne that is sweet.
- Refrigerate the caviar once you return from the store, but do not freeze (it may burst the eggs).
- Store fresh caviar at 26-34 degrees Fahrenheit. Caviar stored at this temperature can last 1-4 weeks and the high-oil content protects it from freezing at this temperature.
- If you are unsure of the temperature of your refrigerator, you can store the caviar in the fridge packed in ice (changing the ice as it melts).
- Caviar should only be opened immediately before it will be consumed.
- Unopened caviar can be refrigerated for 15-20 days.
- Opened caviar should be tightly covered with plastic wrap and eaten within 1-2 days.