- While shopping for your party, purchase the caviar last so that it doesn’t sit in a hot car all day while you are completing other shopping errands.
- Bring along a container of ice, or request one from the merchant- to keep the caviar chilled during the transport home.
- At the store, ask to have the sealed jar opened so that you can smell the caviar you intend to purchase. The caviar should smell briny, but definitely not fishy. If the caviar is sold in a tin, check the expiration date as well as any other packaging information.
- Read the label to check the expiration date.
- Inspect the caviar roe to ensure none of the eggs are broken.
- The eggs should be lustrous looking and shiny (not dull, oily, or cloudy).
- The caviar should be chilled but never frozen. Be aware of dealers who frequently freeze their caviar, (done to increase the overall shelf-life) as freezing can often be damaging to the caviar. Freezing can cause the eggs to burst.
- Understand the difference between the various types and grades of true caviar (beluga, ostera, sevruga), as well as various non-sturgeon types (bowfin, paddlefish, whitefish, trout, salmon, etc.).
- For tins of caviar, a color-coding system is used for packaging (beluga in blue tins, osetra in red tins, sevruga in yellow tins).
- Once opened and served, fresh caviar should be used and consumed within 1-2 days.
Storing your Caviar:
Like any seafood, caviar needs to be properly stored to ensure freshness, and refrigerated at the right temperature to maintain flavor.
All caviar (regardless whether it is jarred and tinned) will require refrigeration. Read labels carefully for storage instructions. Unopened caviar needs to be refrigerated and can be stored for up to 60 days (depending on the expiry date).
- If you can, store the caviar in the back of the fridge to avoid temperature fluctuations with the opening/closing of the door.
- Cover opened caviar tightly with plastic wrap ensuring the eggs are not exposed to the air.
- Pasteurized caviar leftovers should be consumed within a week of opening.
- Typically, high-quality caviar should be the centerpiece of the party and served simply by itself with toast points (lightly toasted) or bland, unsalted crackers; however, it’s your caviar and your party, so feel free to experiment.
- Lesser-quality caviar may be served with other accompaniments to enhance their flavor like crème fraiche, lemon wedges, pickles, sour cream, minced onion, and boiled eggs.
- High-quality caviar should be served in the jar or tin it was packed on a silver caviar server surrounded by crushed ice.
- Do not serve caviar with silver and metal utensils as they may cause oxidation that alters the flavor of the caviar. (Acceptable utensils should ideally be made of mother-of-pearl, gold, glass, tortoise shell, bone, wood or plastic.
- Caviar should be scooped from the jar/tin and lifted vertically to avoid crushing the roe.
- High-quality caviar should taste slightly briny, but never fishy nor overly salty.
- Do not overindulge, the acceptable portion per person is generally 1-2 ounces (two spoons of caviar).
- Only real champagne (very dry) and the finest frozen vodka should be served as an accompanying beverage.