Caviar -

The salted roe of various large fish of the Sturgeon family. Nearly all the world's supply now comes from the Caspian Sea.

The finest quality Caviar is that from the Beluga, a Russian word meaning "Great White Sturgeon," the largest of all sturgeons, which grows to a length of twelve or fourteen feet and sometimes weighs considerably more than a ton - a single cowfish of that size giving as much as 360 pounds of Caviar. These very big fish are becoming more scarce every year and the average Beluga now caught is much smaller.

One hears and reads much of "Astrakhan Caviar" - yet there are no fisheries at Astrakhan (Russia). The name has clung because the City of Astrakhan is the greatest shipping place for Caviar, largely via Germany.

Again, many people speak of "German Caviar," yet none of the small German Caviar product is exported - the impression arises from the fact that the Russian export trade is carried on principally by German firms with Hamburg as headquarters. London and Paris are both "outside markets," drawing their daily and weekly supplies from the Hamburg houses - but all the Caviar they receive is Russian Caviar.

After the fish has been killed, the roe is separated from the skin and fine tissues which envelop it by gently rubbing through a sieve. For "fresh," i.e., mildly salted, Caviar, for which only roe in the best possible condition is suitable, it is then salted in the proportion of two to six pounds to each hundred pounds of roe, drained and put up in air-tight tin packages or glass jars.

Roe in which the eggs are too soft or too far ripened for "fresh" grades, is cured with 10% of salt and packed in barrels for export, to be later repacked and cooked in tins for retail handling. This is the sandwich and canapé Caviar of ordinary use.

"Pressed Caviar" is a peculiarly Russian variety of which very little is exported.

The size of the egg or grain varies from very small to that of peas. The color is generally black but may be also any one of various shades of yellow, grey, dark green and brown. The real test of Caviar is its flavor and this is as often found in the small as in the large grain and in the black as in any other color, but the large eggs and the grey and yellow or "gold" colors are the most rare and therefore the most expensive. The gold color is considered the choicest in Russia, the greyish in Germany.

There is very little Caviar produced in North America to-day, uncontrolled slaughter of the fish for many years having rendered it so scarce that it hardly pays to hunt it. Formerly, after supplying home markets, a considerable quantity of American Caviar was shipped to Europe for sale as medium and coarse grades.

Caviar in America is generally eaten on bread or toast with oil, lemon juice or vinegar and various garnishes. It is also occasionally served on ice as a special course at luncheon and dinner parties.

Arround Caviar in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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