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Why is Caviar Eaten Raw?

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Caviar is known internationally as a delicacy. Many people associate it with upper-class garden parties, but anyone can enjoy high-quality caviar. Caviar has a unique flavor and texture profile, and it's rare, which increases its appeal. 

Even though anyone can enjoy caviar, you still need to know how to appreciate it. Part of appreciating caviar has to do with understanding how it's prepared and why it's prepared a certain way. For example, many people know that caviar is eaten raw, but most likely do not know why. Check out this guide to learn why caviar is eaten raw and how you can enjoy it like a caviar connoisseur. 

What Is Caviar?

Caviar is a prestigious appetizer that has surprised and impressed people for thousands of years. It's a delicacy that consists of unfertilized sturgeon eggs. Caviar is rare largely because overfishing in the 20th and 21st centuries reduced the sturgeon population worldwide. Coupled with the complexity of harvesting caviar, caviar became a global delicacy.

At the beginning of its history, only the wealthy or nobility could appreciate caviar's unique, slightly salty flavor that transports you to the sea in the same way a conch shell does when you hold it up to your ear. Today, farm-raised caviar allows many to savor its rich flavor at a lower price while protecting the wild sturgeon population.

Why Is Caviar Eaten Raw?

Being able to savor the taste and texture of caviar is a transcendent experience. But many people wonder whether you consume caviar raw or cooked. 

Caviar is never cooked — it's cured. Cooking caviar negatively affects its texture and flavor. When eaten raw, caviar has a rich, intense flavor and consistency that many people find joy and satisfaction in. 

The Benefits of Eating Raw Caviar

Most people sample caviar for the experience of tasting it. However, caviar also confers numerous health benefits, including:

  • High nutritional value: 1-ounce serving of caviar has 75 calories, 7 grams of protein and a significant amount of vitamin B12. The amount of vitamin B12 caviar contains exceeds your daily needs. Caviar is also an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits. 
  • Improved skin health: These omega-3 fatty acids might stimulate adiponectin production. Adiponectin prevents the breakdown of collagen fibers, enhances your skin's wound healing and anti-inflammatory processes, and supports collagen synthesis.
  • Improved heart health: Omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure, prevent platelets from forming clots and improve blood cholesterol levels.
  • Improved brain and mental health: The omega-3 fatty acids can also improve mood disorders, fight brain cell inflammation and maintain brain structure.

Types of Caviar

Each caviar provides a unique experience. They come from various sturgeon species and are available in a range of flavors, colors and textures. The five most popular types of caviar are:

  • Beluga: Beluga is a rare, esteemed caviar. Because of the low population of beluga sturgeons, you can only obtain this caviar from specific areas in the Caspian Sea or Amur River. Still, it isn't imported into the United States. This caviar ranges from light to dark gray and has a buttery texture.
  • Kaluga: This caviar has a similar flavor and texture to beluga but is saltier. However, it can satiate your craving for beluga.
  • Ossetra: Ossetra caviar is as luxurious as beluga. Its pearls are radiant shades of stunning jade, gold, amber and brown. It has a rich and nutty flavor and a smooth texture.
  • American: Caviar is thought of as exotic and international, but there are many sturgeons found in America that taste delightful. For instance, American white sturgeon and hackleback caviar have similar flavor profiles to caviar from the East. However, make sure to read labels carefully when selecting American caviar. American caviar can refer to any species of American roe, and true caviar only comes from sturgeon — not other roe species, even those related to the sturgeon. 
  • Sevruga: Sevruga caviar is rare in its true form because the Siberian sturgeon population is low. This caviar is dark or light gray, like beluga. It has a creamy texture and earthy taste.

How Is Caviar Cured?

Caviar is cured to preserve its freshness. The curing process involves salting the caviar, and the amount of salt used varies based on the quality of the eggs. At least some salt is required to classify the eggs as caviar. 

The curing process occurs after the eggs are separated from the membranes and the impurities are removed. Then the eggs are washed, making them finally ready to be cured. To cure the caviar, eggs are submerged in a saline solution. The final salt content varies: 

  • Less than 3.5% salt content: Premium sturgeon caviar — like ossetra, beluga and sevruga — usually have less than 3.5% salt content. This caviar is labeled "malossol" or "little salt." Caviar made with less salt is usually of higher quality but is also more delicate with a shorter life span. 
  • 5%-9% salt content: Larger batches of commercial caviar can have a salt content between 5% and 9%. Most caviar producers try to keep salt content below 10%. 
  • Over 10% salt content: "Payusnaya" pressed caviar products and caviar paste usually have a higher salt content that's over 10% to ensure preservation. These products have the longest shelf life. 

The curing process can bring out caviar's flavor and help preserve caviar, but caviar is still a dish best enjoyed fresh. Malossol caviars should be eaten within four weeks of opening, and even the saltier varieties that last longer tend to taste better the sooner they're eaten. 

How to Enjoy Raw Caviar Like a Connoisseur

Traditionally, people consume caviar by itself or with accompaniments. They take small portions of it and let the pearls roll around their mouths so they can relish its texture and initial flavor. After savoring its texture, people gently crush the eggs by pressing them against their palate with their tongues. Crushing the eggs this way allows you to enjoy the flavorful, runny juices. Popular caviar complements include:

  • Blinis: Blinis are Eastern European crepes or pancakes made with wheat flour. People often top them with caviar and crème fraîche. 
  • Crackers: Select unsalted crackers so they don't overpower caviar's taste.
  • Baguettes: Fresh, lighted toasted baguettes enhance caviar's flavor.
  • Chips: Lightly salted or unsalted potato, pita and kettle chips suit caviar.
  • Dairy products: After you choose a carb base, many people top caviar with a dairy product like cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, butter or whipped cream.
  • Garnish: You can top caviar off with green onions or boiled eggs.

Shop Premium Caviar From Imperia Caviar

Anyone who knows caviar knows there's a difference between high-quality and low-quality caviar. High-quality caviar allows you to enjoy its flavors without an overpowering salty taste. But, because of overfishing, high-quality caviar is harder to obtain. Or, it was until Imperia Caviar.

Imperia Caviar can offer you this delicious delicacy at a reasonable price. We've partnered with farms worldwide to bring you the best caviar. All our caviar is from sturgeon species originating in the Caspian Sea and Amur River. Our goal is to make high-quality, fresh caviar more accessible. Explore our selection of premium caviar today so you can understand why so many people covet it.

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