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  • Caviar

    When I was in Michigan this weekend, I got 2 days on the big lake and we put 5 Chinook in the box. One fat hen was full of roe, and so I ran the skeins and took out a pint of singular eggs.

    I stirred a generous amount of Kosher salt into them, let it leech for 2 days under refridgeration, and then rinsed the eggs and repacked them back into the pint.

    They are absolutely outstanding! A plain water cracker spread with whipped cream cheese gets topped with these jewels and the stuff never lasts.

    Two ounces of commercially processed salmon roe caviar will set you back almost $12.00 in any gourmet store. I figure my pint that weighs over a pound and would have almost burned a C note.

    My only setback is that I do not how how to preserve them so that I can simply jar them up for the shelf. If anyone knows, please clue me in...
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"

  • #2
    Keeping caviar. . .

    Jack Whelen, in his Smoking Salmon & Trout (Aerie Publishing, Deep Bay, Vancouver Island, B.C., 1982), recommends storing salmon caviar in half-pint mason jars, refrigerated at 34-36 degrees F. Whelen does not advise sterilizaton or pasteurization of salmon caviar because such treatment destroys the color.

    And while we're on the subject, the book noted above is, to my mind, the bible on smoking and curing trout and salmonids. It's available from, and here is a review from that Web page:

    This book is a must for anyone interested in cold-smoking or preserving their own fish. The author covers everything from kippering to making fish sausage. However, though the book is chock-full of great information, I have a few minor editorial complaints that make me regard it as less than perfect: First, The book is arranged a bit strangely (requiring you to occasionally reference later chapters in earlier ones). Second, the procedures are a bit hard to follow (because methods using whole sides and pieces of fish are intermingled and not labeled well). Finally, the small black and white pictures aren't very elucidating. Minor complaints, but nonetheless a bit annoying. The simple fact is that even though the book falls short a bit in presentation, there is no better reference out there for someone really interested in the topic.
    Last edited by Marcus; 03-27-2007, 13:47.


    • #3
      Good stuff...

      My family also started making caviar last season, it is excellent! I have heard the chums have the most prized eggs when it comes to caviar due to the color. We usually do not leave the eggs in the salt that long, have you tried methods, salts etc?


      • #4
        Brining caviar. . .

        Whelen recommends stirring the separated eggs in a cooled, 80 percent brine (1cup, 2 tbsp. pickling salt to 1 qt. water) for 15 to 30 minutes. The eggs are salted enough when they begin to "look opalescent. Too much salt will cover-up the delicate flavor of the eggs."


        • #5
          Still stuck...

          yeah, as stated, I shove it in the cold box and that's fine for me; but I sure would like to find a way to preserve it in a jar

          I don't give a rat's rear about the egg color; and besides, that's why man invented colored food enhancements

          and as far as salmon food prep goes, I've been listening and paying attention to the AK locals for the past 20 years; the final chapter of my new work has about 15 pages devoted to those tips they've given me

          I'm still hoping somebody out there knows what I don't...

          "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


          • #6
            Google it. . .

            I just typed "preserving caviar" into Google and came up with 121,000 hits.


            • #7
              I agree with Marcus. Whelen has written the bible for smoking. We find his residual salt way too high in most products though. We've been making caviar for almost 30 years, and have found that if you cut back on the brine times, the flavor really comes up. Ours won't preserve long even in the refer, but man, is it great stuff while it lasts.

              Our solution for long term storage is to freeze the roe, then thaw cold in the refer before brining. In order to get the right texture and salt level you have to cut brining times compared to fresh roe.

              Species and stage of the run also affects brining time. Eggs late in the run when they are looser need to have brine time cut 25% over tight eggs from early in a run. Roe that has been frozen needs a 1/3 cut in brine times.

              We used to use a piece of 1/4" mesh hardware cloth like a cheese grater (gently!) to strip roe from the skeins. Then I found a deep fry basket in a local store for $5. It's also 1/4" mesh, but fits down into a bowl. That's our standard gear now.

              Brine solution for us started the same as Whelen, except we simplified it to one cup of salt to as quart of water. You need lots of brine so too much salt isn't soaked up while the eggs are curing. Basically we use no less than a quart of water per cup of loose roe.

              Here are our basic brine times by species:

              Reds- 8 min.
              Pinks- 8 min.
              Silvers- 10 min.
              Chums- 12 min.
              Kings- 14 min.

              Make your adjustments for run timing and freezing from those numbers.

              Stir more or less constantly while brining, then dump into a collander and rinse well. Allow to drain overnight in the collander in your refer.

              As a final step, gently fold in half a teaspoon of olive oil per cup of caviar to make it slide easy rather than clump together.

              Haven't tried caviar before? Add a tablespoon or two to your next salad with a cream-style dressing, especially ranch.
              "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
              Merle Haggard


              • #8
                thanks for the tips...

                I really valued the ratios from Brown Bear.

                By the way, I throw this stuff on top of fettucini and white sauce for the chef's master touch. It never ceases to amaze my dinner guests...


                (Marcus, are you really the actor, Richard Harris?)
                "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


                • #9
                  Originally posted by AlaskanAuthor View Post
                  (Marcus, are you really the actor, Richard Harris?)
                  Do you know what character Richard Harris was playing in the photo?


                  • #10
                    I can't resist this

                    It has to be Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator....right?


                    • #11
                      Right . . .


                      • #12
                        Shelf life of Caviar

                        We love Salmon Roe and have eaten it at sushi resturants for years. We recently moved to SE Alaska (POW), and have followed several of Jack Whelan's recipies for making caviar this last month. I found the smoked version fantastic but I highly recommend putting well oiled cheese cloth on the grates PRIOR to starting the smoking!

                        While Whelan says the fresh roe can be stored in 1/2 pint mason jars in the frig, he doesn't say how long it can be stored. Can anyone give me a guidline as to the shelf life in jars in the frig? Also, he says freezing damages fresh roe but is ok for the more heavily brined japanese red caviar recipe. Has anyone tried freezing the smoked roe?

                        I guess taste and trial is part of the fun but it's nice to get advice from those with successfull experience too!

                        Thanks, Becca


                        • #13
                          It starts to oxidize pretty quickly and get a "fishy" taste when you store it in the refer. I hate that flavor, so a week is about it for us. I know folks that store it a whole lot longer and like it, but not this kid. I've been given frozen ikura (Japanese version of caviar- pretty highly salted like Whelan's) prepared by techs in the canneries. It's always in 1 kg plastic tubs, so that's a whale of a lot. It keeps the best part of a year in the freezer, but you better have a good reason to thaw so much because it doesn't refreeze worth a hoot. Pretty darn "fishy" too, but when nothing else is available I can choke it down.

                          As I described earlier in the thread, we've had the best luck freezing the whole skeins (vacuum sealed is best), then thawing to make up the caviar as we need it. Note the reduced brine times for roe that's been frozen. The texture is a little softer, but the taste is best we've found for long term storage.
                          "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                          Merle Haggard


                          • #14
                            Thanks Brown Bear.
                            You gave us a great excuse to have a real caviar feast (pig-out) this weekend! In the future we'll freeze extra roe first, then use as needed (craved).

                            I re-read your earlier post with brine quantities and times. We appreciate you passing on your expertise.

                            What a fabulous treat to have both the fabulous fish and the added delicacy of the caviar too!


                            • #15
                              Here's a step by step caviar-making pic-tutorial I just put together and posted on the premiere Oregon fishing board...

                              "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
                              The KeenEye MD


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