Before buying caviar you should consider buying farmed roe. The Caspian sea has been so dramatically overfished that there has been a 90% drop in the Beluga sturgeon population in the last twenty years. In September 2005, the U.S. government banned the importation of Beluga caviar from the Caspian sea, but all wild sturgeon populations are in trouble. For more information on sustainable caviar options check out caviaremptor.org. You can also read up on the endangered sturgeon here.
Other types of Caviar
Caviar from the United States is getting better, and can be quite excellent, sometimes comparable to Osetra. A good portion of this comes from Kentucky. Try it sometime!
Caviar is expensive so it's important to be know how to buy and what you're buying. Here are some helpful tips for a successful caviar buying experience.
* '''Packaging''': Caviar is originally packaged in 4 pound tin containers and then exported. Importers then repackage the caviar into what is usually 1 ounce containers. Beluga caviar is always in blue tins, Osetra in yellow, and Sevruga in red.
* '''Keeping It Fresh''': Caviar only has a shelf life of approximately 3 to 4 weeks unopened. Once unopened, it should be kept in a refrigerator at a temperature of 30 degrees, and even then it must be consumed within the next three days. Therefore, make sure to ask about dates when you buy caviar and to only buy as much as you need. Also, don't freeze caviar except domestic Golden Whitefish caviar and Salmon caviar.
* '''Where To Go''': Normal supermarkets don't usually carry the gourmet, expensive stuff that you're looking for, so don't get fooled by what looks like caviar. Make it a point to go to a high-end supermarket, or somewhere that specializes in caviar to make your purchase. Also, try a sample if you can before buying.
* '''Cost''': Expect to pay somewhere between 90-$150 for an ounce.
* Caviar should always be served chilled in non-metallic vessels.
* Most caviar serving bowls have a glass interior bowl that rests on a layer of ice contained by a silver exterior bowl.
* Utensils or bowls made of metals such as silver can impart a metallic taste to the delicate roe.
* Wood, plastic, and mother-of-pearl are popular alternatives for serving plates and utensils.
* You should remove the caviar from the refrigerator approximately 15 minutes before eating and only remove the lid at the moment right before serving.
* Caviar is usually served with small pieces of toast, potatoes, and blini, which are small pancakes. Avoid using any sort of garnish (it takes away from the flavor of the caviar).
* Vodka or champagne are what usually accompanies caviar. Although it ultimately comes down to personal taste, it is best not to let whatever you drink affect your palate, as it distracts from the taste of the caviar.
* Encourage your guests to try bursting the caviar with the tip of their tongues. That is the best way to get the full taste of caviar.
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