Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some Caviar Caveats…

Continuing the survey of the images that run across the top of the page…let’s see…we’ve done the one on the far left…the Bacchus/Bacchante piece…and the 1930s mug shot of a bad check writer from Pennsylvania. This post will be about the vintage caviar tin that is in between those two.
True caviar is the unfertilized eggs of a specific type of sturgeon. Processed and salted, the eggs...also known as roe...are a luxury gourmet item, with some varieties advertised at upwards of $10,000 per kilo…that’s more than $4500 a pound!

Here are some caviar caveats…

In most cases, caviar is delivered to a re-seller packaged in a tin such as these vintage containers…
Beluga is the rarest variety. It comes in a blue tin and has dark, black eggs of the largest diameter or grain...about 2.5mm. A tin of the size of our largest Beluga example...6.25 inches in diameter and 3.25 inches high…would have had its contents divided into smaller, more marketable jars....or else someone was very rich, indeed or perhaps expecting an enormous number of hungry guests! The smaller of our Beluga tins…the blue tin on the far left…measures 4.9375 inches in diameter and 1.3125 inches high.

Other varieties include Osetra which is packaged in a yellow tin and Sevruga (red tin).

Caviar is highly can be pasteurized to extend its shelf life, but not without the quality of the product suffering significant loss. Once a caviar container is opened, the contents must be consumed within a couple of days.

Malossol is a Russian word meaning "little salt"...this signifies a caviar that is both the freshest and of the highest quality.

Guriev is the former name of a port on the Caspian is now known as Atyraü, Kazakstan.

There are 280 calories in 100 grams of caviar.

A sterling silver spoon is not to be used with caviar as it imparts an unpleasant metallic taste...instead, tradition calls for a mother of pearl utensil for serving.

In ancient Egypt, caviar was offered to the feline deities; in the newly-industrialized nations of the nineteenth century, caviar was reserved for the wealthy and served at prestigious functions; in eastern Europe, caviar is more democratic and is served at any festive occasion...birthdays, weddings, etc.

A high-quality caviar should not be served masked with onions, eggs, capers, and the like...caviar connoisseurs insist that it is best served heaped upon a small piece of thin, toasted bread that has been spread with vodka-infused butter.

Sturgeons are believed to be one of the oldest survivors of the prehistoric age, but pollution and over-fishing have taken a toll and it is now on the list of endangered species. Russia has ceased all fishing for sturgeon in the hopes of protecting the species.

The red tin in the group photograph measures 4.125 inches in diameter and 1.125 inches high...the caviar it once contained came from Iran. Iran continues to fish for sturgeon.  In 1956, the government of Iran granted a monopoly for the processing of its caviar to a French firm...the product is known as Caviar Volga.

Russian caviar and Iranian caviar are different owing to the peculiarities of the waters and depths of the Caspian sea...each variety has its proponents. (Iranian caviar has been banned from being exported into the United States since the 1970s).

Sevruga caviar comes from the smallest sturgeon...perhaps a meter in length and weighing around 30 to 40 pounds. The roe is characterized by its small...1mm diameter...grains and is prized for its intense flavor.
invbelugalrgsideEmptied of caviar by the time we found them…these tins would add a wonderful touch of color atop a kitchen cabinet for example…and each would surely spark some interesting conversation. They would also be great as unique storage tins for all those things that need to be stored…sewing tools and buttons…what have you!

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes adventures of The Meadows Collection…or check out the results at

1 comment:

  1. Where have I been? I'm just now discovering that you have started this lovely blog. I've added it to my Blog Roll on the sidebar of HFTS. You know I'll be by to visit often.
    Caviar ~ not my favorite, but I do have a funny caviar story in my past. I'll share it the next time we see you. Hopefully this coming fall. ;-)
    ~ Sarah