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History of Red Caviar

Caviar has been documented as far back in history as the 13th century. At the time, it was black sturgeon caviar being served to Russian tsars and nobility. In the Russian language, the root words for “beautiful” and “red” are the same. Historians of the 13th century, writing about black sturgeon caviar referred to it as “beautiful” caviar. Later, in the 1800’s it was referred to as “red caviar”, despite its black color, because that is what Russian people had been calling it for years. In point of fact, it is salmon caviar, not sturgeon, which is truly red in color.

Some sources inaccurately cite red salmon caviar as existing for as long as 400 years. It wasn’t until relatively recently, in the late 19th century, during the exploration of the Far East, that salmon roe was discovered. At first it was only salted and then eaten whole, in the skein, or egg sack. In Russia, that product was very cheap, only costing 20 kopecks for 30 pounds, but did not become popular, mostly due to the fact that its unprocessed state did not do much to improve the initial flavor. It wasn’t until the roe was processed as grained red caviar, about 100 years ago, that it increased in popularity. Grained salmon caviar was cultured in a similar process to that of sturgeon caviar. The roe was separated from the skein and rubbed through a sieve. Rather than using drying salt as with the traditional technique of making grained caviar, salmon caviar was salted with saturated brine. It was then chilled and delivered to the western parts of Russia and becoming the standard of caviar Russians expect and demand. salmon fishing Grained red salmon caviar became well-liked in other parts of the world as well. Japanese people wanted this product for its distinctive, red color and exquisite taste. Because of the product’s high demand, they decided to learn how to make grained salmon caviar themselves, which was named “ikura,” closely resembling the Russian word for caviar “ikra”. With its increasing popularity, red, grained salmon caviar began to compete with the traditional black sturgeon caviar. pink and sockeye salmon Salmon caviar gained its nickname, “red caviar,” in the USSR when the name referred to the color to more easily differentiate salmon caviar from sturgeon caviar. In the Soviet Union, salmon caviar sales and production were highly-regulated by the government so the caviar was produced exclusively in the standard 140-gram can. Both black and red caviars were very scarce and could only be obtained through close connections with a caviar vendor. Caviar never appeared on shelves; it was always sold out before it could be displayed in the store.

Today in Russia, red caviar is widely available. Since the Russian government no longer regulates it, manufacturers and distributors of red caviar must compete for customers as with any other free-market economy.

People in the Far East knew about the exciting properties of roe for a long time. Traditionally, newly-weds were treated with roe on their wedding night to help add to the couple’s enjoyment.

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