Nothing can compare to sitting down with a tin of caviar and some fine appetizers, but have you ever stopped to think about whether or not your caviar is fertilized.
So are caviar eggs fertilized? Caviar sold for human consumption is never fertilized. There are a few reasons why caviar cannot be fertilized if it will be eaten, including the diminishment of both the trademark flavor and texture of the eggs.
Stick around if you’d like to learn more about the caviar fertilization and ovulation processes. We’ll also discuss why edible caviar isn’t fertilized in greater detail and give you a better idea of what caviar would be like if it was fertilized.
Are Caviar Eggs Fertilized?
As you may know, fish are oviparous animals, which means that they reproduce by laying eggs instead of giving birth like mammals. Harvesting good caviar is contingent on the stage of the fish’s reproductive process, as there is a relatively short window in which the fish eggs are ideal.
Fertilized caviar eggs will not be suitable for human consumption because the fish has already ovulated. When fish ovulate, they drop their eggs (a process known as spawning), and the exterior of the eggs begins to wear away, making them easier to fertilize.
See, the issue isn’t in the eggs being fertilized, but rather that the eggs have already ovulated. There are a few adverse effects due to the eggs’ ovulation:
- Loss of flavor
- Mushy texture
- Making you sick
As you can see, the problems with fertilized caviar are similar to those you’ll witness when caviar has been frozen.
Also, here are a few of the differences between ovulated and fertilized fish eggs:
|Expelled by the female fish (spawned)||Inseminated by the male fish|
|Moderate degradation of the membrane||Full degradation of the membrane|
One of the most important things about good caviar is its texture. The trademark crunch of quality caviar is usually the first thing that you notice when you eat a spoonful, and fertilized or ovulated caviar lacks this as it quickly turns mushy.
This is due to the lining of the eggs slowly breaking down once they have ovulated. If the egg lining were to remain intact, then sperm wouldn’t be able to penetrate the eggs and fish wouldn’t be able to reproduce, so ovulated eggs are often worthless to caviar farmers.
High-quality caviar is known for its intense, fishy flavor, but the minute the eggs are spawned or fertilized, they start to lose their trademark taste.
This is another reason why fertilized eggs aren’t harvested, but the change in flavor isn’t as drastic as the alteration of the caviar’s texture when it’s fertilized.
What Should Caviar Taste Like?
All this talk of fertilized caviar and its diminished taste may have you wondering what exactly caviar should taste like in the first place.
While some people would describe the taste of caviar as extremely fishy, the fishiness shouldn’t be the only thing that stands out to your palate.
In fact, caviar that tastes too fishy is probably not of the highest quality, as it should really have more of a delicate flavor than anything.
Along with hints of fishiness, your caviar should evoke notes of the ocean; it should have a salty tinge and taste almost like saltwater.
Most people who haven’t eaten caviar have the perception that fish eggs should taste strange because they’re hesitant to eat something like fish eggs in the first place. However, as weird as the concept of eating caviar may sound, we can assure you that the flavor isn’t as strange as one might think.
High-quality caviar should have an almost buttery flavor that remains on the tongue. As you take each bite of your caviar, every egg should be a small explosion of flavor.
Many people are disappointed when they first try caviar, as the taste is much milder than the food’s reputation would have them believe. However, after a few spoonfuls, most people who try caviar start to warm to the flavor.
The delicate flavor of high-end caviar is why many connoisseurs recommend against eating caviar with other accompaniments. The more you add to caviar, the less you’ll taste the caviar itself because of how hard you’ll have to try and parse out the flavors.
In most cases, it is recommended that caviar be eaten with crackers or sliced bread, as neither of these will have a very pronounced flavor that can overtake the caviar.
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Which Factors Can Influence the Taste of Caviar?
Now that we’ve discussed what you can expect caviar to taste like, let’s take a look at what leads to the difference in flavor between various kinds of caviar.
Caviar is a notoriously finicky food, and even two tins of the exact same caviar from the same maker can taste very different from one another.
One of the best-known factors that influence the taste of caviar is the age of the fish when it was harvested. Caviar connoisseurs know that older fish tend to produce the best caviar, and this is why most caviar farmers wait until a sturgeon is about ten years old before they harvest their eggs.
Other factors that can alter your caviar’s flavor include the quality of the water in which the fish was raised. Since a fish will spend its whole life in the water, the water will affect its health and the health of its eggs.
Also, a fish’s diet will affect how its caviar tastes, and this is similar to the effect of the water quality on the eggs. A poorer diet will result in less tasty eggs, which is why caviar farms often try to create the best possible environment for the eggs to be harvested in.
Finally, your caviar’s flavor will also depend on the exact species of fish that it has been harvested from. The fish species will also influence how the caviar is eaten. The best caviar for sushi won’t exactly be the same kind of caviar that you serve with crackers.
There are 26 species of sturgeon in the world, and some of them aren’t even harvested for food in the first place.