While caviar is one of the most luxurious foods in the world, no one ever said that it was easy to handle. Due to caviar’s delicate nature, it must be stored properly so that it doesn’t end up going bad.
So, can caviar be stored at room temperature? Yes, caviar can be stored at room temperature. However, caviar has to be pasteurized so that it can last in a room temperature setting, and this can negatively affect the quality of the caviar.
Stick with us to hear some more details about how pasteurization affects the quality of your caviar and whether the convenience of being able to store it outside of the refrigerator is worth those downsides.
How Can Caviar Be Stored at Room Temperature?
If you don’t want your caviar to go bad and make you sick, you’ll typically have to store it in the refrigerator. Caviar that must always be stored in the fridge is known as “fresh” caviar, though it has little to do with its freshness, but rather due to its lack of being pasteurized.
When caviar is pasteurized, it is exposed to temperatures of over 200 degrees F for an extended period of time. This kills off most of the bacteria present in the caviar and ensures that it can’t grow into a potentially harmful culture if the tin of caviar is left out of the refrigerator.
Here’s what we’ll be going into detail about:
- What does pasteurization do to caviar?
- How should you store pasteurized caviar?
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How is Caviar Affected by Pasteurization?
To make the pasteurization process possible, caviar needs to have 6% of salt added to it. Unfortunately, this upsets the delicate balance of flavors and wears away at the external membrane of the individual eggs.
When it comes to the flavor, pasteurized caviar has a much saltier flavor, but that isn’t the only issue. The natural flavor of caviar is relatively delicate, meaning that it’s hard to enjoy the nuances if you don’t have a lot of experience eating caviar.
When a bunch of salt is added to something like caviar, which has a delicate flavor, it will upset the balance and make salt the most noticeable ingredient. This has the unfortunate downside of overpowering the natural flavors of the caviar and making it less of a unique experience.
There are plenty of salty foods that you can eat without paying an exorbitant price. Pasteurization also reduces the value of caviar, and most caviar connoisseurs frown on it.
Pasteurization will also make caviar less textured, making it more reminiscent of caviar that has been frozen or fertilized. Instead of having its typical crunch, you can expect pasteurized caviar to be a little softer.
While pasteurized caviar may not be that much softer than typical caviar, the difference is apparent enough to be noticed by caviar lovers.
However, if you want to transport large quantities of caviar without having to rely on refrigerated trucks or shipping containers, pasteurized caviar makes the process a lot more convenient for both the shipper and the recipient.
How Should Pasteurized Caviar Be Stored?
You may have heard that pasteurized caviar can be stored indefinitely outside of the refrigerator, but this is untrue. That being said, when caviar is pasteurized it can be stored for far longer than caviar that hasn’t gone through the process.
It’s recommended that you store pasteurized caviar for no longer than sixty days after it has arrived at your home. While you may be theoretically able to store it for longer, this is a safe guideline to ensure that the caviar doesn’t end up going bad or that it doesn’t lose more of its flavor or texture.
Once you have opened a tin of pasteurized caviar, you lose all of the benefits of being able to store it for longer. Much like standard caviar, you should try and consume pasteurized caviar all at once when you open it, though it can be stored for a few days longer (no more than three).
Here’s a table outlining the differences between pasteurized and unpasteurized caviar:
|Unpasteurized caviar||Pasteurized caviar|
|Texture||Full, crunchy texture||Slightly softer|
|Can it be stored unrefrigerated?||No||Yes|
|How long can it be stored unopened?||Until the “best before” date||60 days|
What Other Foods and Drinks Use Pasteurization?
The most likely place you’ve seen the term “pasteurization” before is on your milk carton. Until the process of pasteurization was invented in the early 1900s, milk was liable to develop bacteria that could potentially make you sick or even turn lethal. However, milk isn’t the only thing that’s pasteurized.
Even fruit juices undergo pasteurization so that they can be stored and remain shelf-stable. That’s why you’ll typically see unrefrigerated cartons of juice when you go to the market. Other foods and drinks that are pasteurized include eggs, cheese, ice cream, honey, and more.
Other Ways to Improve the Shelf Life of Caviar
Like most other foods, you can prolong the shelf life of your caviar by freezing it, and we’ve written a whole article on freezing caviar right here. To sum things up for you, freezing caviar has a few downsides, but if you don’t have any choice and you need your caviar to last longer, you should indeed freeze it.
Some of the disadvantages of freezing caviar include diminishing the flavor, as it becomes more subdued. Another issue with frozen caviar is that it can potentially damage the membrane around the eggs, making them less crunchy and more mushy. The more you freeze and thaw caviar, the worse these downsides get.
On the other hand, if you want to prolong your caviar’s storage life and it’s not pasteurized, you’ll want to be sure that you’re storing it properly. Caviar should be refrigerated at temperatures of around 27 degrees F, so it should be stored in the coldest part of your fridge.