Why Does Caviar Turn Blue? Fish Eggs or Smurf Eggs?

When you open a can of caviar and see that it’s blue, don’t worry about anything having gone wrong with it, because that’s the intended effect.

So why does caviar turn blue? Certain types of Icelandic capelin caviar are dyed blue during the production process. Capelin roe typically has an uninspiring yellow color, so it is dyed to make it look more appetizing. Some brands also make caviar in bright, eye-catching colors so that people can recognize their product as soon as they see it.

Why Does Caviar Turn Blue?

Of course, there’s a lot to elaborate on when it comes to the topic of your caviar being blue. Deeper in the guide, I’ll explore some of the reasons why caviar is dyed in the first place, and I’ll also take a look at some other forms of caviar and roe that are traditionally dyed while they’re being prepared.

Why Does Caviar Turn Blue?

As I’ve already mentioned, the most common type of caviar that you’ll find turning blue is capelin caviar from Iceland.

This is a relatively affordable type of caviar that won’t really compete with the heavyweights like ossetra or beluga, the most expensive caviar in the world.

In fact, since blue caviar is harvested from the capelin, some connoisseurs wouldn’t even consider it caviar at all, but rather roe. In fact, this is the kind of roe that is named masago in Japanese cuisine, so if you’ve ever eaten caviar with your sushi, you’ve likely had capelin roe before.

Capelin roe typically has an uninspiring yellow color, so it will typically be dyed to make it seem more palatable. A lot of capelin roe is dyed black to give people the impression that they’re eating something akin to caviar, though there may be some mistakes in the dye mixing process.

Since some black dyes are composed of several other colors, sometimes including blue, an imbalance in the dyes used could result in you getting bright blue caviar rather than black caviar. Since the dyes used to color caviar tend to be safe, you won’t have to worry about any effects on your health caused by eating it.

Another reason why your caviar may be blue is because that’s how it’s intended to look. Some brands will make caviar in bright, eye-catching colors so that people can recognize their product as soon as they see it. Since blue is a relatively rare color for caviar, it tends to be a great choice for standing out.

This strategy can also have some downsides, as some customers may not be fully comfortable with eating caviar that’s bright blue. It’s possible that you were even one of them and you searched up “blue caviar” on Google to figure out whether or not your tin of capelin caviar is safe to eat.

How Should I Serve my Blue Capelin Caviar?

There are a few ways you can choose to serve your blue capelin caviar, and many connoisseurs would recommend eating it on its own. If you’ve never had the caviar before, I’d highly recommend getting out your caviar spoon and taking a spoonful of it directly from the jar.

Once you’ve figured out what the caviar tastes like and you’ve adjusted your palate to it, you have a few things that you can serve it with:

  • Egg yolks
  • Crackers
  • Bagels
  • A hint of lemon

If you want to add some lemon to your capelin caviar, don’t put it directly in the jar, but instead squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on top of each spoonful of caviar.

Blue capelin caviar is typically served on a bagel with cream cheese, as well. You’ll want to spread the cream cheese over the bagel first and then lightly spread the blue capelin roe over the top of it so that it sticks to the cream cheese and doesn’t roll off of the top of the bagel.

Can I Remove the Blue Dye from my Caviar?

If you’re uncomfortable with the blue hue of your caviar, there are a few things you can do to remove the dye from it. The first thing you can do is put the caviar in a strainer that it would fall through and then run water through the caviar. Make sure that you only use cold water for this.

You can also use a coffee filter to get the blue dye off of your caviar, but make sure that you’re delicate with it so that you don’t end up popping any of the eggs. Keep in mind that you may lose a few of the caviar eggs while you’re doing this, so be prepared for a few losses.

Is it Normal to Dye Caviar?

Dyes are frequently used in both caviar and other kinds of roe. Perhaps the most notable case of roe being dyed is in Japanese cuisine. While the eggs are still raw, they’re immersed in a dye that seeps into them until they take on that color, and these dyes tend to be brightly colored and easily identifiable.

Some of the most common colors that are used to dye Japanese caviar include red, yellow, orange, and green. Blue is relatively rare in Japanese cuisine, and you’ll typically only find blue  dyes used to color Icelandic capelin roe.

Much like in Iceland, these dyes are used to make the roe seem less boring since capelin roe tends to have an unappetizing yellow color.

Even non-Japanese types of fish roe can sometimes be dyed. You may even find some sturgeon caviar that is dyed black to make it seem like it’s of higher quality. Keep in mind that top-quality caviar typically won’t have any dyes in it because it will naturally have the kind of color that customers will look for.

In fact, the color of your caviar is part of the grading process that is used to determine the quality of a batch of caviar.