How to Tell If Caviar Is Real?


Black caviar has always been the main decoration of the festive table in almost any family. Black caviar is extremely rare and expensive. That is why more and more dishonest sellers will try to sell fake caviar for real caviar price. Some people dye pike eggs, but some do not even use real fish eggs but gelatin. No one wants to waste money on fake or low-quality caviar, so let’s learn how to tell if caviar is real and is worth buying.

Is there fake caviar? There is a lot of fake caviar on the market with the prices for real sturgeon caviar and demand going up and supply going down because of the sturgeon population decrease and quotas for fishing. If the price of caviar is surprisingly low, it is most likely fake. 

Ultimate Guide on How to Tell If Caviar Is Real

How to tell if caviar is real? To tell if caviar is real, take a look at its appearance. There should not be any plaque on the eggs and liquid in the container. Real caviar should not have any lumps or stick together. Real caviar has practically no fish smell but has a subtle aroma of the sea. If the caviar has a pronounced fishy smell, it is most likely fake or spoiled.

How can you tell good caviar? To tell good caviar, place a few eggs in hot water. If they become soft or dissolve, it is fake caviar made from gelatin and algae. If the water is colored, it is colored caviar of another fish. Good, real sturgeon caviar does not lose color and does not dissolve in water. 

Caviar appearance. Real sturgeon caviar has a characteristic color and size of eggs. If the caviar is of even black color without shades, it is probably artificial caviar. Another sign of artificial caviar is a white coating on the surface. Pay attention to the density of caviar eggs in the package — when the package is tilted, caviar should not slide down the walls or form a sticky lump.

Taste and smell. Real caviar has practically no fish smell but has a subtle aroma of the sea. Only very few people can grasp it. If the caviar has a pronounced fishy smell, this is most likely a fake or a sign that the caviar is spoiled. The taste of sturgeon caviar is very delicate, with nutty-creamy notes, sometimes with a slight bitterness. The presence of pronounced bitterness is unacceptable, this may indicate that harmful preservatives have been added to the product, and such caviar should not be eaten.

An excess of salt is also a bad sign; most likely, such a “delicacy” was prepared in violation of the technology or the expectation of very long storage.

Put caviar in your mouth. In case you purchased real caviar, the grain will easily burst in your mouth. If it is an artificial imitation, it will not burst due to the absence of any shell, but it will be like a piece of marmalade stretching in your mouth. Typically, this caviar is made from gelatin or seaweed.

When the grains of black caviar get into boiling water, they will not dissolve in water. Simultaneously, products made from gelatin or any synthetic compounds are guaranteed to dissolve in boiling water.

Black caviar thrown into cold water will not change its color in any way. On the other hand, the artificial product’s dyes will quickly give themselves away, turning cold water into a dark color.

Container and documents. Legal black caviar is sold in tin and glass jars. Glass containers allow you to immediately visually assess the type of caviar, color, grain size. Checking the quality of caviar in a tin can is a little more difficult, but there is still a way. Shake the jar – if you think there is too much liquid in the jar, it is better not to buy such caviar.

Pay attention to the lid of the can, it should not be swollen. If the caviar is of high quality, then the container will be filled with caviar and not liquid or air. Be sure to look at the manufacturer indicated on the packaging, it should be located in territorial proximity to the production region.

Black caviar price. The price of black caviar in most cases also indicates its origin. The underpriced caviar should signal to you about the danger of purchasing a counterfeit or hazardous to health product of unknown shelf life and place of origin.

Places where you buy caviar. You need to buy black caviar only in trusted stores. It is available for sale in almost all major retail chains. But caviar at a low price from private traders is almost certainly poaching caviar, obtained by the barbaric slaughter method and salted in violation of all conceivable norms. Also, the purchase of illegally obtained caviar is direct support for the poaching industry.

Do not buy caviar, which contains food additive E-239. Until 2008, it was used as a preservative, then it was banned since when decomposed in the acidic environment of the stomach, poisonous toxic substances (formaldehyde) are released. It is permitted to add preservatives E-200, E-201, E-202, E-203, E-211, E-212, E-213 to caviar.

When storing caviar in the refrigerator, it is necessary to observe the manufacturer’s temperature regime on the package. You should not store caviar in an open tin can; it is better to transfer it to a clean, dry glass container.

Types of Counterfeit (fake) Black Caviar

  • Colored caviar of non-sturgeon fish. They use grains of caviar from pike, cod, capelin or even halibut. It can be sold separately or mixed with real black caviar.
  • Artificial imitation of seaweed caviar.
  • Artificial imitation of tinted gelatin caviar with the addition of chemicals.

I would also like to talk about the purchase of black caviar obtained by poachers. Although it is inherently not a fake, it poses a huge danger to human health. Since the usual habitat and feeding of sturgeon are the bottom, it is important to understand that all toxic and harmful substances settle there in water bodies. Real black caviar, which is sold, is produced on aquaculture farms in environmentally friendly conditions that are safe for human health.

Selling caviar is such a lucrative business that some dishonest traders do not hesitate to cheat buyers. Under the guise of black caviar, they offer imitation or even artificial caviar made from seaweed at the beluga or sturgeon price. For imitation, the caviar of pike, cod, capelin or halibut dyed with food dyes is often used. And it’s half the trouble if such caviar is sold at the appropriate price, much worse if the buyer pays for the counterfeit as for real sturgeon caviar while receiving a product that is far from the quality that he expected.

It is extremely dangerous to buy poaching caviar. In comparison with the products of aquaculture farms, such caviar is an environmentally unfriendly product. The fact is that the sturgeon belongs to bottom fish, it feeds at the very bottom, where industrial waste, toxins and other harmful substances can accumulate. Besides, poachers add harsh preservatives to the caviar, for example, boric acid, which violate the transportation conditions and temperature storage conditions.

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