How Russian Sturgeon Caviar Is Farmed and Processed — How To Make It


– Today we’re learning how caviar is made. From Sturgeon! Ooh. Russian sturgeon produce
one of the most expensive and sought-after caviar,
and it’s almost always imported from Russia and Europe. You usually don’t find it
raised in the US at all, but Marshallberg Farms is
producing top quality caviar in North Carolina, using
sustainable aquaculture to raise the species,
decreasing the demand on wild populations for this most profitable and high demand delicacy. – Hello! – Hi Sabine nice to meet you! – Hi nice to meet you,
welcome to Marshallberg Farm! – Thank you! – This is product from
four different females, so you can see how different. This is the same species for
all the Russian sturgeon, that’s a superior grade right
there that you’re having. – So this is the top grade, superior? – Yeah. – I mean for people that
have not had caviar, it’s sort of what you’d
expect by looking at it. They’re these tiny little
burst in your mouth eggs that are just so fresh
and delicate and firm and just kind of pop. It’s so delicious. – We raise Russian sturgeon in here. Russian sturgeon is one out
of 27 species of Sturgeon. – Beluga is top tier, and
this is Ossetra, right? – Ossetra, correct. – Which is still up there,
really highly regarded. – So those are fingerlings right here. This is where we first add the fish into. It’s better to put them in a smaller tank, because you have better control over them. – How long does the process
take from start to finish? – About seven years,
it’s a very long process. – So, does that essentially
mean that every seven years you are starting over? – Well out of a whole tank
of females at seven years, we may harvest 10 or 20
percent that have the quality and the standard that we
want, the rest we will let go into another cycle, and then
look at them the next year. – They start in here, and
then once they’re big enough they’re transferred to the
tanks in the other room? – Yes, and then when they’re
ready at about seven years, then we can take some females
out, stage them and harvest. And we try to harvest only
what we feel is the top quality that can compare to wild-caught product. That’s essentially what
we’re trying to do, we want to counter wild-caught Sturgeon. Marshallberg Farms believes
that farming sturgeon can help wild populations survive. So you can’t see from the
outside what a sturgeon is, if it’s a male or a female, you know. – Interesting. – It’s just a mystery, so
you have to look inside of the sturgeon, you have to
screen them with ultrasound. – You’re pulling fish
out by hand, one by one, and ultrasounding them? – Yes? – They’re huge, they’re like mini sharks. And I have to stick my
hands in there. (laughs) – Walk like a farmer. (laughs) – Like. – Yeah there you go. (laughs) This is James Harwick from Metallica. (laughing) – Decided to take up fish farming. (laughing) – So we’re just kind of like, taking the nose up, super easy. – Just like that. – I’m terrified I’m gonna drop one. – You got it. Pick it up, pick it up. – Go go go go! Don’t give up. – Hold on hold on. – I don’t wanna drop it! Five hours later. – Quick quick quick quick quick! – Now hold it tight, hold it tight! – Woo! (cheering) – We use an electric current
to calm the fish down, it’s a little tingle. – Yeah it’s so slight. – You take them out and
they’re awake, so that’s why we don’t like to use sedatives or CO2, this is really the best method. – There you go, good job. We’re looking at the muscle,
right here, that’s the muscle. Underneath is the gonad, right there, so that shows me the white
frickly stuff is that that female is not ready yet. That one might have something, maybe. You stick a little, you
see the eggs right there? So that one’s not ready
yet, but she’s close. – She already has eggs,
they’re starting to get some coloration to them, so we’re
gonna probably look at this one again in two to three months. – Big fish. – Here you see the eggs,
see how this is all the way filled, on the
other one it was kind of ended here and you saw all
the guts on the bottom. Here this fish is completely
packed full with eggs. So now we’re gonna do
a biopsy here as well. You see, this one is more
of an amber color here. – So the color’s different. – Oh it’s always different. It’s nothing that we can really influence, the color is what it is. And you can see egg size
is nice, we want them to be more than two and a half. They’re good. They’re good to go! So this is our staging
facility, staging meaning purging the fish from any adverse taste that may be present in the eggs. – So they’re being put
in cleaner water or? – Yes. There’s always a concern
about animal welfare in fish farming, you will
not achieve your goal of a high quality product
without keeping your fish happy. They’re ready to go pretty
much, we make sure that throughout the staging process
they have not reabsorbed their eggs and the quality is still good. If they have, it’s not a
huge deal, we put them back into the conduction
tank, we feed them again, and we just have to wait
another year or two. – So you are saying that
if they’re stressed out in any way, they will reabsorb their eggs? – Exactly. – So how are they euthanized? – So we use stunning,
remove them from the tank, we use a hammer and we
hit them right away. So it’s a matter of five seconds
and the fish is euthanized, so if you think about
it, in wild fisheries, how do they do it? They throw them on a
boat, and they suffocate. And we’re going to transfer
this to a bowl of ice. That is the row. – So then what do you do with the fish? – We try to use everything. – That’s really important. – First thing, is the
swim bladder right here, you can use that for isinglass. It’s very popular in beer filtering and also restoration of paintings. And then we utilize all
other kinds of parts, you know the whole fish, the meat. – You’re selling the
meat of the fish as well, – Yes. – How many will you harvest within a day? – Up to 14. – Oh wow. It’s more firm than I thought. What’s the grading system? – We only have two major
grades and that’s the superior that’s our highest grade and the classic. The superior has the largest
egg, typically lighter shades, and a very firm texture after salting. Now the classic still, they’re
just a little bit softer in texture and they tend to be
a little darker in egg shade. – How much do you sell your premium? – So the at whole sale price
we sell it for $1300 a kilo, and then retail it’ll be much more. And then the classic goes for $950 a kilo. Some distributors, some restaurants, and then we have a retail
shop for customers. Now we are going to rinse this. Lisa over here is gonna calculate salt. 80 and I wanna verify that. 80, verified. – And what kind of salt is this, it’s super fine. – Its a mine salt. And now its the time
when you kind of decide the initial grade. – It’s so, so good. It’s firm and like, tiny little bursts. Amber, 2.5. So it has kind of a brownish touch to it, and firm that’s just for the texture, ’cause it does pop in the mouth, it doesn’t like easily mush. – You were mentioning some
people like to age their caviar. – Mhm, yes so the aging process
does make quite a difference in the flavor of the product. That is very typical,
that the caviar gets aged to about three months typically. – How much does that sell for? – Will go for between $950 and
$1300, so this is a kilogram. You don’t absolutely do not
want any air in this tin. If that happens, what’s
gonna happen a month later is it’s going to literally
start tasting very fishy. – This is like a caviar snow cone. – It is. (laughing) – Thank you so much for taking me through your facility today, it was a really rewarding special day. This has just, in a way
changed my view on farmed fish. – I think you did really well today. – Oh thank you. – You did a very good
job, you handled the fish. – Took a little while to
get those fish out of there. – You didn’t drop a fish. – For more How To Make It, click here.

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