As a rule, high-grade salmon caviar has a consistent bright, red-orange outer color with a center the color and consistency of honey. Eggs should be shiny and slightly transparent, whole (not broken or squashed) and easily separated from one another. In general, caviar is graded on the basis of egg size (larger is better), salt content (lower is better) and drip (zero is best). High-grade caviar eggs should be firm but pliable to pressure without breakage. Alaska salmon caviar should have a mild, pleasant smell and a rich taste.
To provide additional product safety and increase shelf life, some salmon caviar is sold pasteurized. Product taste is not significantly affected by pasteurization. Pasteurized product may be softer, lighter in color, and less shiny in appearance than non-pasteurized product. More juice is also accepted in non-pasteurized product. In general, higher-grade caviar can withstand the pasteurization process best.
Some Alaska producers pack caviar in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) trays. These are sealed trays that are either flushed with nitrogen gas to remove the oxygen, or contain packets of oxygen-consuming granules. By minimizing the oxidation of oils in the eggs, the frozen shelf life can be increased.
Salmon caviar can be frozen to increase shelf life. As with pasteurization, higher quality product is better suited for freezing. While other types of caviar, such as sturgeon, are not suited for freezing, salmon eggs have thick membranes that prevent damage. The salt content in salmon caviar causes freezing to take place at low temperatures. For long-term storage, -40° C is recommended. Thawing should take place slowly in order to preserve quality. Caviar in wholesale packages is normally kept frozen below -10° C.
Salmon roe thawing takes 10-12 hours with the temperature 1-4 °С. This way, the salmon roe conserves its form and all the vitamins. After thawing, it can be stored for 5 days.
Alaska salmon roe is a wild, natural product high in lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Alaska salmon roe products are chiefly enjoyed in the form of two delicacies: caviar and sujiko.