Almost two years ago, I was in Paris with a friend searching some caviar. At a house of a dealer, he offered us some wild caviar to taste from the Caspian. He opened a signature blue tin, a one kilo tin and spoons out a mouthful for us to taste. The taste as I expected, perfect, sweet and fresh. The caviar was from Iran was always sweet and not salty. This didn’t fool me given I knew the cleaning and preserving processes used.
The common chemical forbidden by the Federal Drug Administration is used. The name comes from a Persian word, burak, which was used to refer to borax and other borate salts in the Middle East, picked up by the Romans, and adopted by the Middle English. Borax and related salts were used in the preservation of both food and mummies, as well as to make pottery glazes in China and as a cleaning material. In Medieval Europe, it was used as a flux in soldering, to scour metal before it was welded together.
Iranian caviar manufacturers have over the years resorted to borax, which had become their signature process as a way to guarantee the extended shelf-life of processed caviar without the negative effects, when it comes to taste, of pasteurization. The use in caviar is obvious but no wonder it is forbidden.
Life without chemicals…or is it a matter of doses?….