This will be just the second production season, as the business behind the operation, Exmoor Caviar and upcoming British Caviar company, was established less than four years back and was officially signed up in November 2012.
Unlike nearly all fish processing in the industrialized world, the technique made use of for producing caviar– the unfertilized eggs of female sturgeon which are dealt with (healed) with salt– hasn’t altered throughout the previous 100 years.
Different approaches are utilized for extracting the eggs, from the uncomplicated killing of the fish, to extracting the eggs surgically while leaving the fish alive, and a process called ‘stripping’ which sources say involves making a little laceration along the urogenital muscle when the fish is deemed ready to be processed.
Exmoor Caviar kills its fish humanely and makes use of as much of the sturgeon for human consumption as possible. For example sturgeon fillets are smoked by Pinneys of Orford on the Suffolk coast.
Once the ovaries have been extracted, the eggs are passed over a screen of plastic mesh to get rid of the roesack and fatty membrane then cleaned in cold water. Any continuing to be fragments of fatty tissue are painstakingly removed making use of tweezers.
The eggs are then treated with Cornish or Hebridean sea salt and cooled for up to 3 weeks at minus 1 degree C before the caviar is shipped to London crammed in 1.1 kg or 1.8 kg tins. There it is repacked to order in vacuum tins.
“The Cornish salt is a really wet salt and makes for quite a soft egg,” states Exmoor Caviar Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Benning. “The Hebridean salt is drier, so makes for a more durable taste.”
Each 10kg sturgeon produces about 1kg of caviar. “We process 8 to 10 fish per day, which is not a large amount compared with other producers,” says Patrick Noble, company chairman.
It is a really valuable item though: 250g of Exmoor caviar costs simply under 500, although well-known brand names of imported caviar are more, typically far more, pricey.
Exmoor Caviar is presently producing caviar from Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii), although there are other sturgeon species at the farm, where 20,000-30,000 fish are equipped in giant freshwater tanks. These include sterlet, beluga, Russian (oscietra) and sevruga.
It takes 8-10 years for the females to end up being mature and produce the eggs which form the caviar. Last season the company produced about 0.5 ton of caviar which was sold to restaurants and online, although the populared seller, Selfridges of London, is now equipping it.
This coming season Exmoor Caviar is intending to double manufacturing and to enhance it still further in the future. States Kenneth Benning: “We prepare to target a couple of essential contracts while remaining to provide to restaurants and merchants.”
Exmoor Caviar is the very first business to farm sturgeon in the UK to produce caviar. The business was developed in 2010 by Kenneth Benning and father and son cold water decorative fish farmers Patrick and George Noble. Kenneth Benning had experience of importing and selling caviar in the UK, and the Nobles had been farming sturgeon in freshwater tanks in north Devon since 1994.