It is a shame as well as a waste that sturgeon fishermen do not make their own caviar. Most of the larger fish are fairly bursting with roe, and the recipe is not particularly difficult. In whipping up a batch of homemade caviar, it is necessary to remove the roe from a sturgeon as soon as it is killed. Do not wash the roe, because that softens the eggs, but place it in a wire sieve with openings large enough for the eggs to drop through, and gently rub it back and forth until the eggs separate from the fat and connective tissue. Care must be taken not to crush or bruise the individual eggs. At this point the eggs can be delicately washed with cool water. After the eggs have drained gently, blend in salt in proportions of 7 to 10 pounds of salt to 100 pounds of eggs. Mix thoroughly, still taking care not to crush or bruise the eggs, and in 10 to 15 minutes a froth will form on top of the mixture. Skim this off, spread the eggs on a screen, put in a cool place and let them drain for 10 to 12 hours.
Caviar can be stored in small oaken kegs that have been scoured, dried thoroughly and allowed to cool. It can be eaten within a few hours after preparation, but its taste is improved if it is allowed to age for at least a month. Some people store it for three months. Caviar should be kept in a cool but not too highly refrigerated place. The best temperature is between 28� and 32�.
One final hint: never mix together roe taken from different sturgeons; eggs vary in size and taste.
Fresh sturgeon can be cooked in as many ways as other fish, but most Westerners prefer it fried. Smoked sturgeon is, of course, a delicacy and can be found in specialty food shops. The Russians have another simple preparation that they call balyk. It tastes a great deal like smoked salmon and is made by putting pieces of sturgeon in a tub, being careful that they do not touch, and then covering them with a thick layer of salt. A light sprinkling of saltpeter is added to give the fish a reddish color. After nine to 12 days the meat is removed and soaked in fresh water until all traces of salt disappear. It is then placed in the sun until completely dry and moved to an airy, shady spot until it begins to develop a slight mold, which shows it is cured. This last process takes a month to six weeks to complete.