After you’ve bought or received your caviar or roe, you should keep it as cold as possible, short of freezing, before you actually open and serve it.
The experts we talked to recommend storing it in the coldest part of your refrigerator—usually in the back on either the top or middle shelf. Keep the tin or jar in its insulated bag or cooler, if it came with one. And for the best results, keep an ice pack on top of the tin or jar itself, changing it out as it starts to defrost.
Stored this way, your caviar or roe can keep for three to five weeks as long as you don’t open the container, though most farms and retailers recommend consuming it sooner than that.
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Once you open the tin, you should aim to consume all the caviar or roe within 24 hours, as the eggs will start to degrade once they’re exposed to air. They’ll still be safe to eat after a day, but they’ll lose some of their nuances, and their texture will become softer over time.
Whatever you do, don’t freeze your caviar or roe. While some caviar and roe producers freeze their product for either storage or transit, they do so in industrial-quality blast freezers that chill the product extremely quickly, reducing or eliminating the growth of large ice crystals that can damage the delicate eggs.
Home freezers aren’t powerful enough to freeze your fish eggs fast enough. If you stick your caviar or roe in the freezer, those large crystals will grow, puncturing the egg shells and leaving you with a pool of salty fish fat that drains out of the eggs when you defrost them.