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Virgin salmon roe

Yarra Valley Caviar is for the first time launching a premium line of roe from young salmon, who have never been milked before, as part of its 2012 caviar harvest.

At just three years old, the caviar from this young fresh water Atlantic Salmon is softer and more palatable – making it effectively the ‘veal’ of the salmon family.

The caviar is taken as it comes from the salmon after milking and simply brined on site at the farm, at the base of the Rubicon River, using Murray River pink salt flakes and organic sugar, and packaged in 40-gram traditional tins.

Available in limited supply from June, given the quantities of salmon available, it is already being requested by restaurants around the country as an entrée.

In addition to its premium line, Yarra Valley Caviar is also producing its award winning quality caviar – with some 50,000 salmon being individually hand-milked for this year’s harvest, resulting in about 14 tonne of caviar – two tonne of which will be from the three year old salmon.

The reason the caviar is so highly regarded, General Manager Mark Fox says, is because of the farm’s strict policy of ensuring the fish are treated humanely.

“We naturally anaesthetise our salmon with clove oil and then gently massage them by hand and place them in a recovery pond, before they go back in their earthen ponds until the next year. “By timing this precisely, the caviar simply flows out without any unnecessary stress put on our salmon, and the result is caviar that is plump and flawless.”

Operations Manager Nick Gorman says the farm’s natural processes also play a part in the demand for the product.

“We truly believe that treating our fish humanely has a direct impact on the quality of the caviar, and the flesh of the fish, so we won’t use antibiotics, hormones or chemicals, and give our fish plenty of space to move.”

Following all of the UK soil association guidelines for organic aquaculture, the farm can ensure it sets the benchmark in not only the way it treats its salmon, but the sustainability of the river and surrounding environment.

As the only dedicated producer of fresh water salmon in Victoria, Yarra Valley Caviar also produces a seasonal salmon in the summer months.

Its products can be found in some of the country’s best restaurants, gourmet delis and farmers’ markets.

Milking takes place for four weeks during May.

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