Fishing for the raw product vendace is exclusively conducted using nets with a mesh size of at least 16.5 mm. This means selective fishing where only the largest fish are caught, while smaller fish go through the nets. Fishing for vendace is carried out with smaller fishing boats and can only be conducted by licensed professional fishermen with permits issued by the Marine and Water Authority. Each fisherman is allowed to use a maximum of 1400 metres of netting.
Vendace fishing is conducted in Sweden’s largest lake, Vänern. Its water is of drinking quality and about 800 000 people get their water from the lake.
Vendace fishing is regulated and limited to the period between October 17 and December 17.
Vendace roe production
Raw material requirements
There are daily landings, and the catch is prepared adjacent to the landing site. Preparation begins immediately after the catch is landed. It begins with the fish being shaken from the nets using special shaking machines.
Squeezing, whisking and rinsing
The roe is squeezed from the fish by hand. Once the roe is extracted from the vendace, the eggs are carefully whisked. The purpose of the whisking is clearing the eggs from the egg sacks and rinse off blood, membrane and broken eggs. It is important that the whisking is performed with suitable equipment that does not contaminate or damage the eggs.
After the whisking, the roe is immediately rinsed in cold water of drinking quality.
The base of a vessel is covered with roe before the vessel is filled with water almost to the brim. The water is then emptied out and the vessel refilled. The process continues until the water is clear – usually 3-5 times. The number of rinses depends on the maturity of the roe, among other things.
During the last rinse, the roe is poured through a fine stainless steel mesh. The roe passes through the mesh, but any impurities (scales etc.) are caught by the net. The roe is rinsed one last time in the vessel before being collected in nylon bags that are hung to allow the water to run off, or in frames of stainless steel mesh that are placed in racks to drain. The time from the first rinse to the final straining should be kept as brief as possible (about 10 minutes) to ensure the roe doesn’t lose its colour or swell, causing the eggs to break.
The roe is dried in cooling rooms at 3-6 degrees Celsius for about 48 hours.
The roe is then salted using 4-4,5% iodine free salt. At salting, it is important to use appropriate tools and methods to ensure the eggs won’t crack as that means the roe becomes wetter and doesn’t achieve the same, fine texture.
The salt is mixed in my hand or by using small machines, such as an altered dough mixer. While the salt is added, any remaining impurities are cleaned away from the roe.
Airing and packing
Once the roe has been salted, it will be left to air for a while. This is done both to allow the salt to dissolve and to get rid of gases that can leave the product tasting “stale”. Once aerated, the roe is placed in containers that are adapted to ensure as little air as possible is left inside, before being frozen.
All tools used in the roe production must be easy to clean and disinfect. All equipment that comes into contact with the roe must be cleaned after each batch of roe (normally once a day). All other standard hygiene requirements relating to food production should also be followed.