Pure. Natural. Sustainable.
Oona caviar is the first and only Swiss caviar taken from sturgeon that are bred in Swiss mountain water. Fully in accordance with the philosophy of the Tropenhaus Frutigen, the first Swiss caviar makes its appearance in the market in a natural and sustainable manner, produced with the finest craftsmanship.
Tropenhaus Frutigen has continued to play a leading role in sustainable fish farming since the first sturgeon were bred at the facility in 2005. Together with the Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health at the University of Berne, it has optimised the fish husbandry conditions and has developed new, animal-friendly methods, such as determining the point in time when the caviar has reached optimal maturity. Today around 80,000 sturgeon swim around in the breeding tanks, alongside the perch (picture), zander and graylings.
Besides the warm water from the inside of the Lötschberg mountain, the recirculation system at Tropenhaus Frutigen is also a secret to success: The water tanks used for breeding fish are arranged in such a way that the same treated water always circulates within them. Pumps move the water from the central water treatment plant upwards into the tanks; it then flows downwards and back into the plant to be cleaned. Thanks to efficient filtration systems, the water quality in the basins is above-average, which is thereby beneficial for the health of the fish and the quality of the products. Antibiotics and other medication are deliberately not used. Sustainability and artgerechte Tierhaltung enjoy the highest priority for fish farming at Tropenhaus Frutigen.
Fish is a healthy and popular choice of food. The huge increase in fish consumption around the world over the last few decades is testament to this. Consequently, the number of fish in the waters, including the number of sturgeon, has declined dramatically: overfishing is the sad diagnosis around the world. As a result of the hunger for fish, in particular the much sought-after expensive caviar, most of the 26 types of sturgeon are in danger of extinction. Wild sturgeon fishing is prohibited virtually worldwide. The sensible and sustainable alternative to wild fishing is therefore fish farming. The fish grow in pools or tanks and are fed food without the addition of medication or hormones.
At the foot of the Bernese High Alps lies a paradise waiting to be discovered: Tropenhaus Frutigen, the production site of Oona, the pure Swiss Alpine caviar. The mountain water, the fish farming and the tropical garden – a harmonious trio under one roof with three times the appeal, along with an innovative energy concept.
The tropical atmosphere, fish farming and alpine setting form a unique combination worldwide. For example, it relies upon closed, resource-efficient material cycles and renewable energies. It reminds us that where it stands today once stood a tropical climate: 250 to 300 million years ago dinosaurs also lived here among the fish: the sturgeons that are bred in Tropenhaus Frutigen.
Unique energy concept
Where did the idea come from to breed sturgeon and produce caviar in Frutigen?
When the NEAT base tunnel was constructed, the question arose of what was to be done with the 70 litres of crystal clear water that flow unrestrictedly out of the northern side of the tunnel in Frutigen every second. Diverting the 18-degree water directly into the waters would have caused a threat to the fish living there, in particular the lake trout.
Instead of cooling the tunnel water down, which would be costly and use resources unnecessarily, the heat in Tropenhaus Frutigen can be used in a meaningful and sustainable manner: Tropenhaus breeds fish and cultivates plants that grow and flourish thanks to the necessary heat.
“How the fish came to the mountain”: the new permanent exhibition
The new permanent exhibition at Tropenhaus Frutigen takes young and old visitors on a surprising journey of discovery. In five distinct areas, they delve into the themes of water, sturgeon, caviar, pleasure and energy, closely aligned with the activities and the philosophy of Tropenhaus Frutigen: an overall interactive experience full of sensory and virtual fun elements.
The tropical garden: heavenly sweet fruits, devilishly pungent spices
Tropenhaus Frutigen harvests two tonnes of exotic fruit, plants and spices every year from its greenhouses: from pineapples to dwarf bananas, they are only picked once they have fully ripened.
Audio guide and themed trails, tours and workshops – for curious and insatiable visitors
Tropenhaus Frutigen places particular importance on sharing knowledge and experiences. Those who wish can be guided through the exhibition using an audio guide or can learn more about coffee, bananas and orchids along the themed trails in the garden. Four one-hour tours – “Tropical Garden”, “Sturgeon & Caviar”, “Aquaculture” and “Energy, Technology & the Cycle” – and a range of interactive workshops complete the programme.
Sturgeon and caviar: the stars in the restaurant
Tropenhaus gastronomy is inspired on a daily basis by the high-quality products from fish and caviar farming and the abundance of fruits and spices from the tropical garden. They are the stars that the kitchen chefs passionately combine with seasonal – usually regional – products. The special atmosphere in the restaurant amidst the tropical plants is captivating, as is the cuisine – mouth-watering delicacies that make visitors feel as though they are actually in the tropics.
Tropenhaus Frutigen and the agency ARD Design Switzerland were awarded with the “red dot award: communication design 2012” in the packaging category. The award was presented on October 24th, 2012, at the concert hall in Berlin.
Ice Cube – ice, mountain, water. The exquisite mountain water caviar is enclosed by the Ice Cube. Quality, pleasure and purity are guaranteed by this unique, precious caviar case. The glass and the shape of the glass cube, which is manufactured in Switzerland by Glasi Hergiswil, symbolises ice, the origin of water. The caviar is embedded in the centre of the cube in the shape of a sphere, just like a perfect caviar pearl. Each “Ice Cube” is unique, being created by hand, and the shape and aesthetic lines make it tempting to use the Ice Cube as a stylish and individual decoration after you have enjoyed the caviar.
Fresh caviar can be kept for up to 3 months in its original sealed container refrigerated between -2°C and +2°C (please note the information provided by the individual producer and/or supplier). Under no circumstances should the temperature fall below -4°C, as the taste and consistency of the grains could otherwise be changed. Please enjoy immediately after opening.
In order to serve this delicacy in a fitting manner, spoons made from horn or mother-of-pearl are recommended. Gold spoons are also very suitable: these materials do not distort the unique taste of the caviar. Under no circumstances should silver or metallic spoons be used, as these will destroy the taste of the caviar. You will find various horn or mother-of-pearl spoons in our Shop.
The pearls are served cool, on an ice base, for example, so that the subtleties of the taste can fully unfold themselves. The side dishes for caviar are also delicate: it can be served with blinis, small, buckwheat pancakes, and sour cream. Buttered toast, baked potatoes or small potato fritters with sour cream are also exquisite. In general, the accompanying dishes should not have a strong taste of their own, because they should leave space for the unique taste of the caviar. However, caviar is also ideally suitable as a subtle component in dishes, for example to complement a steak tartare or for warm appetizers.
Caviar is accompanied by noble beverages: carefully selected champagne, Krimskoye (sparkling wine), dry white wine or vodka underline its flavour and highlight its fine qualities.
Caviar – the secret energizer: caviar is a healthy delicacy that contains vitamins D, E, B12 and niacin, and minerals such as iodine and sodium. Due to its lecithin content, calming properties have even been attributed to caviar. The fine pearls have a fat content of about 15 to 16 percent, and are very rich in protein (up to 35 percent).