Site is under construction but very shortly our purpose will be to provide a reliable and extensive source of information on the world of Caviar.
Beluga Caviar is considered by many the king of Caviar. Beluga Caviar roes are the largest on the market and come quite logically from the largest of all sturgeons (up to 6 meters/20 feet in length), the Beluga (aka Huso Huso) which is a critically endangered species. As a result the Unites Sates Fish and Wildelife Services have banned its importation in 2005. For more information about legal rules and regulations relating to importing Beluga caviar you can visit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
The Beluga sturgeon is found primarily in the Caspian and Black Seas and sometimes in the Adriatic Sea. The Beluga name comes from the fish colour, it is the Russian word for white.
In the wild a female Beluga will not mature until 15 to 25 years of age and may not spawn every year. In captivity however, with the right temperatures and a rich protein diet this can happen in as little as six years. 25% of its body weight might be roes only and that percentage has been known to be higher in the past (record up to 50%).
Beluga Caviar grains are large with a fine skin. Beluga caviar has a strong consistency and iodine flavour and for many an unrivalled development on the palate. Taste is subtle, creamy or buttery, long lasting with a fresh oceanic touch that experts may call a faint flavour of the sea. Roes color can vary from very pale to very dark. Lightest coloured Caviar is often highly searched for and appreciated even though the taste should not be a matter of colour.
The combination of above factors make Beluga Caviar the priciest and rarest Caviar with market prices ranging from $7,000 to $10,000 per 1 kg (2.2 lb) or $200–$300 per ounce. It is generally sold in Blue tins and often very hard to find. If at the beginning of the 20th century it represented around 40% of sturgeons catches that percentage is down to less than 1% today.
One of the most famous Beluga Caviar ambassador is the most famous secret agent, mister James Bond who is known for his expensive taste.
Bond is tempted by Beluga Caviar in several movies, including Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, A View to A Kill, The World is Not Enough and Casino Royale.
One of James Bond movie character, Valentin Zukovsky, is actaully producing Caviar.
Scientific Latin Name
|BELUGA||Huso huso||Giant sturgeon (Beluga, Great Sturgeon)||http://www.caviarastrakhan.com/|
|OSETRA||Acipenser gueldenstaedtii||Russian Sturgeon, Danube Sturgeon||http://www.caviarastrakhan.com/|
|OSETRA, KARABURUN||Acipenser persicus||Persian Sturgeon||http://www.caviarexpress.com/|
|OSETRA||Acipenser nudiventris||Shipp Sturgeon|
|SEVRUGA||Acipenser stellatus||Stellate Sturgeon, Sevruga, Star Sturgeon||http://www.caviarastrakhan.com/|
|BAERII||Acipenser baerii baerii||Siberian Sturgeon||www.caviarhouse-prunier.com|
|BAERII||Acipenser baerii baicalensis||Baikal Sturgeon|
|American||Acipenser transmontanus||White Sturgeon||http://www.sterlingcaviar.com/|
|Hackleback||Scaphirhynchus platorynchus||Shovelnose Sturgeon||http://www.caviarcaviar.com/|
|Acipenser naccarii||Adriatic Sturgeon, Italian Sturgeon||https://www.caviarderiofrio.com|
|Acipenser schrencki||Amur Sturgeon, Japanese Sturgeon||https://www.petrossian.com/|
|Kaluga||Huso dauricus||Kaluga Sturgeon||http://www.caviarrusse.com/|
|Breviro||Acipenser brevirostrum||Shortnose Sturgeon||http://www.breviro.com/|
Scientific Latin Name
Place of Origin
|1||Beluga||Huso huso||Giant sturgeon (Beluga, Great Sturgeon)||Caspian, Azov and Black seas||Bulgaria, Iran, USA, South Korea|
|2||Osetra||Acipenser gueldenstaedtii||Russian Sturgeon, Danube Sturgeon||Caspian, Azov and Black seas||Bulgaria, China, Israel, Germany, France, Italy, Viernam, USA, UAE, Uruguay, South Korea|
|3||Osetra, KARABURUN||Acipenser persicus||Persian Sturgeon||Caspian and Black seas||Iran, Italy, Bulgaria|
|4||OSETRA||Acipenser nudiventris||Shipp Sturgeon||Caspian and Aral seas|
|5||Sevruga||Acipenser stellatus||Stellate Sturgeon, Sevruga, Star Sturgeon||Caspian, Azov and Black seas||Bulgaria, USA, Italy, South Korea|
|6||STERLET||Acipenser ruthenus||Sterlet||European and West Siberian rivers||Russia|
|7||BAERII||Acipenser baerii baerii||Siberian Sturgeon||Siberian lakes and rivers||France, Italy, China, Bulgaria, USA, UAE, Vietnam, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Switzerland, Estonia, Finland, Belgium, Uruguay|
|8||BAERII||Acipenser baerii baicalensis||Baikal Sturgeon||Siberian lakes and rivers|
|9||American||Acipenser transmontanus||White Sturgeon||North America Pacific Coast||USA, Canada|
|10||Hackleback||Scaphirhynchus platorynchus||Shovelnose Sturgeon||Mississipi and river system|
|11||Acipenser naccarii||Adriatic Sturgeon, Italian Sturgeon||Adriatic sea and rivers||Spain|
|12||Acipenser schrencki||Amur Sturgeon, Japanese Sturgeon||China|
|13||Kaluga||Huso dauricus||Kaluga Sturgeon||Amur Delta|
|16||Breviro||Acipenser brevirostrum||Shortnose Sturgeon||North America Atlantic Coast, Canada Saint John River system||Canada|
|14||Acipenser sinensis||Chinese Sturgeon||Yangtze River system|
|15||Acipenser sturio||Common Sturgeon, Baltic Sturgeon, European Sea Sturgeon||Europe, Atlantic Coast, west Asia|
|17||Acipenser dabryanus||Yangtze Sturgeon||Yangtze River system|
|18||Acipenser fulvescens||Lake Sturgeon||Great Lakes|
|19||Acipenser mikadoi||Sakhalin Sturgeon|
|20||Acipenser oxyrhynchus oxyrhynchus||Atlantic Sturgeon||North America Atlantic Coast|
|21||Acipenser oxyrhynchus desotoi||Gulf Sturgeon|
|22||Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi||Syr-Dar Shovelnose|
|23||Pseudoscaphirhynchus hermanni||Small Amu-Dar Shovelnose|
|24||Pseudoscaphirhynchus kaufmanni||Large Amu-Dar Shovelnos|
|25||Scaphirhynchus albus||Pallid Sturgeon (White Hackleback,White Shovelnose)||Mississipi and river system|
|26||Scaphirhynchus suttkusi||Alabama Sturgeon|
|27||Acipenser medirostris||Green Sturgeon||Pacific Coast of Asia|
Snail Caviar – Caviar d’escargot
Red Caviar (Salmon Caviar)
Shellfish roe from crab, lobster and sea urchins
Sevruga Caviar completes our trio of main Caviar types together with Beluga and Osetra. If it is slightly less expensive than the other 2, its intense taste is well appreciated by connoiseurs.
Sevruga Caviar eggs are smaller in size than those of other sturgeons. However, what it lacks in size, the Sevruga more than makes up with it’s intense flavor. It is saltier and richer in taste. Chefs and hosts throughout the world appreciate to serve it to guests due to his fine flavour. It is typically the fittest for canapes and blinis. Sevruga Caviar is generally sold in red tins.
Sevruga Caviar comes from Acipenser stellatus also known as Sevruga Caviar. This sturgeon is native to the Caspian, Black, Azov and Aegean seas.
Sevruga is also the smallest of the caviar-producing sturgeons. It can reach up to 7 feet in length and wiegh around 150 lbs. If Sevruga is the most abundant of the 3 main Caviars sturgeon types it still hits the list of critically endangered species. The female Sevruga reaches maturity between 7 to 10 years, earlier than other sturgeons.
Sevruga is probably the sturgeon we are most used to see. Its elegant lines makes it the most common choice for logo in the caviar industry.
300 BC – Aristotle comments on quality of sturgeons eggs
1240 – Batu Kahn eats Caviar in Orthodox Christian monastery
1280 – Orthodox Christian church approves Caviar for fasting
Late 1400’s – heavily salted Caviar shipped to Italy, Italian proverb “whoever eateth cavialies, eateth salt, dung, and flies”
1500’s – King Edward II of England proclaims all sturgeon caught were to be turned over to him
1675 – Tsar Alexei Michailovich Romanov decree, Caviar becomes a monopoly of the stateunder exclusive authority of the Tsar.
1682 – Peter the Great encouraged exports – however spoilage
Early 1700’s – Caviar same price as butter in St. Petersburg
1760’s – Catherine the Great controlled export closely, Caviar firmly associated with Russian aristocrats
1780’s – Ioannis Varvarkis revolutionized Caviar trade with linden tree barrels, employed 3000 in Astrakhan
Early 1800’s – Industrial Revolution creates new wealth in Europe and a taste for exotic treats such as Caviar
Mid 1800’s – Europeans frustrated with Russian control of supply, Europeans begin to look elsewhere for Caviar
1879 – Russia Lianozovs manage to lease bulk fishing rights in the Iranian waters, they bring Russian Caviar “savoir faire” to Iran
1917 – Bolshevik Revolution, communists take control of Caviar industry
1921 – Iran cancels Russians lease and starts running fisheries on its own
Late 1960′s – Caviar now promoted as an Iranian icon ignoring fatwas who declared it unclean for muslims (fish without scale)
1983 – Sturgeons considered Halal after scientists discover scales, Caviar booms in Iran
Late 1990′s – Crisis in the Caspian, sturgeons are stuggling due to overfishing, poaching and a jellyfish invasion
1998 – international trade in all species of sturgeons is regulated under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) owing to concerns over the impact of unsustainable harvesting and illegal trade in sturgeon populations in the wild
2005 – US bans importation of beluga Caviar from Caspian Sea and Black Sea basins
2006 – Cites bans export of Wild Caviar
Osetra Caviar (aka Ossetra) is the second golden child of the Caviar family and is still causing quite some confusion in the Caviar industry and for Caviar amateurs.
The reason for that is the meaning of Osetra in Russian “осётр” (“осeтр”): sturgeon of any species. Strictly speaking however Osetra Caviar comes from Acipenser gueldenstaedtii (Russian sturgeon) or Acipenser persicus (Persian Sturgeon). We will call them Osetra sturgeons.
Russian sturgeon can grow up to about 235 cm (93 inches) and weigh around 115 kg (254 lb). They cannot mature and reproduce quickly, making them highly vulnerable to fishing.
Following the situation in Caspian and Black Seas, six sturgeon species besides Huso Huso and Osetra sturgeons, along with some hybrids, are farmed for caviar. With sometimes indeed a subtle difference between species (even at genetic level) some Caviar protagonists seem to be taking advantage of the confusion by labeling those farmed Caviars as Osetra. Example include selling under Osetra Caviar made from Siberian sturgeon or from white sturgeon.
Genuine Osetra Caviar is however farmed in Germany, Israel, China, Bulgaria and Italy.
Osetra Caviar is among the most expensive foods in the world and is generally priced between Beluga and Sevruga Caviar. The worlds finest Osetra caviar is found in the Caspian or Black Seas. It enjoys a wider variety of flavor, size and colours than other Caviar types. Experts explain this high variability by the fact Osetra sturgeons are bottom feeders and roes flavor are a consequence of whatever they eats.
Caspian Osetra Sturgeons are critically endangered species.
Osetra Caviar traditionally comes in yellow tins.
Osetra Caviar is characteristized by a nutty flavor and firm, juicy grains with colours ranging from a light to a rich brown that can have golden highlights.
Even though definition can vary according to source, Golden Caviar, White Caviar, Royal Caviar or Imperial Caviar are all synonyms of extremely rare Caviar coming either from an albino sturgeon (Beluga or Osetra) or from one over 60 years old.
The flavor of albino eggs is described as being incredibly light, delicate, soft and creamy.
This delicacy used to be set aside for the reigning elite such as emperors, popes, tsars and shahs. In Iran, until not so long ago, impudents who dared eating Golden Caviar used to have their right hand cut off.
It is the rarest and most expensive Caviar type on the market. The most expensive of them all (confirmed by Guinness World Records) being the Caviar House & Prunier ‘Almas’ (алмаз Russian for diamond) from an old wild Iranian Beluga (aged between 60 and 100 years old) that swims in the less polluted southern Caspian Sea waters. It comes in a 24-karat gold tin with a golden spoon, a kilo of this caviar is sold for £18,500 / $27,000. If you are intererested to buy some you will be waitlisted.
There are at least 2 Caviar farms that propose Golden Caviar.
The first one is Mottra’s Fram in Latvia who even developped a unique method of harvesting eggs without killing the female sturgeon by massaging or stripping roes from the fish.
The second one is former economist Han Sang Hun’s farm in South Korea which he started in 1997 after having brought back 200 sturgeons from Russia. Mr Han’s team has also developed “sustainable” egg-harvesting skills involving making a very small incision to collect the roes.
Pressed Caviar (“Ikra payousnaya”)
Popular in Eastern Europe, Pressed Caviar is made from Caviar that has been damaged during processing or from eggs remaining from different batches. It is a densed dark roe blend mass that can be spread or sliced. It is very concentrated as 1 kg of pressed Caviar contains anything from 4 to 6 kg of Caviar roes. It is very salty with a fishy taste. The strong, sharp taste is favored by connoiseurs. Pressed Caviar is often present in early accounts before more modern preservation methods arose (refrigeration and pasteurization).
Pasteurization is a preparation method that increases shelf life but can make the eggs firmer. If the Caviar comes in a glass jar it is most probably pasteurized. In order to pasteurize Caviar cans or jars are immerged in a hot-water bath at 60-63 degrees celsius. Length of time depends on the container size. After this treatment Caviar can be kept for a year without refrigeration.
Malossol is not a separate variety of Caviar. Malossol is a Russian word literally translating to “little salt”. It is used to describe a way of salting Caviar as in “Malossol Caviar”. It is always sold in tins.
The term Malossol was originally used to distinguish high grade Caviar from ordinary Caviar indicating that it had not been oversalted (between 3-5%) and was of the highest quality and taste.
Nowadays Malossol Caviar for European and Russian markets contains anything between 2.5 and 4% salt with 0.5% borax. Borax being banned in the US, its Malossol is saltier (3 to 8%).
Caviar with higher salt content, 6 to 15%.
Even though Caviar preparation is a fairly simple process that has only marginally evolved over the last hundred years, it requires expertise that takes years to be built. Preparing Caviar is even considered a hand-made art form.
Whether we are dealing with sturgeons from aqualculture or living in their natural habitat, steps to obtain the precious golden eggs follow a logical sequence.
One of the first step of Caviar preparation is understanding whether or not the female sturgeons roes are mature enough to be harvested and processed.
This means a trip to an ultrasound station. The roes must reach optimum maturity, just before natural spawning takes place. That is between 5 to 8 years for most of aqualculture sturgeons and roes reach a diameter between 2 to 4 mm. If the screen reveals part of the sturgeon precious content, a biopsy would be necessary to confirm the roes readiness for processing.
When roes are confirmed to be ready for harvesting, female sturgeons are taken to the processing site where the fish and its roes will be handled under strict hygienic conditions.
The ovaries are removed from the sedated sturgeon by splitting its underside with a sharp knife. Ovaries are the organ who produces the eggs and are comparable to grapes on a vine. they are almost as long as the fish itself and contains ten of thousands of eggs. A female sturgeon can contain anywhere between 10 to 20% of its body weight in its 2 ovaries.
They need to be quickly removed because an enzyme who could alter their taste is realeased from the dead fish.
Envelop and roes are weighted, measured and an identification number is given for traceability.
Following that, some producers proceed with assembly where they will sort the ovaries according to roes colour, texture and the type of Caviar they wish to obtain. It is striking to observe the variation between roes of sturgeons belonging to teh same species and generation. Roes colour can vary from cream to dark black.
Ovaries are then worked through a sieve with the palm of the hand for optimum control in order to remove the membrane and reveal the precious eggs.
Roes are then rinsed several time to wash away impurities that went down during sieving generally using filtered water. Final touch may require a tweezer. Once ready future Caviar is dried and weighted.
Roes are now carefully salted to maximise their future flavour and for conservation purposes becoming our precious Caviar in the process.
Each Caviar producer will have its own salting process secret and will chose the salt type (pharmaceutical grade, precise region or mine) and exact amount based on roes origin, total weight, maturity, texture and what he wants to achieve.
Traditional Caviar has also some Borax added to it which further sweetens the product and increases its shelf life.
Borax is one of the reason never to taste Caviar using metal as a chemical reaction will alter the Caviar taste.
It is now time to taste the result of our effort and verify that there is no issue with the freshly made Caviar. If there isn’t, Caviar is graded according to each producers scale.
Caviar quality controllers are looking for a good pop in mouth that is prefered comparing to a too soft Caviar.
Universal Caviar grading:
Grade 1 Caviar is Caviar that ideally combines all properties; it must be firm, large grained, delicate, intact, of fine color and flavor.
Grade 2 Caviar is Caviar with normal grain size, very good color and fine flavor.
Caviar is finally packed into a lacquer lined tin and pressed down to eleminate any air pocket . Those tins have been used for more than hundred years as no better conservation means have been found.
They are then sealed with a wide rubber band and can be kept refrigerated for approximately a year.
Once packed Caviar life is actually just starting. It will absorb salt, swell up, and its characteritcis and flavour will change while quality will rise.