Caviar 101: What to Know about Types of Caviar

A Quick Overview of the Different Types of Caviar

Since the Ancient Greek times of Aristotle, caviar has graced the tables of the royalty and nobility of society. Various lands have historically enjoyed dishes similar to the delicacy under different names and with different preparation techniques, but the “black gold” was made popular globally by Russia. Caviar is derived from the Persian word chav-jar, which means “cake of strength” and traditionally was only sourced from The Caspian and Black Seas much like genuine Champagne is only produced in Champagne, France, however many vineyards across the globe produce their own versions.

Types of Caviar

There are four main sturgeon varieties which produce different types of caviar with varying levels of quality and expense. The most expensive caviar, Beluga, comes from beluga sturgeon from the Caspian Sea and comes in large pea-sized pearls. The next variety is Sterlet which is smaller in size and has a golden color. The third variety is Ossetra which boasts a rich flavor and the last main variety is Sevruga.

Other countries also produce caviar. In the United States, roe is harvested and prepared as caviar from the Mississippi River. This fresh caviar is called Wild American caviar. Besides the four main varieties of fish which are harvested for caviar, salmon, trout, whitefish, and other species of sturgeon are used. These varieties are lower in price and popularity, but still delicacies nonetheless.

Caviar Preparation

The process for caviar preparation has changed very minimally in the last 100 years. Sturgeon are farm raised or captured from the wild. The fish are then examined to determine if their ovaries are full of eggs. The ovaries are removed from mature sturgeon and eggs by the tens of thousands are gently separated from the membrane wall. The process is deliberate and gentle as the eggs are fragile. The roe is then rinsed and drained several times to ensure purity. The pearls are then placed in water for one last purification process. Bits of debris – membrane and segments of eggs – are removed manually with tweezers. The roe becomes caviar when salt is added to season the delicacy as well and assist in the preservation of it. The caviar is cooled to maximize the absorption of salt and then drained several times before being packed into a lacquer lined tin and prepared for shipping.

Serving Caviar

Caviar must always be refrigerated and served chilled and kept on a chilled dish to maintain a low temperature. When it comes to eating the caviar, purists prefer their caviar alone. Others will serve is as a spread on toasted bread or crackers, but either way, it is always the star of the plate. The flavor of both domestic and imported caviar shine in dishes with distinct salty bursts of flavor. The pearls must be served by ceramic or glass utensils to prevent interference with the pure taste. Serving size of caviar should not exceed one table spoon so a to optimize the culinary experience. Each container of caviar should be consumed in one sitting. Containers are conveniently small in size for this purpose in part. The pearls may last for a few days after the container is opened, but the quality and taste will deteriorate until it spoils.