Caviar has long been a delicacy reserved for the upper echelons of society, but in the 21st century, things have changed.
Sustainable aquaculture practices have become mainstream in recent years, and the global production of caviar has gone into overdrive to meet big demands.
With small producers mastering new techniques all over the world, caviar is more accessible to the masses than ever before.
While you can still pay hundreds of dollars for an ounce of the finest caviar, there are plenty of affordable types of caviar available that still pack a ton of exciting flavors and textures.
Let’s talk about the best caviar varieties, from most costliest to most affordable.
THE COSTLIEST CAVIAR
Trying to find the world’s most expensive, high-quality caviar is like looking for the priciest sports car or private jet on the planet. There will always be something more prestigious, more desirable, and with a bigger price tag. At a certain point, it’s not about quality— it’s about exclusivity.
With that said, here are some prices you can expect to pay for the world’s best:
Mainly sourced from the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, this sturgeon yields the most sought-after caviar on the planet and is currently an endangered species.
Prepare to pay top dollar for beluga caviar, well over $200 an ounce, and sometimes more.
Slightly smaller than the beluga but more abundant, ossetra is arguably the world’s most popular caviar. Ossetra (also spelled osetra caviar) has long been prized in Iran and Russia.
It can be found for around $90 an ounce, with prices ranging much higher for reserves.
One of the biggest beasts in the sturgeon family, the Kaluga makes its home in the Amur River and yields some very impressive pearls.
Since Kaluga is critically endangered, its caviar will cost you between $60 and $80 an ounce.
At about $45 an ounce, sevruga caviar still isn’t cheap, but it’s still a fine delicacy from a smaller wild sturgeon species. This is a great way to try out top-tier caviar without going overboard on cost.
If you can splurge on any of these caviars, don’t hesitate to try them out!
AMERICAN CAVIAR OPTIONS
If just reading those prices has left you a bit shaken up, we don’t blame you. There’s a reason why caviar still has a reputation as a crazy-expensive item.
Those hefty price tags are only for the top-shelf caviar options, so you can get a similar experience if you’re truly strapped for cash at the moment, although nothing will ever compare to the real, quality taste of caviar. Paddlefish caviar, for example, is cheaper than its osetra alternative, but that does not mean it's inexpensive.
There are American versions of caviar, and there are other domestic fish roe like tobiko, salmon roe, and trout roe that are not technically considered caviar but still deliver a wonderful dining experience. Remember, only sturgeon roe is technically considered caviar.
With that said, some American caviars can still demand some steep prices, especially the White Sturgeon caviar varieties farmed in California. Be aware of what you’re buying, and make sure to conduct thorough research before making the purchase.
Choosing caviar that isn’t imported may seem like it’s a good way to save money, but if you’re looking for quality, you can’t go wrong with our Imperia Caviar. We’re based in the United States, so you know that we’re giving you not only the best possible deal but the best possible caviar that we can.
Caviar lovers certainly get some enjoyment from the fact that they are indulging in a prestigious dining experience, but you don’t need to buy certified caviar to enjoy something similar. Here’s the thing, though— those prices are high for a reason, and no alternative is going to satisfy you like real deal caviar will.
Salmon and trout roes are flavorful and highly nutritious, even if they may not come with the prestige of caviar.
It’s very easy to find these products across the country, and you can walk away with several ounces for less than $50 in many cases. But again, for real quality, you want true caviar, and there are definitely people who can tell the difference.
Of course, there are always ways to spend more on top-shelf salmon and trout roe (Alaskan and Japanese, for example), but if you’re planning on doing that, why not just splurge on real caviar?
Other species like whitefish, capelin, and lumpfish also yield tasty roe varieties that can be bought for around $5 an ounce as an entry-level option. Just be aware that these products are not the best representations of caviar at large.
If you just want to experience the bursting sensation of tiny pearls but don’t need that fishy flavor, there are also many faux-caviar options on the market that fit the bill.
Finger limes are a great example of a naturally occurring fruit that bears luxurious little “eggs” packed with a big citrus taste. Try out seaweed caviar to maintain that salty flavor.
You can also fool around with molecular gastronomy methods that yield imitation caviar pearls from watermelons, cantaloupes, and veggies.
GARNISHES AND STORAGE
There’s no doubt that the world’s best caviars are best enjoyed with minimal accouterments.
But if you want to get more mileage out of your caviar, no matter the price, you’ll want to load up on garnishes and recipes that make it worth your while.
Blini, triangular toast, puff pastry, creme fraiche, and potato are some classic caviar accompaniments that bulk up each bite and help make your supply of pricey pearls last longer.
Many famous chefs are also known for ladling a scoop of caviar on top of a light, creamy angel hair pasta to spread that flavor throughout the main course.
Delicate, cold vegetable soups are another great canvas for caviar, and the structure allows you to enjoy a few pearls in each spoonful rather than consuming it in heaps.
Get inventive with your caviar’s supporting cast in the kitchen, and you can enjoy the ingredient over a few days instead of going through the whole jar in one sitting.
Pop a bottle of Champagne along with your tin of caviar to really feel like you're in the best restaurants in New York City or Paris. Vodka also pairs well with premium caviar, especially if you buy caviar that's popular in Eastern Europe.
At the end of the day, whether you're eating caviar from Siberian sturgeons (acipenser baerii), Malossol caviar, or trying salmon roe, the best dining experience will come down to personal preferences. Find a caviar treat that makes your taste buds sing.
Finally, make sure to properly care for your caviar so that none goes to waste. Store it in the cold part of the fridge before opening, and make sure to enjoy it all in under three days.
The Best Affordable Caviar
Good caviar is by no means a bargain, but you can get some of the best stuff on earth for a much better price than you may think.
Today’s sustainable farming practices and aquaculture methods make great caviar more affordable to the masses, and fast delivery gets it right to your door in pristine condition.
With so many stellar options available, you can experience affordable caviar more often and experiment with various garnishes and recipes you find from cookbooks or online.
It’s the best time in history to be a caviar fan, and anyone can get in on the action!
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Last Updated 7/29/22