Caviar is typically a serious subject, with a reputation for prestige and prices that would make anyone do a double-take. But there is a lighthearted side to caviar as well, and plenty of fun facts to learn along the way.
Maybe you’re just finding out about caviar for the first time, or you’re a long-time caviar fan who wants to know more.
There is always something new to discover about caviar, and even the top producers and connoisseurs are still learning more each day.
We’ve put together a list of interesting, unusual caviar facts that you can bring up at your next caviar tasting party or enjoy for your own amusement.
1. Strict Definition
Follow along closely: all caviar is fish roe, but not all fish roe is caviar. Got it?
It’s pretty simple, really, but many people still get fooled each day! Caviar must come from one of the 27 species of sturgeon on the planet – no other type of fish roe counts as caviar.
Yes, it’s confusing with all the products out there claiming to be real caviar, but now you know the truth. If it doesn’t come from sturgeon, it’s not real caviar.
2. The Big Five
Speaking of sturgeon, there are five types of caviar that you definitely need to know about, and hopefully try for yourself at some point soon.
Each caviar brings something unique to the table in terms of size, shape, color, texture, and flavor. Some are more affordable and accessible than others, so don’t miss an opportunity to try a rare, caviar-like Beluga if you get the chance.
3. Major Endangerment
Caviar is pricey for many reasons, including the long and laborious process required to extract and process eggs from sturgeon. However, the endangerment of these fish is a core reason why prices have been elevated in the past few decades.
Some species, such as Beluga, have been overfished to the point that strict regulations have been enacted by local governments, making it illegal to ship the caviar abroad.
While these policies have helped some populations hold strong, endangerment and overfishing are still major issues.
4. Aquaculture Inventions
There is a silver lining to the global sturgeon crisis, and that is the innovations in aquaculture and farm fishing techniques that allow caviar to be produced more sustainably.
Not only are the conditions of these farms beneficial for sturgeon populations worldwide, but they also ensure superior conditions for strong and healthy sturgeons to yield great caviar.
Learn more about sustainable caviar farming and see why these advancements are so important to the caviar industry and ecosystems around the world.
5. Just a Little Salt
The finest caviar should not be overwhelmingly salty, and other flavors should shine through for a more complex experience on the palate. In fact, the top producers only use a maximum of 3% salt solution, also known as malossol caviar.
Watch out for caviar that is overly salty or seems processed in other ways, such as pasteurization. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting bad caviar – it’s just not the best.
6. Grades 1 and 2
It’s often hard to determine a universal system of caviar quality, but a simple grading system is used by most producers to sort two tiers of caviar in the early stages.
Grade 1 caviar tends to be perfectly uniform throughout, with spherical pearls, consistent color, and definitely no scraps or broken pieces in the tin. Grade 2 is less strict, and you may find some impurities in the final product. Nevertheless, the caviar should be delicious and safe to eat.
Caviar that doesn’t make the grade is either scrapped or turned into pressed caviar products used for adding depth of flavor to dishes, similar to truffle.
7. Too Many Terms
When browsing caviar online, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer variety of terms and categories used to describe different caviar products.
You’ll see words like “Select,” “Classic,” “Premium,” “Royal,” “Reserve,” and more.
The truth is that every caviar producer has their own internal system of ranking caviar products based on the type of sturgeon and other variables like the place of origin or environmental conditions.
The best way to navigate these terms is to learn the systems based on the producer, and ultimately, pick caviars based on your own preferences.
8. Black Gold
It’s not hard to spend a good chunk of your paycheck on caviar, but nothing quite compares to the cost and exclusivity of Almas caviar – the most expensive on the planet, also known as Black Gold.
This caviar must come from a rare female albino Beluga sturgeon in the southern Caspian Sea, and the pearls are a gleaming, golden color like no other roe on the planet. A pound of Almas will cost you nearly $20,000, so start saving now.
9. National Caviar Day
In case you needed another excuse to stock up on delicious caviar, you’ve got a national holiday to celebrate on July 18th of every year.
This is great timing for a day dedicated to caviar. The middle of the summer, and still plenty of warm days left to enjoy before fall.
We can’t explain exactly why National Caviar Day exists, but we shouldn’t need to convince you to celebrate this day with friends, family, and plenty of caviar to go around.
10. Special Utensils
Standard silverware and caviar just don’t mix. The compounds in sterling silver or stainless steel will ruin the flavors of the caviar and potentially damage the implements as well.
You don’t want your caviar to taste metallic or oxidized, so the proper tools are needed.
That’s why you’ll always see top-notch caviar served with a mother-of-pearl spoon, which is made from the composite material found in the inner shell of some mollusks.
11. Surprisingly Healthy
High in protein and healthy fats, low in carbs, and free of sugar – that sounds like a pretty healthy snack! Caviar has an impressive nutritional panel and is considered a legitimate health food by anyone practicing low-carb living.
You can enjoy a few scoops of caviar each day, but don’t go overboard. Sodium and cholesterol are still somewhat high in this food.
12. Best Beverage Pairings
Not sure what to drink with your next caviar snack? You’ve got options, but purists will recommend dry white wine or champagne served chilled in a flute glass.
Others will suggest you sip ice-cold vodka in between bites of caviar to cleanse the palate and get that ultimate royal Tsar experience.
You can also enjoy a nice, pale lager to complement the salty caviar. Nothing wrong with that.
13. Countless Colors
The color of caviar is almost as intriguing as its taste and texture. You’ll find pitch-black and steel-grey beads, as well as every shade of bronze and gold imaginable.
Many caviar types are also light forest green or jade, with interesting flecks of color throughout. Every batch is somewhat different based on the sturgeon’s diet, age, and environment.
14. Fresh Is Best
When you have caviar shipped to your door, don’t delay! Caviar is best enjoyed as soon as possible, so store it properly and crack that tin within a couple of weeks.
When the tin has been opened, make sure it’s all gone within less than 48 hours.
It’s Time To Try Premium Caviar
There is a lot to be excited about when first learning about caviar. Keep these facts in mind as you shop around and share caviar with friends and family!
Make sure you buy from trusted vendors, online or in-person, and make the most of your next caviar tasting party.