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Cheap vs. Expensive Caviar: How To Tell The Difference

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With so many caviar varieties available, how do you know which caviar is worth your money? If you're new to caviar, it can be hard to distinguish low-end caviar from high-quality caviar. Even worse, some companies deceive customers by marketing their fake caviar products as authentic. 

It can be difficult to tell the difference between expensive and affordable caviar, but it is important to do your research before making a purchase. Use our guide to learn how to identify real vs. fake caviar. Plus, learn some of the key factors that differentiate high-quality and low-quality caviar. 

Real vs. Fake Caviar

Did you know that some items marketed as caviar actually contain zero caviar at all? Unfortunately, if you're not careful, you may end up with fake caviar with a disappointing taste and texture. Real, authentic caviar is roe from a variety of fish in the sturgeon family. If your caviar does not come from sturgeon — it's not real. 

Even if you're new to caviar, you can learn to recognize the difference between real, authentic caviar and fake caviar. In fact, it's possible to identify fake caviar before you even take a bite.

When buying caviar, look out for the following:

  • Smell: An overly pronounced fishy smell can be a sign of counterfeit caviar. Genuine, high-quality caviar will have a fresh, ocean-water fragrance as opposed to a strong fishy scent. 
  • Texture: Caviar covered in plaque is another indicator that the caviar is not authentic. Additionally, excess liquid, especially when it is a different color from the eggs, signals unauthentic caviar. 
  • Source: Real caviar needs to come from sturgeon. Luckily, genuine caviar will always provide information on where the caviar was sourced. This allows you to confirm the caviar comes from a reputable farm or supplier. If caviar does not list where it was sourced, there's a good chance the product is not genuine. 

Does Fake Caviar Taste the Same?

Fake caviar does not taste the same as real, high-quality caviar. Imitation caviar is often very bland, with one-dimensional flavor profiles. Fake caviar will taste slightly sweet or salty, and that's about it. Meanwhile, genuine caviar has unique and deep flavors ranging from buttery, rich and nutty to earthy and herbal. With genuine caviar, these complex flavors will stay on the palate for longer, giving you a lasting, satisfying experience. 

You can also recognize fake caviar from its lackluster texture. While fake caviar tries to imitate the texture of genuine caviar, the basic texture does not live up to the unique and enjoyable texture of the real deal. The texture of caviar can vary based on the sturgeon species, region, season and more, however, authentic caviar will have a creamy and buttery feel. Trust us, fake caviar's imitation does not compete with true caviar. 

Cheap vs. Expensive Caviar

Expensive caviar consists of older and often larger eggs. Meanwhile, affordable caviar options are younger with a more mild flavor

While it is possible to tell the difference between fake caviar vs. real caviar, the same can not be said for distinguishing cheap caviar from expensive caviar.

The price of caviar does not always guarantee a better flavor profile. Affordable and expensive caviar are made differently and have varying flavor profiles and textures. This means, depending on your unique palate, what you consider to be the best-tasting caviar may differ from others' opinions. 

Expensive caviar consists of older and often larger eggs. Meanwhile, affordable caviar options are younger eggs with a more mild flavor. Different types of caviar will vary in their texture, with some having a unique bursting effect while others melt together, creating a unique, creamy texture.

More expensive caviar, such as Ossetra and Almas, tends to be more popular and preferred, especially by caviar connoisseurs. However, some people prefer more affordable caviar based on their flavor and texture preferences. Therefore, it is not always possible to distinguish between cheap caviar vs. expensive caviar.

How to Tell if Caviar Is Good Quality

Personal preferences aside, there are ways to grade or rank the quality of caviar. The highest level of caviar is known as grade 1. Grade 1 caviar has the firmest, largest and most delicate eggs. This type of caviar also has distinguishable flavors and colors. 

The most critical aspects in caviar grading include color, size, fragrance, hardness, maturity, egg grain separation, uniformity and lucidity. So, when shopping for high-quality caviar, which caviar types should you look for?

Great high-quality caviar options include:

  • Ossetra: With a pleasing pop and bold, savory flavors, it's clear why these large pearls are popular among caviar lovers. Ossetra caviar has a briny flavor with potential additional notes of earthy, fruity or nutty flavors.
  • Kaluga: Kaluga is a rare type of caviar with a delicious mild and buttery flavor. Instead of a pop, Kaluga caviar has a smooth, velvety finish.
  • Sevruga: Known for its clean finish and creamy texture, Sevruga caviar pairs perfectly with a variety of dishes. Sevruga caviar is lightly salted, creating a balanced flavor profile and texture.
  • Beluga: Due to overfishing, Beluga caviar is now illegal in the United States. These eggs may be available overseas for a hefty price if you're looking for caviar on vacation.
  • Almas: Almas caviar comes from an Iranian Beluga sturgeon. However, this sturgeon must also be between 60 and 100 years old, as well as albino. Due to the scarcity of this caviar, it is extremely expensive.

The Freshness Factor in Caviar 

High-quality caviar should always taste fresh. To provide the freshest, best-tasting caviar, many caviar suppliers avoid using preservatives. Added preservatives allow caviar to last longer but can also impact the taste. Since Imperia Caviar does not use unsafe or unpleasant preservatives, you can always enjoy the freshest-tasting caviar!

Instead, it is better to cure caviar to extend its shelf life without compromising flavor. After the eggs are separated from the membrane and any impurities are removed, they are washed and submerged in a saline solution. Salt is crucial in the curing process as it helps maintain the caviar's freshness. Different levels of curing are available, from heavy curing, which has a high salt concentration, to light curing, which has low salt content. Typically, the quality of the eggs will determine which level of curing is necessary. 

Explore Imperia Caviar's Affordable and High-Quality Caviar

Delicious, high-quality caviar no longer needs to be out of reach. At Imperia Caviar, we love sharing the luxurious and decadent taste of caviar. That's why we use fair pricing to keep caviar accessible. When you order from us, you get fresh, sustainably farmed caviar shipped right to your door. 

We pack our caviar specifically for each order and offer quick shipping to ensure maximum freshness. With premium caviar options, including Ossetra and Kaluga caviar, you can enjoy some of the finest caviar available. Shop our delicious and affordable caviar today to experience culinary luxury.

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