Few foods can compete with caviar in terms of pure prestige. Simply saying the name aloud feels like you're in the presence of royalty. Its unique flavor and texture are unlike any other.
While many are familiar with the concept of caviar, few know what caviar truly is. Here is your foundational guide to caviar, including some answers to key questions you may have.
Caviar is the salted, non-fertilized eggs of sturgeon. While caviar falls into the broader category of fish roe, not all fish roe is considered caviar. Like wine, cheese, olive oil and other exquisite food products of Europe, nations take caviar classification very seriously. Sturgeon only!
The first known record of caviar goes all the way back to the 4th century B.C., when the Greek scholar Aristotle praised sturgeon eggs as a delicacy. However, the Russian Tsars truly delivered caviar into the world of luxury.
Caviar grew popular in Russia during the 12th century, when fishermen of the Volga River recognized the value of the rare golden roe from Sterlet sturgeon. In the 16th century, it was delivered to the European royal court and Russian imperial table.
From there, it would spread to all countries across Europe. By the 19th century, Russian caviar became a luxury product throughout the international market. Iran started its own caviar industry as well, producing this delicacy at the highest standard.
Meanwhile, America's caviar industry took off in 1873. German immigrant Henry Schacht opened a sturgeon fishing business on the Delaware River. The west coast followed suit and started harvesting sturgeon roe from the Columbia River. American waters were abundant with sturgeon during this time, making the U.S. the top caviar producer in the world.
By the 1900s, sturgeon were so overfished that they nearly became extinct. This caused the price of caviar to skyrocket. Prices were so high by the 1960s that people began to seek new sources of domestic caviar.
Today, 18 of 27 sturgeon species are endangered due to overfishing. That's why producers have turned to more sustainable aquaculture practices to make caviar more economically feasible and environmentally friendly.
Famous Caviar Varieties
There are five main types of caviar that represent the bulk of the high-end market. The "big five" are coveted for their extraordinary flavors and textures. These include Beluga, Ossetra, Kaluga, Sevruga and American. They fetch the highest cost per ounce, delivering the most delicate textures and nuanced flavors of all caviar.
Next, let's explore some answers to FAQs about caviar.
What Does Caviar Taste Like?
Many describe caviar as tasting like the sea. It has a slight oceanic brine like fresh fish, yet it also contains an unexpected buttery richness.
Why Does Caviar Come in Different Colors?
Color varies by the type of roe. Traditional sturgeon caviar has a black, gray or gold color. Meanwhile, caviar substitutes take on other hues. For instance, salmon produce red, yellow and orange roe, which classify as red caviar. There's also white caviar, which comes from land snail eggs.
How Does the Taste of Substitute Caviar Differ From True Caviar?
Compared to sturgeon caviar, red caviar has a fishier and saltier flavor. White caviar is known for its earthy and herbaceous notes, almost resembling moss and mushrooms. Non-sturgeon black caviar is generally cheaper and tends to have a saltier flavor than true caviar. It sometimes contains black dyes as well.
What Is the Texture Like?
Caviar generally starts with a delicate yet firm texture. It then transforms into a smooth, creamy and buttery consistency that melts in your mouth. Older sturgeon produce larger eggs that often create a "popping" sensation when you bite into them.
Try Premium Caviar Today
After exploring basic caviar information and history, we encourage you to try this delicacy for yourself. At Imperia Caviar, we deliver top-quality sturgeon eggs sourced from eco-friendly farms right to your doorstep — all at a fraction of the cost. Browse our premium caviar selection and order yours today!