You might be familiar with traditional black caviar from sturgeon, or even red roe from salmon and trout. However, we're here to discuss a more eccentric caviar variety — white caviar.
While it's not technically considered real caviar since it doesn't come from a sturgeon — unless you're referring to albino caviar, which we'll also discuss — its appearance, texture and flavor make it a delicacy enjoyed around the world. Read on to explore the unique characteristics of white caviar.
When hearing the phrase “white caviar,” you might think of a white or albino sturgeon based on the traditional definition of caviar. While this is true in some cases, white caviar doesn't always come from a fish. It's also collected from the fresh or processed eggs of escargot — land snails!
In France, white caviar is known as caviar d’escargot. While this delicacy is most commonly produced in France and Poland, you can also order snail caviar from restaurants in London, Japan, Moscow, the Emirates and the United States. White escargot caviar generally comes from the European garden snail Helix aspersa maxima, one of the most common and best-known species in the world.
How exactly do they harvest eggs from these land-dwelling mollusks? Heliciculture, or snail farming, is the practice of raising land snails for consumption, either for escargot or caviar. Producing sustainable amounts of escargot pearls requires highly controlled conditions like climate, lighting and temperature.
Snail caviar can also be difficult to obtain, as snails typically lay eggs once a month but produce few quality eggs at a time. Additionally, snails bury these eggs 2-4 inches beneath mud or dirt. In many cases, rain will wash away the eggs, or predators devour them in the ground. This complex harvesting process is just one of the many qualities that make escargot caviar a rare delicacy.
White Albino Sturgeon Caviar
Now, let's talk about another type of white caviar — albino sturgeon caviar. Unlike snail caviar, this white caviar comes from the roe of albino sturgeon. It can come from a few types of sturgeon, but the most precious is Iranian albino Beluga sturgeon — or Almas caviar — which is only found in the pristine waters of the Black and Caspian seas.
These sturgeons are typically between 60 and 100 years old, but the older fish tend to have softer and more aromatic roe. A highly rare and sought-after variety, white Almas caviar can cost over $35,000 per kilogram.
Characteristics of White Caviar
White caviar's exclusivity, whether from fish or snail, isn't the only factor that makes it so desirable. It also has exquisite characteristics that are pleasing to both the eye and palate.
If you're familiar with traditional sturgeon caviar, you likely know it can be black, gray or even gold in color. Trout and salmon roe usually have a vibrant orange, red or yellowish hue.
White caviar from escargot and sturgeon, on the other hand, has a creamy milky-white and opaque color — hence the name “white caviar.” The eggs' size, color and appearance resemble those of pearls. These delicate spheres aren't made synthetically or dyed — their pearl-like appearance is completely natural. Depending on the egg quality and lighting, either variety can also take on a slight pink or rosy hue.
White escargot caviar is known for its resilient exterior that creates an exquisite “pop” sensation when you bite into it. The eggs have a high fat content that produces a lovely palate-coating effect following this initial burst. Due to these unique properties, the texture of white caviar is often compared to those of Beluga and Osetra sturgeon caviar.
Sturgeon white caviar pearls are large and have a delicate, almost silky texture. The older the sturgeon, the softer the roe, creating an almost spongy texture from fish that are over 100 years old.
While the appearance and texture of white caviar alone are intriguing, its one-of-a-kind flavor is probably unlike any other food you've tasted. Snail caviar doesn't have the traditional fishiness or oceanic brine found in other types of caviar, as it comes from a land animal rather than a sea creature.
Following the firm pop, unexpected earthy, woody hints of moss and herbs greet the palate. You may also detect notes that resemble mushrooms, carrots, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Just like the flavor of escargot, snail caviar is a rather acquired taste, so it may take multiple tries to fully appreciate its unique flavor.
Meanwhile, white caviar from albino sturgeon tends to have an intensely creamy, buttery and nutty flavor profile, followed by a long finish. Like escargot pearls, this type of white caviar lacks the “fishy flavor” found in other caviar varieties.
How to Store and Serve White Caviar
Typically, white snail caviar can maintain freshness and quality at a slightly higher temperature than traditional sturgeon caviar. However, escargot pearls should still be stored chilled — ideally at a temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Like other types of caviar, it should also be given some time to warm up to room temperature before serving and eating, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Serving white caviar offers an array of possibilities. Besides eating it straight from the tin, you can experiment with white caviar to create dishes that are both delicious and visually pleasing. Similar to other caviar varieties, white caviar is commonly served in the following ways:
- Served with Russian pancakes, or blini
- Spread over dry or lightly buttered toast
- Used as a dip for unsalted crackers or potato chips
- Served with garnishes like lemon wedges, red onion, chives and creme fraiche
- Served alongside chocolate and desserts or with a glass of vodka or champagne
Additionally, we recommend using a mother of pearl spoon or one made of wood, glass or plastic. The oxidation from metal spoons is known to compromise the flavor and texture of caviar, disrupting the entire tasting experience.
This oxidation may also cause unsightly splotches, streaks and stains on your metal silverware. Be sure to pair your white caviar with the right serving utensil so you can fully enjoy this unusual yet delicious culinary experience.
Try Premium Pearls From Imperia Caviar
We hope you've enjoyed learning about where white caviar comes from, its unique characteristics and storage and serving tips. If you're looking to try traditional sturgeon caviar varieties, Imperia Caviar has the selection for you.
At Imperia Caviar, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the rich flavor, texture and quality of caviar. That's why we specialize in premium yet affordable caviar products to delight the palate and satisfy your craving for a luxury gourmet treat.
When you shop online at Imperia Caviar, you can choose from fresh varieties such as rich, buttery Kaluga Hybrid Reserve or a nutty and firm Royal Osetra. The pleasing “pop” sensation paired with bold and outstanding flavor will surely leave you reaching for the tin time and again.
Explore our high-quality caviar available for online purchase and order yours today!