Caviar is roe or eggs from the sturgeon family of fish. It’s considered a delicacy, often eaten raw as an appetizer, with some caviar fetching a high price. Historically, the most prized types of caviar came from the Caspian and Black Seas, but due to overfishing, caviar is now produced around the world.
Place of origin: Caspian and Black Seas
Common varieties: beluga, osetra, sevruga, Kaluga, sterlet
Preparation: served chilled or on ice with blinis or toast points
Shelf life: two weeks in the fridge (unpasteurized)
Caviar vs. Fish Roe
All-female fish lay eggs to reproduce; therefore they all have roe. Not all fish roe is suitable for human consumption, however, and only sturgeon roe is considered caviar price
Sturgeon are saltwater anadromous fish (meaning they move from salt to freshwater to spawn). They are native to the Black and Caspian Seas between Europe and Asia as well as the Pacific Northwest and southern Atlantic coasts of the United States. Sturgeon can grow to more than 3,000 pounds but typically average about 60 pounds.
Other popular types of fish roe like salmon, trout, and flying fish are well-loved and popular for topping sushi rolls, toast, and more. However, they are not considered caviar. Some types of fish roe have a similar flavor and textural characteristics to caviar and can be used as a substitute.
The most-prized caviar comes from the beluga and osetra varieties of sturgeon. Beluga caviar is among the largest, rarest, and most expensive of all caviar. It typically can’t be found in the U.S. due to overfishing and government regulations, but Kaluga is a variety that’s available stateside with a similar delicate buttery flavor and texture.
While caviar needs no further preparation, it’s delicious served with classic accompaniments like blini and toast points.
Classic Toast Points
Where to Buy Caviar
Caviar can be bought in tightly sealed metal tins at gourmet markets or online vendors. It’s typically priced per tin, and the price can vary depending on the type and origin of the caviar. Since unpasteurized caviar must remain refrigerated, ensure that any online orders will arrive quickly packed with ice packs.
What type of caviar you select will depend on your preferences, plans, and budget. Don’t be afraid to ask a store associate for advice when selecting high-priced items like caviar.
Store unpasteurized caviar in the coldest part of the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it. Unopened, a tin can stay in the refrigerator for about two weeks. An opened jar or tin should be stored, tightly covered, in the fridge for two to three days. Pasteurized caviar can sit on the shelf for several months before use, with any leftovers stored in the fridge for two to three days.
Nutrition and Benefits
Caviar provides 74.8 calories per 1-ounce serving and is very high in cholesterol.1 However, it is also high in iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Individuals on a low-salt diet should consume caviar in moderation.