Caviar Types, History & Buying Guide

Thanks for visiting. This site provides comprehensive information about caviar. The delicacy, which is known to wow guests at any party or get together, has come a long way throughout the years. Caviar history has its share of challenges, changes, and novelties. This website provides information regarding the types of caviar and lets you know everything about how to buy caviar and much more. Find out how to find the best caviar for your purpose and learn a few caviar recipes in the meantime. Also, find out more about farmed caviar and other alternatives that are increasingly hitting the consumer markets and competing with the traditional Black Sea and Caspian caviar.

Caviar is the roe or eggs of sturgeon, a species of fish. Roe from another fish, like salmon or capelin, might loosely be called caviar, but in reality, it is not. It is actually a caviar alternative. The best caviar comes from sturgeons in the Caspian Sea, like Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga. Thus, Russian and Persian caviars are quite reputable. They are also quite pricey. This is not an issue for some people who would pay anything for gourmet caviar.

The flavor of roe caviar is usually an acquired taste. Fishy and briny, the delicacy consists mainly of fish eggs and salt. The Russians use light salting to make caviar. In doing so, they produce the famous malossol caviar. The salt enhances flavor, acts as a preservative and prevents freezing. Depending on the different types of caviar, different amounts of salt are required. The best caviar, however, is one that contains little salt-prepared the Russian malossol way.

Caviar Etemology

When most people think of caviar, their minds immediately jump to Russian caviar. While Russian caviar is world famous and considered by many people to be the best caviar, the word "caviar" has its etymological roots in the Persian word for egg, khyah. It was not until the 16th century that "caviar" first appeared in the English lexicon. Experts believe that it entered the English language through French and Italian, which had borrowed it from the Turkish language through the word havyar.

Due to its rather intense flavor and relatively high price, the delicacy is served in small amounts. It is consumed as an appetizer in or as a garnish on side or main dishes. Available in different shades and colors, caviar makes a striking appearance aesthetically. Red caviar, which comes from the sturgeon alternative, salmon, for instance, looks appealing when served, as does black caviar that comes from Beluga, for instance. This delicacy impresses with its looks and taste. Therefore, if you want to keep your guests happy, do it the traditional Russian way with vodka and caviar.

History of Caviar

Caviar history goes back to the fourth century BC, according to records from the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Accordingly, the roe of sturgeon was present in banquets at the time. Caviar became a major luxury delicacy later because of the Russian tsars. However, the Persians were technically the salted caviar creators. Many people give this honor in caviar history to the Russians who are famous for their malossol caviar, which is lightly salted.

In the twelfth century, caviar was well known in Russia and by the sixteenth century, it penetrated into Europe as a luxury item for royalty. Russian caviar entered the international trade market in the nineteenth century. It was considered a luxury item throughout the world. The Russians were not alone in caviar production, as Iran, located on the southern end of the Caspian Sea, also began producing the delicacy. Persian caviar was also a highly respected quality product.

The next triumph for caviar occurred in 1873 when Henry Schacht established a caviar business in America. He used sturgeon from the Delaware River. The United States became a big caviar producer, only second to Russia. The fish roe was so popular in the US that saloons served it free of charge, as customers would buy more and more drinks to deal with its salty taste. High-end restaurants offered caviar as an appetizer. Europe became a huge buyer of American caviar. However, things eventually changed. By the year 1910, the sturgeon was almost extinct in America because of overfishing. This resulted in the halting of production. Thus, caviar became a very expensive luxury item in the United States.

A somewhat similar fate followed in the Caspian Sea. Caviar history was marred again, as the sea that was the chief caviar creator also suffered from overfishing, pollution, and poaching. Caspian sturgeon populations were down, too. In 1988, the sturgeon gained protection as endangered species and trade was regulated. Regardless of this, black market trade and poaching still occur in the region. The regulations concerning the bans have changed throughout the years, but there is a limit put on sturgeon harvesting and trade. The limited amount of caviar that does come from the region is high priced, because of these regulations. As a result, farmed caviar and other alternatives are increasingly popular today.

Caviar Immitation

The caviar delicacy has been imitated, but connoisseurs and loyal fans believe that nothing comes close to the sturgeon caviar that comes from the Caspian and Black Seas. By law, the word "caviar" can only refer to sturgeon eggs. Therefore, varieties that you see on the market, like lumpfish, salmon, and paddlefish, are actually caviar alternatives. Overfishing of sturgeons in the Caspian Sea is a chief reason why these alternatives are dominating the market today.

Some of the most well known caviar brands are the Petrossian Caviar & Romanoff Caviar. These two companies are considered the providers of the most premium caviar in the World, and their products are highly sought-after and, as you might expect, expensive.