Last updated on January 7th, 2023 at 09:46 am
The three main varieties of sturgeon caviar are – Beluga caviar, Osetra caviar, and Sevruga caviar. Besides these mainstream options, there are a couple of less-known varieties as well.
Among the less-known options, there are the Kaluga caviar and the American caviar. All these options vary in terms of price, availability, taste, color, and quality.
The most expensive caviar
Beluga caviar is the most expensive caviar on the planet. Its price is not only a reflection of its superior buttery-smooth flavor profile but also its rarity and limited availability.
What sturgeon caviar is the best?
Each variety of sturgeon caviar has its unique characteristics in terms of color, taste, texture, aroma, and size. However, some caviar varieties are more special than others.
Apart from taste-related variances, factors like cost and rarity greatly influence the value of caviar. The Beluga Sturgeon – originating from the Caspian Sea is the most coveted and luxurious caviar on the planet.
The average cost of this variety is way above the average cost of others and can easily cost anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 per kilogram. Beluga sturgeons are massive with lengths of up to 24 feet and weighing above 3000 pounds on average.
They have a long lifespan and can even live more than 100 years, producing a huge amount of eggs in every reproduction cycle. Due to their rarity, it is against the law to import Beluga caviar to America.
The large eggs of this species have a pearlescent coating with a grayish color. It has a deep, buttery texture and a vibrant taste that will anyone longing for more.
On average, caviar range in the price points of $113 to $481 for every 50-gram tin. There is a reason this delicacy gets the tag of ‘dish of the rich.”
However, there was a time when caviar was a staple food for the fish farmers of Russia, and they ate it daily. These days, when you purchase caviar from a reputable house – it can easily set you back by $40 per ounce.
There are caviar houses that can charge even $400 per ounce. Prices fluctuate a lot due to differences in various factors like – sturgeon farming process, harvest or production method, intrinsic taste, texture, nutritional profile, and demand (or rarity).
All these points make caviar a super-premium food these days. However, the price of caviar may not always indicate its quality.
What are the three main types of caviar?
There was a time when the main caviar varieties on the market were – Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga. These are the traditional options and primarily originate from Russia and Iran.
Nowadays, there exist new varieties of caviar from many places on earth such as France, California, Uruguay, Bulgaria, etc. Let’s discuss the three main types.
- Beluga – It is the most premium option on the market and sits at the apex of the culinary experience. It is famous for its buttery-smooth texture and rich flavor.
- Osetra – This is the next best thing after Beluga. The top-grade golden Osetra can even challenge the Beluga in some cases with its rich, nutty taste.
- Sevruga – This caviar comes from the Acipenser sturgeon which has the fastest reproduction cycle and is widely available – leading to a lower market price. These black eggs have a distinctive crunchy texture with an intense flavor.
3 Types of caviar
The Beluga caviar, Osetra caviar, and Sevruga caviar are the three main caviar varieties. They have a common point of origin and are the most widely known options.
What are the types of sturgeon fish for caviar?
Currently, there are two sturgeon families in existence – Acipenseridae and Polyodontidae. The two families have a total of 28 different species that are still alive today.
Some of the common sturgeon species from the Acipenseridae family are:
- Siberian sturgeon
- Baikal sturgeon
- Lena sturgeon
- Shortnose Sturgeon
- Yangtze sturgeon
- Giant panda sturgeon
- Russian sturgeon
- Green sturgeon
- Sakhalin sturgeon
- Adriatic sturgeon
- Ship Sturgeon
- Gulf Sturgeon
- Atlantic sturgeon
- Persian sturgeon
- Sterlet sturgeon
- Amur sturgeon
- Chinese sturgeon
- Starry Sturgeon Sevruga
- Baltic Sturgeon
- White Sturgeon
- Kaluga Sturgeon
- European sturgeon
- Pallid Sturgeon
- Shovelnose sturgeon
- Alabama sturgeon
Some common sturgeon species under the Polyodontidae family are:
- Polyodon sturgeon
- Chinese Paddlefish
- Bester sturgeon (crossbreed of Beluga sturgeon and Sterlet sturgeon)
Wild sturgeons typically have a longer lifespan, can reach weights of 2000 pounds, take more time to reach reproductive maturation, and have unique characteristics. The wild varieties are anadromous bottom-feeders and have become critically endangered due to over-fishing and poaching.
On the other hand, sturgeons that come from fish farms have a shorter lifespan, reach the reproduction stage quicker, and typically don’t weigh more than 18 to 22 pounds. They don’t share the same physical characteristics as the prehistoric sturgeons.
Which is better Osetra or Sevruga?
The Osetra caviar has a milder taste than the Sevruga, even though the size of its eggs is bigger than the Sevruga. Sevruga produces the smallest eggs but has the most intense flavor among all caviar varieties.
The Osetra caviar varies greatly in terms of taste, egg size, and color. The flavor of Osetra caviar is heavily reliant on the feeding ecology of the fish.
Typically, Osetra caviar has a creamy walnut-like taste along with a pleasing oceanic aroma. The Sevruga caviar, on the other hand, has a much higher mineral content with a saltier flavor – it lacks the ‘fishy’ flavor, unlike most caviar varieties.
The Osetra caviar is more expensive than the Sevruga on average, and a lot of people consider it to be the next best caviar after Beluga.
What does caviar taste like?
Most caviar varieties have a buttery texture with a mild ‘fishy’ flavor. There will be a slightly salty taste as well resembling the ocean water.
The richness and freshness of the caviar will depend upon the quality. There can be a huge variance in taste in certain caviar varieties as well.
What is the most sought-after caviar?
Beluga caviar is the most sought-after caviar, also known as ‘Almas’ – it is the most expensive caviar on the planet. It comes from the Iranian Beluga Sturgeon and a kilogram of this delicacy can set you back by $35,000.
How to eat caviar?
The best way to enjoy caviar is to put small portions of it inside your mouth and roll it around instead of chewing. This will slowly release the flavors as the eggs melt in your mouth.
Using non-metallic utensils to have it is essential as it can have a metallic taste if used with metal utensils. It is important to serve the caviar on a bed of ice to maintain its quality and firmness.
Some of the best companion foods that can be had with caviar are – dry toasts, unsalted crackers, pancakes, bread, smoked salmon, etc. You can also enjoy it by pairing it with a bottle of good champagne or vodka.
Types of caviar and prices
In the following list, you can learn about the most common caviar varieties and their prices:
- Golden White – Commonly known as – ‘Strottarga Bianco caviar’ – it is the most costly caviar originating from a scarce albino sturgeon between sixty and a hundred years of age. It costs well above $100,000 per tin and comes with a 24-carat gold leaf.
- Almas – Commonly known as Iranian caviar, it originates from the Iranian beluga sturgeon of the Caspian Sea. You can only get it at select caviar houses, and it will cost you beyond $34,000 per tin.
- Russian Volga Osetra Reserve – Known as the Volga Reserve Roe, preparing this specialty has a lot to do with customary Soviet techniques & complex harvesting processes. It can easily cost more than $600 per tin.
- Classic Sevruga Grey – Known as Sevruga, this item comes from the border region of the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. It requires much less time to be able to harvest it than other varieties and will set you back by $150 per tin at least.
- Golden Imperial Osetra – It originates from the scarce Osetra sturgeon and comes from the Caspian Sea. Usually, it costs well above $120 per ounce.
- American Hackleback – Its birthplace is the famous Mississippi River, this caviar comes from the Shovelnose sturgeon. The average cost of this caviar per tin is $100 per tin.
- Hybrid Kaluga – Known as the River Beluga Caviar, it comes from the Amur River at the border of China & Russia. It is certainly one of the less expensive options and costs $30 per half an ounce.
- American Paddlefish – Probably the cheapest caviar variety in the market, it costs roughly $20 per ounce. It is certainly a perfect starting point for culinary enthusiasts looking to venture into the caviar community for the first time.
Black caviar price
Black caviar can easily cost north of $35,000 for every kilogram if bought from a reputable source. This is due to high demand, poor availability, and a time-consuming breeding/harvesting process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the highest quality caviar?
Caviar has two divisions in terms of quality grades. Grade 1 caviar has the highest degree of firmness, richness, above-average sizes, taste, and aroma.
Grade 2 has slightly lower levels of each of these above factors.
What caviar does Gordon Ramsay use?
Gordon Ramsay swears by the Imperial Caviar UK brand which uses both the Beluga & the Osetra caviar varieties.
What is the best-tasting caviar for beginners?
If you’re looking to taste caviar without burning a hole in your pocket – the Siberian sturgeon caviar would be a great starting point.
How can you tell good caviar?
Good caviar should have firm eggs that separate easily when you roll them inside your mouth. The eggs should have a sparkling shine and should not taste mushy or murky.
- Beluga caviar is the most costly caviar in existence.
- The three main varieties of caviar are – Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga.
- There are 28 species of sturgeon alive today.
- The caviar that comes from Siberian sturgeon is a great option for beginners.
- Good quality caviar doesn’t taste mushy and remains firm & shiny before consumption.