Caviar has been appreciated since ancient times. In the Roman Empire, a small amount of black caviar was worth as much as 100 sheep. Also, in Russia, Tsar Nicholas II allowed fishermen to pay their taxes in caviar.
Caviar is also called the black gold of international gastronomy. The largest caviar producers in the world are Russia and Iran.
Caviar is black roe from sturgeon. By salting, the black roe becomes caviar. The rarer the sturgeon species from which the roe come, the more expensive the caviar. In fact, rarity is the most important factor in the price of caviar. The more difficult the product is to obtain, the more it is consumed by millionaires. For example, trout is a fish that makes roe every seven years. The best trout caviar is harvested between 8 and 22 years old.
How much does caviar cost?
The cost of caviar is influenced by many factors, including the geographical area, species, time of the year, rarity, and quality. The average cost of an ounce of caviar is anywhere between $55 and $3,100. As we already mentioned, the real caviar is harvested from sturgeons and we can choose from 26 species. Though, the most common are Sterlet, Beluga, Sevruga and Osetra.
In the table below you will find the price estimates for the most popular species of caviar.
|Species||Cost Per Ounce|
|Pacific Steelhead Roe||$85|
|Pacific Salmon Roe||$100|
|Caspian Sea Beluga||$375|
A substitute for real caviar is the Sturgeon roe. It is commonly found at local restaurants and is listed as beluga caviar. Its price is anywhere between $220 and $320 per ounce. The Paddlefish is a non-sturgeon and is also an alternative to real caviar. Its price is anywhere between $30 and $55 per ounce.
According to Serious Eats, you should budget around $55 to $80 for one ounce (30 grams), but the prices can be extremely high.
For example, a Food Republic article noted that one of the most expensive caviar is harvested from a 60 to 100 years old Iranian beluga sturgeon and one ounce of it can be bought for almost $1,100.
A tablespoon of this delicacy can even reach $40,000. This very expensive caviar is called Strottarga Bianco and is made from White Sturgeon roe.
Types of caviar
Divided into four categories depending on the origin, the caviar has an imperceptible smell, and the roes have equal dimensions, shines, and do not stick together.
The golden caviar, also called royal, is the most appreciated and the most expensive category of black caviar, and, contrary to the name, it has the color of amber. Rare and difficult to obtain, this type of caviar comes from the sturgeon called cega.
The second category, sturgeon caviar, is the most diverse, as it has a wide range of colors, sizes, and flavors. Sturgeons begin to produce caviar around the age of 12 when the eggs are very black with golden hues. With age, the eggs of this type of sturgeon lighten in color, and the taste becomes more delicate.
The cod is the largest sturgeon and the only carnivore, but it is a very rare fish as well – every year about 100 cod are caught in the Caspian Sea. Cod caviar is appreciated for its large and perfectly separated caviar, with a color that varies from shades of gray to black. The most valuable are the light gray ones.
The most common category of black caviar is trout caviar, due to the fact that this fish is more common and makes caviar since the age of 7 years. The best trout caviar is harvested between 8 and 22 years old, is dark gray or black, and has a special taste, slightly saltier than other types of caviar.
Currently, international trade of wild caviar from the Danube and the Black Sea is not allowed. Sturgeon fishing is also strictly prohibited in most countries.
However, it is found that illegal fishing and trade in sturgeon products continues. Control authorities have the power to remove illegal products from the market. Responsible and knowledgeable traders and consumers can also be careful not to buy caviar from sturgeon obtained by poaching.
“Sturgeon populations have declined sharply in recent decades: poaching and the illegal wild caviar trade are the main threat to sturgeons,” says Jutta Jahrl, an expert on the caviar trade at WWF.
What are the extra costs?
The experts recommend that you use a bone or pearl spoon to preserve the flavors of your caviar instead of metal.
Important things to consider
Caviar is an important source of vitamins and minerals, but also omega 3, which helps keep the nervous, circulatory, and immune systems healthy. Caviar also contains other nutrients such as vitamins A, E, B6, iron, magnesium, and selenium.
Caviar can be purchased from different places. You can find it in hypermarkets, online, or in specialty stores. It should be noted that in hypermarkets, caviar is difficult to find given that it is quite expensive and not everyone can afford to buy it. So as not to waste time, you can search online or in specialty stores. This way, you can make sure that you do not waste time, you can choose the best quality, and in most cases, online stores deliver at home.
Preserved caviar can be stored outside the refrigerator until it expires. Once the can is opened, the caviar should be stored in the refrigerator.
If the caviar is not preserved, it can be stored in two different ways. If frozen, it can be stored in a freezer for three months. Once the caviar is thawed, it must be stored in a refrigerator in an airtight container.
Caviar should be stored at a refrigeration temperature of -35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh caviar can be stored in the refrigerator for 15-20 days (unopened). It is recommended to consume caviar a maximum of 2-3 days after it has been opened.
It was found that depending on the time you eat it and what you ate before, the same caviar has different tastes. And the best time to eat it is at 11 in the morning, after having a light breakfast a little earlier.
When you buy a box of caviar, there are some codes on its label that help you know more about its origin, regardless of the brand it bears. The group of three letters at the beginning indicates the sturgeon species such as BAE (from baeri), HUS (for beluga), and so on. This is followed by a C, which indicates that the fish was caught in captivity. There can also be a W on the label, which indicates it comes from the wild fish.
How to serve caviar
Caviar is eaten cold, never at room temperature.
It is never served on metal plates or with metal cutlery, as they are said to change its taste, making it bitter.
It would be ideal to serve it on a very cold crystal plate, with ceramic or glass utensils (crystal), to keep its taste. (in the United Arab Emirates it is served with 24 K gold teaspoons)
The traditional label says that it is served in small portions, approximately the amount that fits in a teaspoon in a single sip.
Caviar is served as an appetizer, plain or on unsalted biscuits (greased with butter), on lightly toasted bread, or on a kind of Russian pancake called blini.
To add flavor, it can be garnished with fresh herbs (parsley or dill) and juice or thin slices of lemon.