Among the different varieties of caviar available to consumers, sturgeon caviar stands as a popular choice. This caviar is first made by harvesting sturgeon roe, the eggs of the sturgeon fish. The eggs are then washed and salted or treated depending on the kind of caviar made. This results in the delicious and prestigious sturgeon caviar that’s used in fine dining restaurants worldwide.
Sturgeon caviar is different from other fish egg-based cuisine such as salmon roe. While roe can contain the skein alongside the eggs, caviar is typically separated from the skein during processing. Sturgeon has been the original source of “caviar” and despite caviar now being made from other species of fish such as salmon, sturgeon remains the preferred choice for many. In addition, there are multiple species of sturgeon that the caviar can be made from.
The Sevruga sturgeon is one of the smallest Caspian Sea species of sturgeon, and the caviar that’s made from their roe is named after it. Known for its generally grey appearance and small size, this kind of sturgeon caviar is also one of the most expensive, with only the Ossetra and Beluga variants being more expensive. Due to how easy it is to harvest and cultivate the Sevruga sturgeon, its roe is the most common of the three main caviar types. It is also consequently the cheapest kind.
Ossetra is the middle-sized variant of the main three Caspian Sea caviar types. It comes from the Ossetra sturgeon, a species of fish that can live for up to 50 years. It also goes by the names of Osetra, Oscietra, and Asestra and Russian Sturgeon. The Ossetra variant of sturgeon caviar is usually brown in color, ranging from golden to dark brown. The most popular kinds of Ossetra caviar are the lighter ones, especially those that are golden in color.
Being the most expensive of the three main Caspian Sea caviar types, Beluga caviar is also the most sought after. It is harvested from the rare and endangered Beluga sturgeon, which is also the largest species of sturgeon in the world. It’s been known to grow to a length of up to 7.2 meters, and weight at around 1,571 kilograms. Beluga caviar is illegal to import into the United States as of 2005 due to the fish’s endangered status. Beluga caviar is easy to distinguish. It’s one of the largest roes and is known for its light-to-dark grey color. As such, it is also called black sturgeon caviar. The sturgeon roe price of the Beluga is extremely high, with a kilogram costing up to $10,000.
The Sterlet sturgeon is a type of sturgeon native to Eurasia and is naturally found in the habitats of the Caspian, Azov, and Black Seas, though they are now often farm-raised instead for efficient harvesting. The small sized roe is dark grey or black in color. Although this caviar comes from a uniquely different sturgeon species, the caviar has a similar appearance and taste to that of the Sevruga. The two caviar are often confused, and in some cases even intentionally labeled incorrectly.
While the Beluga is hailed as the largest sturgeon among its species, the Kaluga comes at a very close second. It is found primarily in the Amur River system, with the fish living some of its life in the ocean. Kaluga caviar is characterized by its smooth texture and similar features to that of Beluga caviar. It’s often sold as a hybrid or fusion, crossbred with another sturgeon and sold as “Kaluga Huso” or “Kaluga Amur Hybrid.”
The American Hackleback sturgeon, or Shovelnose sturgeon, is a variant of the fish that is found in both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in the United States. It is the most common and abundant sturgeon and is the only sturgeon that the US government allows to be fished commercially. Hackleback sturgeon caviar is small, firm and black in color.
Caviar is an expensive, yet popular food that’s become increasingly sustainable over the years, and with new variants coming out, making it increasingly affordable. However, sturgeon caviar, the original caviar, remains the leading variety worldwide.