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What is Caviar?
While it’s often spoken that caviar is ‘fish eggs,’ this is only partly true. Caviar is a term that refers to the unfertilized eggs of fish that belong to the Acipenseridae family, better known as sturgeon fish. Fish eggs from other varieties of fish are called ‘roe.’ Further, it’s only when sturgeon fish eggs are properly harvested, brined, and packaged that they can truly be called ‘caviar.’
After the sturgeon eggs are harvested, they are cured with salt to enhance their flavor. This process also helps to increase the shelf-life of your product, making it possible to ship the product across the world.
Traditionally, caviar has been harvested from fish raised in the Caspian and Black Seas. Caviar is rare, and for that reason, it has been described as, ‘black gold,’ referring to both its color, and the relatively expensive price tag.
What fish is caviar?
Caviar is a food delicacy that is the mixture of salt and unfertilized eggs that are harvested from the sturgeon family of fish. Sturgeon belong to the Acipenseridae family of fish and include Beluga, Paddlefish, American Osetra, Ossetra, Siberian sturgeon and Sevruga, among others.
The term ‘caviar’ is used inaccurately to describe other types of fish eggs, or even imitation fish eggs. When the eggs are harvested from fish other than sturgeon, the correct term to use is ‘roe.’
How long does caviar last once opened?
Caviar is a delicacy and best enjoyed fresh. Due to the nature of caviar and the delicate balance of roe to salt, caviar can quickly spoil if it is not kept at the right temperature or if it is exposed to air. We highly recommend you enjoy your caviar within 5 days of opening the container. The sooner it is eaten, the fresher and more flavorful it will be.
What is caviar made of?
Caviar is roe (fish eggs) harvested specifically from the Sturgeon species of fish. Sturgeon is found in the wild but can also be sustainably farmed and roe can be harvested responsibly without harm coming to the animal it is harvested from.
When harvested from other fish species such as salmon, the product cannot truly be called ‘caviar’ as it is a term exclusively reserved for the Sturgeon family of fish. Instead, you will see the term ‘roe’ used, which is a word that means ‘fish eggs,’ whether they come from sturgeon, salmon, or any other fish.
When caviar or roe is prepared, it is typically packaged with only malossol. Malossol is a Russian word that translates to ‘little salt.’ So, caviar is made of only roe and salt.
What does caviar taste like?
In the most simple and delicate of terms, caviar could be described as tasting of the salt and ocean water. Caviar is exceptionally natural and while each fish delivers a unique flavor, each caviar will have similar things in common. Most caviar might taste a bit ‘fishy’ but not like fish meat would taste. The ‘fishiness’ of quality caviar is much gentler and pleasant than we are used to.
The best caviar will have distinguishable, yet mild flavors of salt, fish, ocean water, and butter. If any of these flavors overpower the others or are notably out of harmony with the other flavors, your caviar might be lower quality and you may not have the best experience.
What are the health benefits of caviar?
Unlike most of life’s extravagences, caviar is surprisingly beneficial for your health. Caviar is surely a treat you can feel good about eating as often as you’d like.
Caviar is a true superfood. A typical 1-ounce serving of caviar is a highly beneficial source of important fats and nutrients, and provides a good amount of healthy fat. Caviar is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can boost your skin’s health. It’s clear that eating omega-3s can help your skin stay radiant and glowing, and can even ward off wrinkles and skin sagging.
There are even studies that show that eating just small amounts of caviar can improve your brain health and even help with male fertility.
Is caviar Kosher?
To know if your caviar is Kosher, you have to understand whether or not the fish it comes from is Kosher. For fish to be considered Kosher, they must have both fins and scales. True caviar (not simply roe) can only come from fish in the Sturgeon family. Because sturgeon have ganoid scales and not true scales, many people do not consider caviar harvested from Sturgeon to be Kosher.
Red roe harvested from salmon, however, is considered to be Kosher when it is manufactured in a dedicated Kosher facility or on Kosher-dedicated equipment, and when it contains only salt.
Can pregnant women consume caviar?
Yes, pregnant women can consume caviar. In recent years, caviar has been associated with listeria poisoning, so women who are pregnant have been advised to avoid it. However, it’s shown that if caviar is pasteurized and kept refrigerated, it’s completely safe for pregnant women to eat.
How much is caviar?
Caviar is typically sold by the ounce. One ounce of caviar will usually yield 2-3 spoonfuls each for two people. A single ounce of caviar typically costs as little as $25 to as much as $100. There are generally five things that affect the price of caviar:
The fish species the caviar is derived from.
The age of the fish (the maturity of the caviar).
The quality of the manufacturing process.
The quality of the beads (their clarity, color, size, shape, firmness, etc).
The supply and demand of the market.
The cost of caviar can get extremely high. For example, Almas caviar is extremely rare and is the most expensive caviar on earth. It is harvested only from a female albino sturgeon between the age of 60 and 100 years old, that comes from the Caspian Sea. Almas caviar can cost up to $3,500 per pound.
When looking at the market as a whole, you will surely see cheaper products than those mentioned here, but these products are likely ‘roe.’ Roe is a term used to describe caviar as well as unfertilized eggs harvested from other fish and mammal species, including salmon, shrimp, scallops, lobsters and others. Roe refers to unfertilized eggs collected from marine life.
When roe is harvested from more common fish sources, the price will drop. In fact, in some cases, the cost of roe could be as little as $1 an ounce.
Why is caviar so expensive?
Caviar is expensive primarily due to the process by which it is harvested. It takes at least 10-15 years before a female sturgeon has reached the time of maturity that will allow it to produce eggs. Modern, ethical harvesting requires that fish are kept in holding zones that allow them to be healthy and free from potential diseases. This requires significant investment in their care and maintenance.
Unlike outdated methods of harvesting, fish eggs are removed ethically, preserving the life of the fish. This process requires additional care, supplies, employees, and facilities. Further, the processing and manufacturing procedures are more advanced, taking great care to ensure caviar is free of bacteria and other contaminants.
Caviar is produced in small batches to ensure the integrity of the product is meticulously maintained. It is not processed in large machines. In many cases, the product is hand-scooped into tins and packaged individually. This requires highly trained professionals that are involved in each step of the process.
How do I eat caviar?
Caviar can be eaten on its own, by the spoonful. However, many people prefer to serve their caviar alongside other foods. You’ll also want to make sure to always serve your caviar cold. We recommend you store your caviar in the coldest part of your fridge, where it will stay very cold without freezing. Even if your product is pasteurized and sealed, storing it at room temperature will cause the caviar beads to break down in texture and flavor. When eating your caviar, keep the tin on a bed of ice to help keep the temperature low. This will preserve the flavor of your caviar even when it can’t be in the refrigerator.
It’s traditional to serve caviar with a mother-of-pearl spoon. Silver and metallic spoons both give off-flavor and absorb flavor, which, with a food as delicate and expensive as caviar, would be detrimental to the experience of eating it. But mother-of-pearl spoons do neither, thus preserving the full flavor of your caviar.
If you choose to serve caviar straight from the tin, you’ll want to eat only small portions at a time. Take small spoonfuls (no more than a tablespoon’s worth). In fact, it may even be considered rude to take larger servings. Caviar is meant to be savored and enjoyed slowly and deliberately.
Hosts may choose to serve caviar on top of pre-prepared appetizers. Alternatively, it may be served with accompaniments. Commonly, caviar is spooned onto lightly buttered toast or crackers. It may also be served alongside traditional Russian blinis, or small pancakes. Traditional garnishes include sour cream, creme fraiche, herbs, hard boiled egg, and green onion. You may appreciate the flavor of caviar more as it blends with these garnishes.
You can pre-make appetizers garnished with a dollop of fresh, cold caviar, or you can serve your caviar as the centerpiece of a smorgasbord of complimentary garnishes and foods. Because caviar is so special, your guests will appreciate it all the more if it’s presented in a way that showcases the exclusivity of the meal. Present your caviar beautifully to truly make it the star of the show!
What fish does caviar come from?
Caviar comes from fish that belong to the Acipenseridae family, better known as sturgeon fish. There are approximately 27 species of sturgeon.
27 SPECIES OF STURGEON (ACIPENSERIDAE)
GENUS - Acipenser
Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi
Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus
European sea sturgeon
GENUS - Huso
GENUS - Scaphirhynchus
GENUS - Pseudoscaphirhynchus
Syr Darya sturgeon
Amu Darya sturgeon
While there are 27 distinct species of sturgeon, they aren’t all known for producing the best caviar. Caspian sea sturgeon are considered to be the very best and include beluga, osetra, and sevruga. Other common caviars include beads harvested from European and American osetra, Siberian sturgeon, and hackleback.
What is cowboy caviar?
Cowboy caviar is not really caviar at all! Cowboy caviar is a side dish or appetizer that’s similar in texture to a dry salsa. Traditionally, this dish is made with tomatoes, onions, corn, chopped bell peppers, black beans, and jalapenos.
It may also have a dressing or vinaigrette to give it flavor. It is usually served with crackers or tortilla chips for dipping. It may not pair well with authentic caviar, but if you would like to try this at your next party, here’s a recipe!
What color is caviar?
When most people imagine what caviar looks like, we assume caviar is either black or red. This is the common representation of caviar in photos. However, there is actually a large range of colors of caviar, and some colors are more rare and expensive than others.
As a general rule, red caviar is usually ‘roe;’ not caviar from the sturgeon family of fish, but unfertilized eggs harvested from other fish types, such as salmon. But both caviar and roe can be found in many colors, including:
“Black caviar” is a term given to roe from sturgeon fish - true caviar. This term may actually refer to caviar of a number of colors, such as black, grey, brown, or gold. “Black caviar” usually means sturgeon caviar, and excludes roe from other fish types.
If you want truly black-colored caviar, American hackleback produces consistently small, jet black pearls that tend to be shiny and consistent in color and size. Don’t be fooled by color, however. Other varieties of fish may produce dark or black roe.
Red roe often comes from salmon; these are usually bright reddish orange and are stunning to see on a table or plate. While not technically considered caviar, salmon roe tends to be more expensive than other varieties of roe. Salmon eggs may be vibrant red, orange, or yellow