The name Caviar is reserved specifically for the eggs (roe) of a sturgeon. There are 27 species of sturgeon in the world, many are endangered or critically endangered due to habitat fragmentation, over-harvesting, and pollution. Four species are thought to be extinct. There are many misconceptions surrounding caviar and it is important to support farms who are mindful to sustaining populations of wild sturgeon while farming health stocks for caviar. Farmed sturgeon caviar is the ONLY caviar available in the USA and should be promoted as such.
Sturgeon are native to specific areas of the world, but are not necessarily farmed in that area. “Russian Caviar” called Osetra, is being farmed in other countries than Russia. For example, Browns Trading Offers Russian Osetra Caviar from Belgium, Israel, and Italy. The sturgeon species is the same but the waters they are farmed within, the grade of roe, as well as the brining technique gives each location a specific flavor.
Here are the most common species of Caviar:
- Osetra – Russian Sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii)
- Siberian – Siberia Russia (Acipenser baeri)
- White Sturgeon – USA often called White Caviar (Acipenser transmontanus)
- Shovelnose Sturgeon – USA often called Hackleback Caviar (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus)
- Sterlet Sturgeon – Caspian Sea (Acipenser ruthenus)
- Starry Sturgeon – Called Sevruga from the Caspian Sea (Acipenser stellatus)
Beluga Caviar (Huso huso) from the Caspian Sea was banned from imports to USA in 2005 and entered onto the endangered species list. The Beluga is the largest of many species of sturgeon that live longer than humans, over 100 years in age. The Beluga has been over-harvested to the brink of extinction and managers are working hard to catch poachers who are trying to catch what is left. It is common in the caviar market to put Beluga on a pedestal as to the “ultimate” caviar, unfortunately this is unfair to a fish that will likely need 100+ years of wild reproduction to not be endangered.
There are also hybrid species of sturgeon where farms have bred together different sturgeon species to create caviar with specific size and color characteristics. We carry one of these crossbreeds of two caviar producing species, the Russian Osetra Sturgeon (Acipenser Gueldenstaedtii) and the Siberian Sturgeon (Acipenser Baerii). The hybrid sturgeon combines a number of excellent characteristics from both parental species: a pleasing color varying from grey-green to dark olive, a larger grain size of 3mm or more. This Belgium artisan produced caviar is unlike any Guelden-Baerii caviar on the global market today and holds the Platinum label.
If you don’t want the hybrid you can purchase the Russian and Sierian Sturgeon separately.
The Gold Label Siberian Caviar from a broodstock of Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) is also raised in Belgium – a cold-loving species which thrives in aquaculture, and produces exceptional, dark eggs that have a mildly sweet, almost buttery flavor. Though the roe of the Siberian sturgeon is commonly on the smaller side – akin to Caspian Sevruga caviar – the eggs of the “Gold Label Siberian” range from 2.8 to 3 mm in diameter – making them larger than most Siberian caviars on the market.
The third Belgium produced Caviar we carry is the Osetra Caviar produced by the eggs of Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii), boasting medium sizes pearls are often tinted dark olive green to golden yellow. With their striking colors and pronounced and pleasingly “nuttiness” they are a heavenly experience for every connoisseur. Its slightly earthy flavor, malossol cure (lightly salted), combined with a pleasant mouth feel and texture makes Royal Belgian Osetra a top product to be instantly appreciated by every caviar aficionado.
Prime Osetra sturgeon are raised next to Dan Springs ( Kibbutz Dan ) in water from the melting snows of Mount Hermon in Israel. This pure water supplies the live sturgeon ponds naturally, runs back into Dan Stream into the Jordan River, and finally back to the Sea of Galilee. The Galilee sturgeon farmed here produce 100% pure Osetra caviar fed a natural diet of protein and plant foods specially formulated over many years of study that help the fish to produce fruitful caviar. There are no added hormones added to their diets. The caviar produced from each fish is hand packed separately and graded to flavor, color, taste and texture. This method assures that there are no mixtures of taste and keeps the production pure in flavor and quality. Caviar Galilee Osetra Prime features medium grain pearls with dark to slate color and a firm texture with a finished hazelnut flavor.
Royal Osetra is selected by hand by Browne Tradings Caviar Director, a small quantity of the best Caviar Galilee Prime is set aside and crowned “Royal.” Large grain pearls with dark blonde to gold color. Firm texture and a creamy finish similar to Beluga caviar.
The Idaho White Sturgeon Caviar selection is distinct from other White Sturgeon caviars on the domestic market due to its exceptional size, coloration, and very clean flavor. Large to medium sized eggs with a delicate texture, their color can range from a slate grey, light amber or black. The flavor is reminiscent of fine osetra with a very clean, pure finish.Selected by hand under supervision of our Caviar Director, we grade the best of our Snake River White Sturgeon caviar catch as “Royal”. These eggs are distinguished from our American White Sturgeon “Classic” Selection by larger pearls and firmer texture. Both Classic and Royal are available under a limited supply.
Mote Marine has teamed up with Healthy Earth in Sarasota, Florida to bring you Black Opal Caviar! Black Opal sturgeon and caviar are hatched and raised in the United States with minimal impact on the environment and a Monterey Bay “Best Choice” rating! Prepared using the Malossol method (a small amount of salting) without the use of antibiotics, hormones or preservatives, Black Opal’s small to medium sized shimmering black pearls have a sweet, creamy and nutty flavor that many compare to Caspian Sea Sevruga. While silky in texture they are mild in saltiness with a clean finish.