Beluga Caviar comes from the Huso Huso sturgeon. The fish was originally native from Azov Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Beluga Caviar is the rarest and most expensive Caviar, being characterized by large eggs slightly oval and with a pearly grey to dark grey colour.
Huso Huso is the Binomial name
Binomial nomenclature (also called binominal nomenclature or binary nomenclature) is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages….
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Caviar is generally graded as follows:
1) By size and texture of its beads (larger, firmer beads that pop in our mouth are more rare, and thus more expensive)
2) By flavor, as a general rule more mildly flavored caviars tend to be more rare. However, the species of the fish, how it was raised, and how the caviar was treated and matured can vastly affect the final flavor.
How To Purchase Caviar
1) More Expensive is NOT ALWAYS Better
What we are now facing is: even the most inexpensive sturgeon caviar is still going to be expensive. We should expect spending at least US$50 to US$75 for 30 grams (1 ounce) — just enough for two people for a few bites. But the prices can get astronomically high. The Special Reserve Ossetra sturgeon runs at $12,000 a kilo, or $378 for a 30 gram. The main factor determining the price of the caviar is its rarity, but it does not mean that the more rare caviar tastes better to all people.
2) Start at the low end priced caviar
Caviar can be an acquired taste, and like many expensive foods prized for the complexity. There is a learning curve when it comes to appreciating their subtlety. Dive right into the deep end with the more expensive caviars, and most likely those more delicate flavors will be missed on you, and your money will have been wasted.
A better access is starting on the relatively inexpensive, but still high quality, caviar. Taste it carefully and thoughtfully to figure out what it is you like about it, buttery richness and nutty flavor? Or perhaps a more pronounced fishiness and saltiness? Once you can answer these questions, you are capable talking to the salesperson and assisting them offer a caviar which is custom-suited to your personal preferences.
3) If the salesperon don’t let you taste it, shop somewhere else
Caviars can vary from batch to batch or tin to tin, even from the same farm or same species of fish. For this reason, past experience is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Take it one step further: insist on tasting a sample of caviar from the actual tin you are planning on purchaseing. An unscrupulous caviar salesman is not above the old bait-and-switch, swapping out a tin of dry or sub-par caviar.
4) Make sure purchase just enough quantity
First-time caviar tasters often go into the shop for a tiny nibble, placing half dozen eggs on their tongue. It is impossible tasting caviar in this way. We must have sufficient quantity rolling on our tongue to understand the aroma and texture. 5 grams (a heaping half teaspoon) is a more reasonable size for a taste.
For this reason, a 30 gram tin (about 1 ounce) should be the absolute minimum quantity shopping for two people. Those cute little 10 gram tins are only suitable for tasting by one person, with only a couple bites.
5) To be careful when purchase online or black market caviar
Referring to Rule 3 above, this one goes without saying. There is no guarantee of quality for any caviar we cannot taste ourselves, therefore purchasinging from an online source is an almost guaranteed way to get sub-par product. If we must purchase online, shop at a reputable source who is committed to keeping that good reputation.
6) Only purchase sufficient quantity. We need and consume it rapidly
Once it is sold and the tin is opened, it can very rapidly change in quality, developing fishier aromas, the eggs softening, turning stickier or oilier, liquid weeping out into the tin. Once we have bought the caviar keep it refrigerated until you open the tin, which should be done within a few days of purchase. Once opened, the caviar should be consumed within a day.
Color Of Tins
- Beluga caviar – always comes in blue tins
- Osetra caviar – in yellow tins
- Sevruga caviar – in red tins.
Caviar Types and Varieties
Fine caviar is rated according to…
- Size and color of its roe
- Method of processing
Color is designated by…
- 000 for light caviar
- 00 for medium
- 0 for dark
Method of processing:
- First is the Malossol method, preferred by connoisseurs. Malossol means ‘little salt’ or ‘lightly salted’ and refers to fresh caviar with less than 5% salt. Modern fresh caviar often has much less, about 3.5%. The term is sometimes used to describe any high quality caviar, though.
- The second caviar type and quality is Salted Caviar, sometimes called ‘semi-preserved’ caviar. It contains up to 8% salt. The more salt, the longer the shelf life, but taste may be compromised.
- Pressed Caviar is next in quality. Made from too-soft, damaged, broken and overly ripe eggs, it is treated, highly salted, and pressed to a jam-like consistency. Once the only method available for preserving caviar, this is still the favorite of many connoisseurs for its strong, concentrated flavor.
- The last of the caviar types is Pasteurized Caviar. Fresh caviar is heat-treated and vacuum packed in glass jars for much longer preservation. Both taste and texture may be affected.
Selecting the right Caviar:
- Bring along a container of ice, or request one from the dealer- to keep the caviar chilled during the transport home.
- At the dealer, ask to have the sealed jar opened so that you can smell the caviar you intend to purchase. The caviar should smell briny, but definitely not fishy.
- Read the label to check for specific details and expiration date.
- Inspect the caviar roe to ensure none of the eggs are broken.
- The egg shells should be vibrant looking and shiny (and not dull or cloudy).
- The caviar you buy should be chilled but never frozen. Be aware of dealers who frequently freeze their caviar, (done to increase the overall shelf-life) as freezing can often be detrimental to the caviar- freezing can cause the eggs to burst.
- Understand the difference between the various types and grades of true caviar (beluga, ostera, sevruga), as well as various non-sturgeon types available as well (paddlefish, whitefish, bowfin, salmon, trout etc.).
- For tins of caviar, a colour coding system is used for packaging (beluga in blue tins, osetra in red tins, sevruga in yellow tins).
- Once opened and served, fresh caviar should be used and consumed within 1-2 days.
- Like any seafood, caviar needs to be properly stored to ensure freshness, as well as refrigerated at the right temperature to maintain preservation and flavor.
- All jarred and tinned caviar will require refrigeration. Read labels carefully for storage instructions. Unopened caviar needs to be refrigerated and can be stored for up to two months.
- Ideally store the caviar in the back of the fridge to avoid temperature fluctuations with the opening/closing of the door (if kept at the front).
- Cover opened caviar tightly with plastic wrap ensuring the roe is not exposed to the air.
- Pasteurized caviar leftovers should be consumed within a week of opening.
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