Caviar Cheat Sheet: Caviar Species, Caviar Farms, and Caviar Grades Explained
When it comes to caviar, complex terminology and fantastical names come to mind. If you agree with this sentiment, look no further than our very own caviar cheat sheet. In this caviar cheat sheet, you will learn about different caviar species, their farm origins, and their important corresponding grade.
The most common caviar species are osetra sturgeon, siberian sturgeon, white sturgeon, and beluga sturgeon. Of those 4 varieties, different hybrid breeds exist, such as osetra siberian and beluga siberian.
These 4 main sturgeon species and their hybrids receive heavy regulation by the FDA and customs. In fact, all caviar from these 4 species must be farmed for legal US consumption.Osetra Sturgeon
The word osetra translates to ‘sturgeon’ in Russian, making it commonly confusing and often misused. When we use the word ‘osetra’ at Browne Trading, we always mean the sturgeon species.
Osetra tends to have a mild, creamy flavor with less brine. The color tends to be dark brown but can range. The pearl size is medium to large.
Many people think siberian caviar must come from Siberia. However, siberian usually refers to the species. Notably, the US stopped importing Russian caviar in 2008.
Siberian pearls tends to be salty, smaller in size than osetra, and commonly black or steel gray in color.
A hybrid caviar of siberian and osetra takes on the characteristics of both siberian and osetra sturgeon.
Beluga is the crème de le crème when it comes to caviar. So much so that these sturgeon were overfished and are now illegal to import, wild of farmed. The one exception is beluga hybrid sturgeon. For this reason, Browne Trading carries an Italian beluga siberian hybrid caviar.
We also carry a domestic farmed purebred beluga. This also is an exception to the beluga rule because it is farmed in the US.
Beluga tends to have large, creamy pearls that are black in color.
Beluga’s rarity plus its surplus time to raise for maturation (15-20 years!), makes this caviar the most expensive.
In short, the older the fish > the larger the egg > the bigger the yolk > the creamier the texture and taste.
Contrary to its name, white sturgeon produce black eggs. The sturgeon name comes from the fish’s outer appearance. We carry a high and medium grade of white sturgeon, both farm raised in the US. Their taste, color, and size of pearl depends on the grade. The larger, lighter, and creamier the pearl, the higher the grade.
Browne Trading is the ONLY U.S. company that buys directly from international caviar farms. These close relationships mean we receive their top kilos of caviar eggs.
Our top caviar farm relationships:
Royal Belgian – Based in Belgium. We carry their osetra, sterlet, siberian, and platinum (osetra siberian hybrid)
Giaveri – based in Italy. We carry their osetra, sterlet, siberian, and beluga siberian hybrid.
Galilee – based in Israel. We carry their osetra caviar.
Imperial – based in China. We carry their kaluga, osetra, almaz (hybrid), amur, kaluga, and gold osetra,
Grade refers to its in-house assessment. Our expert team assesses each kilo of caviar for its tone, taste, and texture. Larger pearls tend to be a higher grade than smaller because it means it took longer to grow to that size. Lighter color pearls tend to be a higher grade because they are more desirable. Creamier pearls tends to receive a higher grade than super salty pearls.
With that said, all our caviars are the best of the best and you can never go wrong with your own taste. Shop for your preferred taste always.