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Caviar: Varieties, Consumption, Storage and Taste

Article author photo Elen Khachatrian by Elen Khachatrian | Last updated on August 07, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Caviar is the salted roe of fish, especially sturgeon, the eggs of which resemble lustrous black pearls. It is promoted as a delicacy around the world and is eaten as a garnish, frequently as an hors d'oeuvre. Caviar is synonymous with luxury, and it is now quite expensive due to a scarcity of sturgeon.


The term 'caviar' is derived from the Greek ‘’avyron’’ (egg) or the Persian ‘’havia’’, which translates as ‘’fish roe’’.

Caviar's history begins not with the cured eggs but with the sturgeon. Sturgeon was abundant throughout the continents of Asia, Europe, and the Americas, and it was immediately recognized as a delectable nutritional powerhouse for early peoples.

Sturgeon roe was not obtained from live fish in ancient Persia but was instead collected by hand along the river beds that ran past early cities and towns.

The Persians are also credited with being the first to cure sturgeon roe, officially creating caviar before anybody else.

Throughout the twentieth century, the Caspian Sea was a major producer of sturgeon roe for caviar. Pollution and overfishing, on the other hand, have all diminished sturgeon populations in the Caspian.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service limited the import of Caspian Sea Beluga caviar in September 2005 to protect the endangered Beluga sturgeon; a month later, the prohibition was extended to cover Beluga caviar from the whole Black Sea basin.


Sturgeon eggs are like glistening black pearls. Fish are killed by removing the eggs. Then, the membrane and fatty tissue are removed by passing them through a fine mesh. The size and color of the eggs are used to categorize them. Sturgeons from the beluga, ossetra, and sevruga species produce the best caviar. You can also read the article nutrition of caviar.

To enhance flavor and preserve the eggs, they are mildly salted. Less salt indicates better quality and, therefore, more costly roe. It is more perishable, though.

Salmon, lumpfish, and whitefish are some examples of additional fish that can be used to make caviar. The roe of lumpfish may be dyed black to imitate sturgeon eggs, while the roe of salmon is red.

As a vegetarian caviar alternative, algae-based imitation caviar is made and sold.


The Caspian Sea is considered the source of the best caviar in the world. Caviar from Beluga, Ossetra, and Sevruga sturgeons is currently expensive.

The most expensive caviar is Beluga caviar, which is found mostly in the Caspian Sea. It is also found in the Black Sea basin and, on rare occasions, the Adriatic Sea. This fish has been designated an endangered species, prompting the US Fish and Wildlife Service to prohibit the importation of Beluga caviar from the Black Sea region. This was partially lifted in January 2007, permitting the sale of 96 tons of caviar, 15% less than the official 2005 quantity.

The Beluga sturgeon takes up to 20 years to mature and can weigh up to 2000 pounds. The eggs are the largest of the regularly utilized roes and range in color from light blue to black, with the lighter colors coming from older fish and being the most valuable. 

Ossetra caviar is derived from the Ossetra sturgeon, which may weigh up to 400 pounds and live for up to 50 years. The color of Ossetra caviar ranges from warm brown to green-gray, dark blue to jet black, or even white. Ossetra caviar has a nutty flavor and is considered premium caviar.

It has a stronger texture than Beluga caviar, which is more delicate. Golden Ossetra caviar is a rare variety of Ossetra caviar. It has a delicious flavor and is golden-yellow in appearance.

Sevruga caviar is one of the most expensive caviar varieties, only surpassed in price by Beluga and Ossetra. It is taken from the Caspian Sea's Sevruga sturgeon and may be distinguished from its more expensive cousins by the size of the eggs, which are normally smaller.


Eating caviar is a sensory experience that combines flavor and texture. Caviar taste usually depends on the variety. Some caviar tastes more briny or fishy than others. The tiny eggs explode in the mouth, releasing a buttery, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor. Caviar flavors have common explanations: the delicate flavor of fresh fish, sometimes smooth and nutty, full of sweet brine.

Storage and Food Safety

Keep caviar in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Serve the roe in its original container if possible.

Transferring the delicate eggs to a serving dish may cause them to break, so they're best enjoyed whole.

After 2 or 3 days, discard any unused caviar.

The best way to keep your caviar fresh is to keep it unopened and refrigerated until you're ready to eat it. Because keeping the containers vacuum-sealed is critical to preventing contamination, smaller containers are a better choice for personal use than larger ones.

After opening your caviar container, any leftovers you intend to save for later should be returned to the refrigerator. To limit air exposure during re-storage, replace the container's lid tightly. When using screw-top glass jars, it is recommended to cover the available product with a piece of food-grade plastic wrap before screwing on the lid.

The first step in storing fresh caviar is to maintain a vacuum-like environment.

A refrigerator at temperatures ranging from 26° to 36° F is required to store any quality, low-salt caviar, whether the seal is broken or not.


The best caviar should be eaten with a non-metal spoon (metal can impart a metallic flavor to the delicate flavor) and served plain. Although bone and tortoiseshell are occasionally used, mother of pearl (nacre) is the material most commonly utilized to make caviar spoons. You can sample caviar by dabbing some on the back of your hand.

Numerous canapé variations of caviar are frequently offered as an hors d'oeuvre. You may use toast points or a very thinly sliced baguette. Eggs and potatoes also work well as caviar carriers. Caviar is also used as a garnish on many restaurant dishes and as a significant component in some sushi rolls. Caviar and blini paired with sour cream are a traditional Russian pairing.


Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Education: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: August 07, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan
Data provided by should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.