Many people have never had the luxury of sampling one of the world’s oldest and tastiest delicacies. Whether you are brand new to the world of caviar or have already sampled a few favorites, the vast amount of choices can be overwhelming and confusing. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of caviar you are likely to encounter and show you how to buy caviar to try at home.
Types of Caviar
All true caviar comes from a magnificent fish called sturgeon. There are 27 known types of sturgeon alive today, although 18 of those are now on the endangered species list. The three most famous types of caviar are Beluga, Osetra, and Kaluga, which are all different species of sturgeon.
Beluga is known as the creme de la creme in the world of caviar. Its popularity put this species on the endangered list and it has been illegal to import into the United States since 2005. Known for its large, grey, beads and smooth, buttery flavor, it has been the choice of royalty for centuries.
Osetra is known for its range of shades in amber, gold, and brown. It is considered by many to be second only to Beluga.
Finally, Kaluga is popular for a similar taste, albeit a bit saltier, to that of Beluga. You can satisfy your desire for exceptional caviar while remaining ethical. Some boutique producers are experimenting with hybrids to allow a variety of flavors and give consumers a better price point when sampling caviar.
Quality and Freshness
The two most important factors in determining how to buy the best caviar will come in terms of quality and freshness. The ability to purchase caviar online enables you to obtain a fresher product. Look for a producer that will have your caviar shipped to you in a matter of days, instead of purchasing a product that has been sitting on a shelf for weeks. This will make a huge difference in the quality and flavor of your caviar.
Don’t be fooled by clever marketing promising “royal” or “gold standard” products. Instead, look for keywords that will help inform you of the quality of the product. “Malossol” means the salt content of the caviar is less than three percent. This is important because too much salt can overpower the natural flavor of the eggs. If you see pasteurized or pressed caviar products, they will likely be more affordable, but the number of salt increases and will affect the overall flavor and freshness.
While you can certainly find quality caviar in your favorite gourmet grocery, buying online also has its advantages. What you lose from the personal assistance at the specialty grocery store is more than made up for when buying online. The internet gives you an inside view of the producers of the product. That way, you can ensure the fishery is practicing ethical and sustainable aquaculture. You can see what specific species of sturgeon the roe is harvested from and learn a bit about the environment they are raised in. It is also important to read consumer reviews in order to verify quality experiences. Be sure to leave your own reviews for products you sample to help others in the process.
Don’t be afraid to step outside the world of conventional caviar. There are many hybrid and unique versions coming onto the scene that is sure to surprise and delight. Trout, capelin, paddlefish, and salmon are a few that are quickly gaining popularity for their unique flavor profiles as well and their pocketbook-friendly price points.