Connoisseur’s Guide to Caviar

Black caviar
Written by Aksel Ritenis

Black caviar

Caviar has always been the delicacy of aristocrats and sophisticated gourmands. Even though nowadays you can buy black or red caviar in many stores they are nowhere near a match to the real thing. There are more than 400 species of sturgeon in the world but only three of them – Beluga, Oscierte, Sevruga (Huso Huso, A gueldenstaedi, A sellatus – in Latin) which inhabit the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea are used to obtain caviar.

The caviar has four types. The first – the Golden or Royal caviar – is the most exclusive, the most expensive, the rarest and the most difficult to obtain. In former times it was specially saved for consummation by the Russian czars, Manchurian imperators and the Vatican only. Until quite recently in Iran this caviar was exclusively delivered for the Sheik alone, but if someone else was caught eating the Royal caviar he was punished by cutting off his right hand.

There is no single notion about the origins of the Royal caviar – some consider that it is acquired from the Oscierte sturgeons that are over 60 years old and in the course of time their caviar gain a pale golden shade, as the flavour becomes smooth, creamy and tender. Others in their turn believe that the Royal caviar is obtained from the Beluga or Oscierte sturgeons – albinos whose caviar is in an offwhite colour. The sturgeon – albino caviar is very expensive because these fish are extremely rare even though in taste the albino caviar very slightly differs from the pale Oscierte sturgeon’s caviar.

The next one is the Oscierte sturgeon caviar (A gueldenstaedi) which in its way is the most interesting because it has the widest range of caviar sizes, colours and flavours. These sturgeons produce caviar at the age of 12–15. The caviar of the youngest individuals is large with a dark golden shade. When the sturgeons get older the colour of their caviar fades to light amber and the flavour gets tenderer. Some say that when the fish get older they become smarter and dive to the bottom of the sea and, to avoid fishermen, bury themselves in mud and seaweed which in its turn affect the taste both of the sturgeons and their caviar.

The Beluga sturgeon (Huso Huso) is the biggest and the only one that is a carnivore. It is so rare that the number of Beluga sturgeons caught each year in the Caspian Sea rarely surpasses a hundred. These fish mature only at the age of 25–40, which is also when they start producing caviar, which is the third caviar type. The Beluga sturgeons carry caviar that weighs about 25% of their mass but there have also been some cases when a sturgeon carries caviar that weighs 50% of its mass. The Beluga sturgeons are highly valued for their big, granular caviar with fine shells. The shades of the caviar vary from light grey to almost black but the most highly valued caviar is the light grey one.

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Axel is the Editor and Publisher of Connoisseur Magazine "for the Finer Things in Life" and has been the custodian of the magazine for over 10 years and leader of a team of freelance Journalists and Community Members who continue to make it all happen!-Join the Team at Connoisseur Magazine!

Leave a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest

error: Content is protected !!