What Is Caviar? Why Is It Expensive?

What is Caviar? Caviar is among the most expensive meals available all over the world, savored by many and selling for as much as $35,000 for a 1kg. Caviar originates from the species of fish known as Sturgeon, which has been in existence for over 250 million years.

Caviar is staggeringly popular in the United States, importing 60% of world supplies. From 1989 to 1997, the United States imported an average of 130,000 pounds of caviar per year, worth about $6.6 million!

The first person to have eaten caviar dates back to the Greek scholar, Aristotle in the 4th Century B.C. It is thanks to the Russian Tsars that made caviar one of the most luxurious foods in the world today.

Because of the long and complex history of caviar, a lot of people believe it’s similar to eggs of fish, but we’re here to tell you that this is not the case. Nothing could be further from the truth!

If you’re new to the caviar world you may have conducted some research and are thinking about the differences between caviar and roe.

This is a frequent issue that can cause some confusion for many since the words caviar and roe both refer to eggs of fish. A lot of restaurants try to identify any roe of fish that they offer as caviar however, don’t let this deceive you and your wallet!

Read on to discover more key information about caviar and what really makes it so expensive!

What Is Caviar?

Caviar isn’t only the roe in the sushi at the United States restaurant. Caviar is a lot more and more. It’s a delicious sweet treat that is sought-after by many as an exquisite delicacy all over the globe. The fish roe is a product of any fish found in the ocean.

However, caviar originates from the eggs of a Sturgeon fish. True sturgeon caviar is composed of eggs from sturgeon that have been carefully salted and then prepared to make use of methods such as the “Malossol” method. This technique is widely used in Russia as “malossol” translates to “little salt”.

What Fish Does Caviar Come From?

Caviar is eggs or roe produced from the sturgeon and only sturgeon eggs are regarded as caviar. They are traditionally sourced from the Caspian and Black Seas.

How Much Does Caviar Cost?

The average market price for caviar starts at $50 to $75 for 30 grams (1 ounce). That amount of caviar is enough for a few good bites for two people. There is even more luxurious caviar that commands higher prices. The Special Reserve Ossetra from Petrossian starts at $12,000 a kilo, or $378 for a 30-gram tin.

Harrods of London is known to source and sell some of the most expensive and sought-after caviar in the world.

Why Is Caviar So Expensive?

Caviar is expensive because sturgeon fish takes approximately 10-15 years until she starts producing eggs.

Price Difference Between Caviar vs Mock Caviar

As you will see in the table between Romanoff Caviar and Marky’s Sevruga Premium Caviar, there is a huge price difference because of one simple thing: one is real premium caviar and the other is mock caviar.

Romanoff ‘Caviar’ looks the part, but it’s much cheaper. Caviar enthusiasts would call it mock caviar because it’s not sourced the fish eggs from a sturgeon.

Caviar NameCaviar FeaturesPrice
Romanoff Caviar
Romanoff Caviar

A great alternative to Russian Sevruga Caviar. It’s mock caviar, so it’s affordable.

Flavor: Fresh Sea
Weight: 2 Ounces
Package: Jar

Our Pick2
Marky’s Sevruga Premium Sturgeon Black Caviar
Marky’s Sevruga Premium Black Caviar

Real authentic Russian Sevruga caviar.

Flavor: Sweet Ocean
Weight: 4 Ounces
Package: Jar

What Is Fish Roe?

Fish roe, sometimes referred to as sturgeon roe is the term used to describe female eggs of fish. Roe is derived from varieties of fish like trout, salmon, or mackerel. Roe from fish has grown in popularity since it’s packed with nutrients that nourish your body like Omega-3 fats, Vitamin D, B12, and there are more surprising ones!

In addition, it is a part of many tasty recipes, it is a reasonable option for those who want to include something that resembles caviar into their diet, but without the high cost! If you purchase fish roe in the US it has to identify the type of fish that region where it was taken.

What Is Sturgeon?

A sturgeon is a species of fish that can be seen from the time that dinosaurs were roaming the earth. They can live for at least 100 years old and have the potential to grow to over 1000 pounds.

Sturgeons belong to the Acipenseridae family, which is found mostly within areas like the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and regions in the Pacific Northwest, the South Atlantic regions of North America, and in large European lakes and rivers.

There are 27 distinct species of sturgeon, with 18 classified as endangered due to the excessive harvesting of roe to make caviar.

What Types of Caviar Are There?

There’s a wide selection of caviar in the marketplace. Certain caviars are superior to others in taste, and some are priced higher than other brands. It’s all about personal your personal preference. As opposed to salmon roe these are among the most well-known and classic caviars that are available on the market currently.

How do you like your caviar?

What Does Caviar Taste Like?

The best way to describe the taste and flavor of caviar is making me want some; fresh sea, a touch of salt, the delicacy of expensive fresh fish, silky smooth and light taste of nut, jam-packed with sweetness from the brine that pops and melts in your mouth. You can easily smell the distance richness from caviar, it’s like raw oysters but richer!

What To Eat With Caviar? What To Serve With Caviar?

Most people eat caviar by itself as a luxurious snack or as an entrée somewhere like The Savoy, alongside a glass of champagne. So I guess you could probably eat it with about anything, like pizza, pasta, potato chips, scrambled eggs, onion dips, cheese boards, or even roasted potatoes?

What Is Mock Caviar?

The average person thinks every female fish eggs are caviar, but that is incorrect and it’s why a lot of caviar experts and connoisseurs now call anything that isn’t from sturgeon, mock caviar.

It’s best to similarize it as replica caviar – it’s not the real eggs harvested from a sturgeon. It’s similar to the Champagne analogy I used at the start of this guide: mock caviar is a bottle of sparkling wine/prosecco, it’s good but it will never be as good as a bottle of champagne!

Interesting Facts & Questions

What Is Caviar Made of?

Caviar is unfertilized fish eggs, some refer to as fish roe. It can be described as a salty delicacy that is served cold. Authentic caviar comes from wild sturgeon, which belongs to the Acipenseridae family.

Are Caviar Eggs Alive?

No, Caviar eggs are not alive. Caviar is only produced from unfertilized fish eggs. The eggs are harvested from the fish before they are fertilized, so they have no chance of developing into baby fish.

Is Caviar Healthy To Eat?

Yes, it’s highly nutritious, with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and selenium, with many other vitamins and minerals — even in small serving sizes.

What Are The Benefits of Caviar?

There is a wide variety of health benefits from eating such an expensive delicacy as vitamin B12 boost. Caviar is very high in vitamin B12, which is vital to your body functioning normally, very high in natural fats, helps with keeping skin young and healthy, supports your immune system, and is a great source of calcium.

How To Eat Caviar?

Take a small pinch of the caviar, use your tongue to feel the beads of fish eggs and you will taste immediately the buttery fatness (good fats). By taking small bites of this expensive delicacy you will enjoy it more, take the time to savor every bead of caviar.

Is Caviar Fish Sperm?

No, caviar is not fish sperm. Caviar is in fact the unfertilized fish eggs of a sturgeon fish.

Is Caviar A Fish Poo?

No, caviar is most certainly not fish poo.

Does Caviar Need To Be Regrigerated?

Yes, caviar needs to be refrigerated. Keep canned caviar in the coldest part of your fridge. The ideal temperature for caviar storage is 27 degrees F.

How Long Does Caviar Last?

An unopened can or tin will stay at its freshest for up to four weeks, but once you open it will last up to three days. Caviar is very luxurious and because of that, it’s best consumed on the day you open it.

Do Vegeterians Eat Caviar?

No, vegetarians or vegans won’t eat caviar. This is because it’s a fish egg that is still part of the fish’s body. Vegetarians and vegans do not eat anything from an animal, however, a pescatarian can eat caviar.

What Happens If You Eat Too Much Caviar?

If you are eating too much caviar, you must be very wealthy. However, per four ounces of caviar, you consume five times the requirement of sodium in your daily diet. You will find your blood pressure going through the roof and developing heart-related problems.

Is Caviar Halal In Islam?

Yes, caviar is halal and permitted in Islam. Presumably due to the stigma of being luxurious and wealthy Sheikhs want to spend lavishly on things to showcase their social status at dinner tables.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.

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