People choose to eat caviar in different ways, whether it’s the traditional Russian style with blini or even on a cracker. But when was the last time that you focused on where the caviar came from? And we don’t mean whether the caviar is from Canada or Germany.
These days caviar come from different types of fish. But historically, caviar came from sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea.
However, because of the high global demand for caviar, there is a ban on the fishing of caviar-producing sturgeon.
The most sought-after type of caviar comes from the Beluga Sturgeon. This type of sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish on earth and can weigh a ton, thanks to the sturgeon’s habit of non-stop eating.
The largest female beluga ever caught weighed around 1100kg and was said to have produced around 400kg of roe.
The Beluga is the most coveted of the types of caviar not just because of its taste. It’s also because of how rare it is. The Beluga Sturgeon can only produce eggs when it reaches maturity.
Unfortunately, unlike the salmon, which takes about 3 years before being able to produce eggs, Beluga Sturgeon takes at least a decade to mature.
The Beluga produces eggs every seven years, but the eggs tend to be plentiful. It produces a lot of roe because only a small number of fish that hatch would survive in the wild. In fact, the ovaries of a Beluga can be as large as that of a sheep.
The colour of the roe tends to vary, depending on the fish’s diet and how long from the spawning cycle the roe were taken. Fishermen tend to prefer roe from fish caught a couple of days before spawning. They even keep the fish alive if they’ve been fished too early so that the eggs would be ripe, which makes for the best caviar.
Because of the fishing ban in the Caspian Sea, people turned to aquaculture or aquafarming.
Caviar farms in Canada have yielded caviar now available in the market. However, because of the beluga’s long maturity and how new aquaculture is, it will take some years before the first farmed beluga caviar will hit the market.
Until then, there are other types of organic caviar in Canada that can be purchased, such as the Fraser River sturgeon caviar produced by Northern Divine Caviar.
(Source: “Caviar: The Strange History and Uncertain Future of the World’s Most Coveted Delicacy” by Inga Saffron.)