Caviar is a delicacy that is enjoyed throughout the world. It is eaten in many different ways, including as a spread, a garnish, or on its own and washed down with champagne. It is widely regarded for its unique flavor and texture. Caviar is considered to be a luxury food because it can be very expensive and it can easily cost over $200 per ounce depending on the variety. The high price for caviar, relates directly to where it comes from and how it is obtained.
Where does caviar come from?
Traditionally, caviar comes from the unfertilized eggs of the sturgeon fish in the Caspian and Black Sea. Caviar from these areas is still the most highly sort after type and can easily fetch over $10,000 per kilo. Depending on the country of origin, the word caviar is now used for eggs of other species of fish such as salmon and trout. However, in many regions this use is prohibited and they are referred to as salmon or trout roe or caviar substitutes.
The traditional method of extracting the eggs from the female fish is to catch and kill the fish and then remove the ovaries. This led to a severe decline in the sturgeon and a ban on beluga caviar that was harvested from the rare beluga sturgeon. This process of egg removal still exists today, but more modern techniques are beginning to be used. For example, fish farmers can remove the eggs surgically and then stitch up the wound allowing the fish to live and produce more eggs. A new technique called stripping has been developed and this does not hurt the fish at all!
The top producers of caviar are Iran (300 tons annually) and Russia. However, many countries now farm the sturgeon and produce caviar in a more environmentally friendly manner.