How is Caviar Made?

Caviar, often referred to as "black gold" or "red gold," is a delicacy renowned for its luxurious taste and texture. Derived from the eggs of sturgeon, salmon, and other fish, caviar production is a meticulous process that has been perfected over centuries. However, production techniques have evolved from overfishing in the 1990s to environmentally friendly and sustainable production today.

The Production of Black Caviar 

Black caviar, also known as sturgeon caviar, is the most famous and sought-after type of caviar. It is traditionally harvested from sturgeon species such as Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga. The process of black caviar production can be summarised in five steps:

  1. Sturgeon Farming: To ensure sustainable caviar production, many countries have established sturgeon farms. These farms breed sturgeon in controlled environments, mimicking the natural habitat of these fish. Proper care is taken to provide optimal conditions for the sturgeon to grow and reproduce without harming the fish or the environment.
  2. Maturation: Sturgeons reach maturity at different ages, depending on the species. Once they reach the desired age, they are gently harvested for their eggs. Harvesting sturgeon at the right age is crucial for both the quality of the caviar and the well-being of the fish.
  3. Extraction: The extraction of caviar is a delicate process. After harvesting the sturgeon, the eggs are carefully removed without damaging them. The eggs are then cleaned to remove any impurities and excess membrane.
  4. Salting: Traditionally, black caviar is salted with a specific technique that enhances its flavour and preservation. The right amount of salt is crucial, and it varies based on the producer's recipe and tradition. Preservation techniques vary and can impact the quality of the product.
  5. Packaging: Once salted, the caviar is packed into tins or jars, which are then sealed to maintain freshness and flavour. The packaging is essential to protect the caviar from light, air, and temperature fluctuations. 

The Production of Red Caviar

Red caviar, often made from salmon roe, is another highly regarded delicacy. The process of red caviar production is slightly different from black caviar:

  1. Salmon Harvest: Red caviar is primarily sourced from salmon species such as salmon, trout, and steelhead. These fish are typically caught during their spawning season or grow on fish farms.
  2. Roe Extraction: After harvesting the salmon, their roes (eggs) are carefully removed from the ovaries. It's essential to ensure minimal damage to the delicate eggs during this process.
  3. Cleaning and Grading: The extracted roe is cleaned to remove any impurities and excess membrane. It is then graded based on size, colour, and texture, which leads to the different types of caviar available on the market.
  4. Salting and Flavouring: Red caviar is lightly salted to enhance its flavour and extend its shelf life. Some producers may also add flavourings like herbs, spices, or oils to create unique variations.
  5. Packaging: Similar to black caviar, red caviar is packaged in containers that protect it from light, air, and temperature fluctuations.

Sustainable Practises in Caviar Production 

During the history of caviar, sustainable practises have become a priority. A few practises ensure the balance between indulgence and conservation of this luxury product.

  • CITES Certification: CITES certification applies to both black and red caviar. It ensures that the caviar comes from legally and sustainably harvested fish, which is essential for conservation. The Caviar Company is proud to be fully certified.
  • Fishery Management: Responsible fishery management is key to maintaining healthy salmon populations. Regulations are put in place to control fishing seasons, set catch limits, and protect spawning grounds.
  • Aquaculture: Some red caviar producers are turning to aquaculture as a sustainable alternative. Farming salmon and other fish for their roe can help reduce pressure on wild populations.
  • Sturgeon Conservation: Many caviar producers actively participate in sturgeon conservation efforts. This includes restocking programmes and supporting initiatives aimed at preserving sturgeon habitats.
  • Traceability: Transparency in the supply chain is crucial for sustainable caviar production. Many producers provide information about the origin of their caviar, allowing consumers to make informed choices.

Caviar production, whether black or red, is a meticulous art that requires dedication to sustainable practises. CITES certification ensures that these luxurious delicacies come from legal and environmentally responsible sources, contributing to the preservation of sturgeon and salmon populations. As consumers, choosing sustainably sourced caviar allows us to enjoy the opulence of "black gold" and "red gold" with a clear conscience, ensuring that future generations can savour these treasures of the sea.