Caviar Glossary of Terms

The following list represents a list of terms to help you better understand the world of caviar. 

Acipenseridae: In biology, the Family that includes 26 species of fish, including the sturgeon.

American Black Caviar: Also known as Bowfin caviar.

American Caviar: Non-sturgeon based caviar originating in the United States (for example caviar from Paddlefish, Whitefish etc.)

Anadromous: Saltwater fish that swims to freshwater (rivers, lakes, Caspian Sea) to spawn (for example the sturgeon).

Avruga Caviar (Herring): A Spanish product consisting of unpasteurized caviar using the roe of the Herring.

Beads: Another name for caviar eggs (also called pearls).

Beluga- Huso Huso: Name for the largest species of Sturgeon which is native to the Caspian and Black Sea. Renown  for their robust, pea-shaped eggs. 

Black Caviar: Traditionally, black caviar was a common name given to caviar originating from the Caspain Sea (namely-beluga, osetra, sevruga), however today it refers to any black roe (dyed or naturally occurring).

Color Codes: A colour separation system used to help identify the type of caviar in different coloured tins. For example Beluga is packaged in blue tins, sevruga in red tins, and osetra in yellow tins.

Correct Caviar: Caviar that is produced using surgical techniques to removes fish eggs, without killing the sturgeon. In addition, it is processed without the addition of Borax (Sodium tetra borate- which is used to preserve caviar flavor. Illegal in the US (which uses increased salt levels for preservation)).

Malossol: Widely-used Russian term denoting lightly salted caviar (containing 3-5% salt). Despite the lowered shelf-life, it is the preferred flavor of caviar compared to higher-salting.

Osetra: Caviar from the Russian sturgeon.

Pasteurized: The process of heating tins or jars of caviar (65 degrees Celsius/149 degrees Fahrenheit) to remove bacteria and increase overall shelf-life. 

Pressed Caviar: Traditionally made by pressing eggs that have been damaged during the extraction process; pressed caviar resembles a paste or jam and is often served in tins, jars, or tubes and produces a rich, concentrated taste.

Red Caviar: Roe that is red in colour, (salmon, masago, and tobiko).

Roe: The eggs of a fish. Also referred to as beads, berries, grains, and pearls. Once roe has been salted it becomes caviar.

Salted Caviar: Caviar that has a salt content that exceeds 5%. Higher salt increases overall preservation, but at the trade-off for flavor.

Sevruga: Caviar from the Stellate sturgeon (starry sturgeon).

Sustainable Caviar: “Caviar that is farmed or fished in a responsible manner that does not deplete the resource.”

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