Caviar - Sturgeon are encountered in many
countries, notably Russia, from Siberia to the Volga river and the Caspian
sea, Romania, and China. Connoisseurs recognize caviar from Caspian Sea
sturgeon as the best, because of the quality of the eggs produced, which
are darker, with a bigger grain.
Beluga the largest and most expensive
Oestova, Osietr second in size rarity and price
Sevruga the smallest eggs, the most plentiful and the least expensive
Pausnaya or pressed caviar are salted bricks made of Oestrova and Sevruga eggs that have been discarded for various quality reasons and the cost is about one fourth that of Oestrova.
The high price of caviar is not only a result of its rarity but in the painstaking preparation required to make a quality product. Sturgeon weighing sometimes hundreds of pounds are landed, eggs must be immediately extracted while the fish is still living. The eggs must then be carefully rolled over screens to separate them from undesirable fat and bits of ovary matter. Salt is worked in at the same time (4 to 6 percent). The more salt the higher level of preservation but the less salt the more delicate the flavor and the higher the price.
The name for premium caviar is Malassol which is Russian for lightly salted.
Iranian Caviar usually contains less salt than Russian so caution must be give to spoilage. Iranian caviar also contains borax with the salt which is believed to bring out more of the caviar flavor. The addition of borax is prohibited in the United States therefore Iranian Caviar is unavailable in the U.S.