Caviar has always been considered to be a delicacy enjoyed by the wealthy elite. But perhaps only a few of us “commoners” know what it really is. Those not in the know may be surprised to find out that caviar is actually made of processed, salted roe; basically, unfertilized fish eggs.
There are a number of ways of classifying caviar. The easiest and most frequently-employed classification is according to their color; specifically, red and black. The quality of the caviar’s taste, nutrition, price and appearance depends on what type of fish it is harvested from, and the standards of quality vary between the red and black caviar categories.
In the case of red caviar (which is acquired from salmon fishes), the smaller the size of the grains, the higher the caviar’s quality is. The bigger the grains are and the darker they are in color, the cheaper they come. By this standard, the highest-quality red caviar are those that are made from keta or dog salmon, whose very small grains have an orange hue with a touch of red. Coming in second is caviar from pink salmon, which have a light orange coloration. At third place is caviar made from red salmon, which have rather large maroon-colored grains. Other salmon fish from which red salmon is obtained include the coho salmon, the king salmon, and the trout.
On the other end, the quality of black caviar (which is made from sturgeon fishes, and is considered the “true” caviar) is measured by its largeness. That is, the bigger the size of the grains, the higher the quality of the caviar. Also, and somewhat ironic for “black” caviar, the darker the grains’ color is, the lower and cheaper they are in quality. Beluga caviar, for instance, has the best value; its silver gray-colored grains measuring up to a diameter of 2.5 mm. Though basically the size of a pea, it is actually the biggest (and hence, most expensive) of the caviar grades in this classification.
Second best among black caviar is that of the osetra sturgeon, with a dark-bronze shade and grains measuring just a little over 1 mm. Osetra caviar is also known for having a gentle aroma. The very light-colored stellate sturgeon comes in third, with grains that come in a variety of sizes, none of which come close to those of the previous grades, making it the smallest among the black caviar. Despite this, the stellate sturgeon caviar’s nutritional value is about equal to that of the beluga caviar’s.