Caviar is simply sieved and lightly salted fish roe (eggs). Sturgeon roe is premium and considered the “true” caviar.
The three main types of caviar are beluga, osetra and sevruga. The best (and priciest) is from the beluga sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea. Beluga caviar is valued for its soft, extremely large (pea-size) eggs. It can range in color from pale silver-gray to black. Osetra is medium-sized and gray to brownish. Sevruga is the smaller gray variety. Other popular (and less expensive) varieties include lumpfish caviar (tiny, hard, black eggs), whitefish caviar (also called American Golden ) with its small yellow-gold eggs and salmon or red caviar (medium-size, pale orange to deep red eggs).
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Selecting and Storing Caviar
Caviar is highly perishable and must be refrigerated from the time it's taken from the fish to the time it's consumed. Pasteurized caviar has been partially cooked, giving the eggs a slightly different texture. It's less perishable and may not require refrigeration before opening. Pressed caviar is composed of damaged or fragile eggs and may be a combination of several different types of roe. It's treated, salted and pressed, and can't be compared to fresh caviar. Read the label on how to handle the caviar you purchase.