Caviar is a dish that has been eaten traditionally in Scandanavian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean civilizations for thousands of years. However, modern refrigeration has now made it possible to ship this Eastern delicacy all around the world. American farmed caviar is just as good, if not better than foreign caviar, though.
So what is the best American caviar? The best osetra caviar is Marshallberg Farm’s osetra caviar. The best beluga caviar is Marky’s beluga caviar and the best hackleback caviar is Russ and Daughters hackleback caviar.
One of the reasons why forgeign caviar is so expensive is due to trade tariffs banning the import and export of certain sturgeon species. In response, America started producing its own farm-raised caviar!
If you’re looking for the best American caviar reviews, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll tell you exactly where to find your favorite type of caviar, whether you’re looking for osetra, white sturgeon, or even the famed beluga sturgeon. We’ll also mention where you can find some more affordable roe such as paddlefish and salmon caviar. And don’t forget to check out my page to discover some more must-try caviar products!
The Best American Sturgeon Caviar Reviews
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the top-rated American caviar brands such as Marshallberg Farms, Sturgeon AquaFarms, Olma, Tsar Nicoulai, and Marky’s Caviar. While there aren’t many caviar producers here in the U.S., the handful of sturgeon farms that do exist have developed a reputation for producing quality caviar.
Caviar consists of the roe (fish eggs) that have been harvested from a pregnant female sturgeon.
Sturgeon are biological cousins of the shark and have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
They can grow incredibly large (up to 24-feet-long) and can weigh as much as a family SUV. Pregnant females can carry up to 100 pounds of caviar, which goes for well over $250,000 U.S. Dollars once it’s been packed and shipped around the world.
When farmed in captivity, sturgeon generally don’t grow as large as they would in the wild. However, American sturgeon farms have done what wild fisheries could not- they’ve managed to produce sustainable caviar. Sturgeon are endangered in their natural habitats due to overfishing, and farms have managed to bring the species back from the brink so that everyone can continue enjoying caviar.
Sturgeon caviar is widely regarded as the best American caviar due to the rich flavor that makes it clearly distinguishable from other fish roe. There are several different varieties of sturgeon, though, and each produces its own unique caviar. Let’s take a look at some of the best American sturgeon brands!
The Best Osetra Caviar: Marshallberg Farm’s Osetra Caviar
Osetra sturgeon are native to Russia’s Caspian Sea. However, there is one American osetra farm, and it’s located in North Carolina. Marshallberg Farms is the only licensed osetra farm in the United States, and they have developed a reputation for producing some incredible caviar.
Their secret is quality. They focus on a “hatch to harvest” model that ensures that the osetra is sustainably farmed in a good environment that ensures optimal flavor and taste when it comes time to harvest the caviar.
If you’ve researched anything about caviar, then you probably understand that the final taste of caviar is almost always a product of the sturgeon’s environment. Marshallberg Farms ensures that all of their osetra are fed a great diet, have room to swim and exercise, and take pride in not using any hormones or antibiotics (which can hurt the taste) during the production of their caviar.
Marshallberg Farms’ osetra caviar has a rich, slightly brined flavor. They offer three different grades including:
- Classic Osetra Caviar (black caviar)
- Superior Osetra Caviar (brown caviar)
- Gold Reserve Osetra Caviar (gold caviar)
Less than 1% of the farm’s osetra females produce the fabled gold reserve caviar, and it’s been highly reviewed by food critics around the country as being one of the top caviars produced in America. It’s also $240/ounce.
The Best Beluga Caviar: Marky’s Beluga Caviar
If osetra caviar is the second-most expensive roe in the world, then beluga is the most expensive caviar in the world. Due to a rapidly declining beluga population, the import and sale of beluga caviar were banned in the United States in 2005.
Sturgeon AquaFarms is the only legal producer of beluga caviar in America. They escaped the ban because the farm was founded in 2003. Local laws allowed them to stay in business since they had a sustainable pre-existing business.
The farm has a partnership with Marky’s Caviar, who packages the beluga caviar and sells it for $420/ounce. The eggs range in color between dark brown and black.
Once you open the jar of caviar, you’ll immediately get a strong whiff of the saltwater solution they’re brined in. As you take the flavor in bite by bite, you’ll notice a very light fish flavor, followed by a warm nuttiness and a smooth finish that only beluga caviar can offer.
The quality of Marky’s Beluga Caviar is like no other due to the in-depth farming process used to harvest the eggs.
Sturgeon AquaFarms was founded by a Russian immigrant named Mark Zaslavsky, who’s family had a history of sturgeon farming and fishing in Russia. Part of the reason he was allowed to stay in business was that he made a deal with the U.S. government, requiring him to pledge a
percentage of fertilized beluga eggs to re-population efforts in the wild.
In this interview, Zaslavsky claimed that he spends over $40,000 every month feeding his Beluga multiple times a day. His fish are huge, and in order to produce the country’s most expensive caviar, he ensures that they have a constant supply of fresh saltwater and oxygen. By taking the utmost care of his beluga stock, his beluga caviar easily rivals Russian caviar.
The Best White Sturgeon Caviar: Tsar Nicoulai Caviar
Tsar Nicoulai is a small sturgeon farm located in Wilton, California (they also produce some incredible beef). Since it was founded in 1984, they’ve focused on a true farm-to-table approach that shows the utmost care when raising their white sturgeon. They even sing to their fish!
Apart from the singing bit, all of the sturgeon are kept outdoors in large saltwater tanks. They are fed an exclusive diet of non-GMO fish food and get plenty of fresh oxygen and sunlight. All of these factors allow this farm to produce what is easily the best white sturgeon caviar in the country!
They offer several different grades of white sturgeon caviar including:
- Classic (brown/black caviar, small beads)
- Estate (dark brown caviar, medium beads)
- Select (brown/platinum caviar, large beads)
- Reserve (light brown caviar, large beads)
- Golden Reserve (golden caviar, medium beads)
- Crown Jewel (gold and silver caviar, large beads)
The classic, estate, and select come from younger sturgeon and are more common flavors. The beads are darker, the flavor is a bit brinier, and they have a wonderful pop as you eat them. They’re excellent for pairing with a cracker or for garnishing sushi.
The reserve, golden reserve, and crown jewel are their rarer caviars as they typically come from more mature sturgeon (which produce fewer eggs). These light brown and golden caviar types have a wonderful nutty flavor, with a smooth, buttery finish. They’re best enjoyed by themself.
The Best Kaluga Caviar: Olma Royal Kaluga Caviar
If you’re looking for excellent caviar that’s comparable to beluga caviar but that doesn’t come with the insanely expensive price, then kaluga caviar is your next best bet. The flavor is easily mistaken for beluga and it’s noticeably more affordable.
Olma Foods sells one of the top-rated kaluga caviars on the market! They source their roe from a variety of American sturgeon farms which allows them to always ensure a consistent product. All of their caviar is sourced from sustainablefarms like the ones we’ve mentioned above, so you’ll never have to worry about consuming harmful antibiotics, growth hormones, or chemicals.
Olma’s kaluga royal caviar is easily identifiable by its light brown, platinum, and gold-flecked color. The beads tend to be a mix of medium and large-sized pearls as they get their roe from the more mature kaluga that produce larger, better-flavored eggs.
While you could use Olma’s kaluga as a topping, it’s such a delicious product that you’re better off eating it by itself and possibly enjoying a glass of fine Champagne on the side!
Olma uses a light briny that’s not overly salty, which results in an incredibly smooth texture as the beads roll across your palette. You’ll be able to pick up a nutty flavor that tastes almost oily. Each pearl is full and bursting with flavor.
Once you try it, you’ll understand why they call it “royal” caviar.
The Best Hackleback Caviar: Russ And Daughters Hackleback Caviar
Hackleback is a type of sturgeon that’s commonly found in U.S. Rivers and is commonly sold as “American sturgeon” since it’s native (as opposed to an imported breed from Russia). Russ and Daughters is a small family-owned company that sources a variety of domestic, sustainably harvested caviar types.
One of their best-selling caviars that they’ve become well known for is their hackleback! They source medium to large-sized beads to ensure maximum flavor and sell them in tins ranging from 50-grams (around $80) to 500-grams (around $580).
Many have compared the taste and flavor of hackleback caviar to the Caspian Sea’s Russian osetra caviar. It tends to be significantly more affordable than American osetra (since there are only a handful of osetra farms in the U.S.) and offers the same warm, nutty flavor, and buttery finish.
The Best Alternative Caviars In America
Sturgeon caviar is, by far, the most traditional and highly-valued roe. However, as caviar has become more popular, the demand has risen. Let’s face it- not everybody can pay hundreds of dollars for a small serving of beluga or white sturgeon caviar.
In order to cater to a broader market, many of America’s top-producing sturgeon farms also cultivate paddlefish, lumpfish, and even salmon, which produce excellent quality caviar. While the flavor of other fish roe isn’t the same as sturgeon caviar, the texture is almost identical.
If you’re looking to enjoy the delicacy without spending an arm and a leg, these are some excellent entry-level caviars that can be enjoyed by everybody.
All of these companies source their roe from sustainable farms or use wild-caught fish. The caviar is harvested in compliance with all U.S. wildlife regulations and sustainability ordinances.
The Best Paddlefish Caviar: Marky’s Paddlefish Caviar
Paddlefish are large freshwater fish that have been around since the prehistoric era. During the spawning season, they make their way to shallow waters in U.S. rivers where they are caught, and their roe is harvested.
Marky’s Caviar has some of the highest-quality paddlefish caviar in America. You may remember this company from above as being one of the only sellers of American beluga caviar. While Marky’s specializes in sturgeon varieties of caviar, they also provide a number of excellent alternative roes, and their paddlefish caviar is no exception.
Marky’s paddlefish caviar is an excellent “beginner’s caviar,” and it is known for its rich, earthy taste, followed by a moderate salty brine. The light grey and brown beads are medium and large-sized, featuring a very silky texture that allows the beads to slide across your tongue.
The Best Salmon Caviar: Paramount Caviar Salmon Roe
Salmon roe is easily identifiable with its bright pink and orange-colored beads. Paramount Caviar specializes in packaging some of the best wild-caught American salmon caviar and they sell it at a very affordable price.
Unlike sturgeon caviar, which typically has a mildly salty flavor, salmon roe is known for having a very salty, salmon flavor that’s best described as “ocean-like.” The beads are soft and juicy and can be eaten on their own. However, due to the saltier flavor, salmon roe is best served as a topping or an additive to a food that will complement the saltiness.
Just because caviar originated in Russia doesn’t mean that you have to travel all the way overseas to enjoy this delicacy! Thanks to a small handful of farm-to-table farms and fisheries that focus on sustainable population growth and species propagation, high-quality caviar can be found all over the United States.
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