Farmed or wild Caviar?

11th November 2010

The trade that began in 1675 when Caviar was still a local, but revered dish in Russia grew over the next 300 years to become the commerce of one of the most mysterious and sought after consumer products in the World, celebrated for its taste and ancestry. Remove its history and heritage, and it is just fish-eggs, at least for those who do not see the significance of history and the sometime powerful minds and visions of our predecessors! For the rest of us, this trade has been the constant reminder that the extraordinary triumphs over the mediocre. Farmed Caviar will play a significant role in the future trade of Caviar. One can only hope that mediocrity will not be the chosen avenue.

When talking about farmed caviar, one question that is constantly raised over and over again is; “Is it just as good as wild caviar?”

The correct answer is “sometimes yes, sometimes even better and sometimes worse!”

This notion or rather perception that what ever was developed in the wild or “just” by Mother-nature should be better than anything man-made is as ridiculous as it is stupid.

Farmed Caviar at its best

What too often happens is when man has suddenly perfected something that nature initiated he goes of and ruins it by compromising for the sake of better economy. This fact is unfortunately also true for the productions of farmed Caviar and “wild” Caviar.

Farming sturgeons or rather certain sturgeon species is not a very complicated thing to do. Farming sturgeons with the objective of processing fine caviar however is!

It’s overwhelming advantage however is that one is in total control of the well being of the fish and as such is ultimately influencing the end product, in this case the finally processed Caviar.

In the Caspian Sea, there is first of all little control if any and the chance of ending up with a premium product is quite small.

Surprisingly enough for most people it was however always like this!!

The major difference between now and before the collapse of the Soviet Union when the Caspian Sea was under the jurisdiction of only the USSR and Iran was that bad or low quality caviar was used for domestic markets and never exported to the west. Today, whenever possible to export, most of the caviar production from the Caspian Sea whether it is considered legal or not will seek the Western and Asian markets simply due to the fact that they pay better value.

The traditional separation of low and high quality caviar for foreign markets is no longer in use. The main reason for the global perception that the Caspian Sea Caviar’s quality has gone down.

Caspian Sea caviar at its best, the ultimate Iranian Oscietre

Farmed Caviar although its industry is still in its infancy is already witnessing compromises primarily due to the fact that its return on investment is rather long term. Many farmers are compelled to cut corners for the sake of financial survival that ultimately has a negative impact on the quality of their products.

The capture by hand of the great Ochietre sturgeon

In a perfect world caviar whether it originated in the Caspian Sea or on a farm should be perfect in every way. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world and the consumer should be very careful how and where they purchase the caviar.

The Internet has become a preferred market place for low quality caviar and the consumer should look out for the more reputable brands who would not risk their image on low quality farmed or wild caviar.


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