About Beluga Caviar
Beluga caviar is by far the most highly prized and expensive of all the caviar varieties. Originating in the Caspian Sea, the beluga sturgeon (Huso Huso) lays the largest and softest roe of any sturgeon. These glorious shining eggs, ranging in color from light gray to black, are considered a luxury commodity, with a price often somewhere between $5000 and $10,000 per kilogram. Caviar connoisseurs consider eating beluga caviar one of life’s greatest pleasures, raving about its impossibly smooth texture and life-enriching taste.
Okay, so it’s delicious. But lots of things are delicious. So why has beluga caviar specifically become such a prized and expensive food? The answer lies in the fish itself. The beluga sturgeon is huge, in rare cases even weighing more than 2000lbs and growing over 20 feet in length! It can also live for over 100 years. Consequently, the female beluga sturgeon has a very long maturation cycle, taking around 25 years before she’s ready to lay eggs. This means that a caviar farmer has to invest huge amounts of time, money and resources feeding and raising a beluga sturgeon before recouping his or her investment. This, combined with the beluga caviar’s bountiful size and unbeatable flavor, make it the food to end all foods.
Beluga caviar availability has always depended on several factors, ranging from political regulation to climate change to habitat loss, but in recent years its status has become especially delicate. In 2004, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced the beluga sturgeon as a threatened species. Even after this, wild beluga populations continued to decline dramatically, and in 2005, the United States banned the sale and import of this highly prized fish and its eggs.
So, as it stands, beluga caviar is illegal in the US through legitimate retailers. Nevertheless, some merchants continue to sell it through black market operations. If you are looking to buy beluga caviar, be sure that it’s done so within the parameters of the laws in your local area. Of course, there are plenty of alternatives to beluga caviar, many available right here at Gourmet Food Store.
The Best Substitutes For Beluga?
No two caviars are precisely alike, but we can often find close approximations when our favorite caviar isn’t available. When it comes to substitutes for beluga caviar, we have several recommendations:
Beluga Hybrid Caviar – Malossol Farm Raised: Beluga Hybrid Caviar is yielded from a unique crossbreed of Beluga (Huso huso) and Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii).
Kaluga Fusion Sturgeon Caviar – Malossol Farm Raised: The Kaluga sturgeon is among the largest freshwater fish in the world. Found primarily in the Amur River of the Russian Far East, its eggs are close in mouth-wateringly smooth texture and mild, buttery taste to beluga caviar, making this an excellent (and comparatively very affordable) substitute. Please note: this is a "fusion" caviar resulting from a crossbreeding of Kaluga and Amur sturgeons.
Special Reserve Russian Osetra Caviar – Malossol Farm Raised: Osetra Caviar is almost as highly prized as beluga caviar, which makes this special reserve Osetra among the best caviar you can find online. Farmed under immaculate and sustainable conditions in top-of-the-line aquafarms in Israel, this authentic osetra produces large, golden, gem-like eggs that are bursting with superb, buttery flavor. As exquisite as they come!