caviar or caviare (kăvˈēär) [key], the roe (eggs) of various species of sturgeon prepared as a piquant table delicacy. The ovaries of the fish are beaten to loosen the eggs, which are then freed from fat and membrane by being passed through a sieve. The liquid is pressed off, and the eggs are mildly salted and sealed in small tins or kegs. Fresh caviar (the unripe roe), made in winter from high-grade eggs, is scarce and consequently expensive, especially when imported. Less choice varieties are cured with 10% salt. The eggs, black, green, brown, and the rare yellow or gray, may be tiny grains or the size of peas. The best-known caviar comes the countries on the Black and Caspian seas and the rivers that flow into them, but declines in sturgeon species there and elsewhere has led to a suspension of the international trade in nearly all caviar from wild Caspian sturgeon several times since 2001. Good quality sturgeon caviar is also produced in France, South Korea, and elsewhere from farm-raised fish. In the United States caviar is made from the roe of white sturgeon. Similar products are produced from the roe of other fish, such as paddlefish, whitefish, salmon, flying fish, pike, and trout.
See I. Saffron, Caviar (2002).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.