Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned caviar enthusiast, you might be wondering what is the difference between caviar and roe. Technically all fish eggs are “roe”, and not all “roe” is “caviar”. In this article we will explore the unique qualities and characteristics of what is the difference between roe and caviar. Let’s dive in!
What is caviar?
Caviar is lightly salted fish eggs exclusively harvested from a fish in the sturgeon family. The most popular and famous sturgeon that produce the highest quality caviar are the beluga sturgeon, kaluga sturgeon, Siberian sturgeon, White Sturgeon, Hackleback Sturgeon, Osetra, and Albino Starlet.
What is roe?
Fish eggs from any fish or marine animal except a sturgeon are called roe. Squid, snails, lobsters, scallops, shrimps, all produce roe. The most popular types of roe are eggs from Salmon, Paddlefish and Trout. Simply put, "roe" is a reference to all unfertilized eggs collected from marine animals.
What do caviar and roe have in common?
The major commonality between roe and caviar is they are both fish eggs, but caviar is a specific kind of egg that has been lightly salted and exclusively comes from a sturgeon. Prior to consumption both roe and caviar are cured using the malossol salting process. Raw unsalted roe is called “green eggs” in the caviar business.
The common misconception between roe and caviar
Unless you are a caviar purest there is technically not a big difference between roe and caviar in terms of linguistics. In most countries around the world the word “caviar” is used to describe any kind of “roe” even though it is not technically correct.
Why is caviar more expensive than roe?
Sturgeon caviar is one of the most delicious and exclusive delicacies in the world. Sturgeon eggs are notoriously difficult and expensive to harvest, it can take up to 20 years for a sturgeon to reach maturity and produce high quality caviar. Sturgeon eggs are more expensive, delicious and prestigious than eggs from any other fish. The unique mouthwatering taste of caviar is far superior to the taste of roe from any other fish.
What is the price difference between roe and caviar?
It is a well known fact that sturgeon caviar is the most expensive fish egg in the world that retails for $700-$1,200 per pound at Skazka Caviar. On the other hand, roe is significantly less expensive than caviar costing only several hundred dollars per pound. Salmon and trout roe are particularly inexpensive in comparison to sturgeon caviar.
Roe is a general word for all unfertilized eggs collected from marine animals. In contrast, caviar is a particular kind of roe that comes exclusively from the sturgeon family of fish. Both caviar and roe are cured with the malossol salting technique. Sturgeon caviar is a costly delicacy because high quality caviar is difficult and expensive to harvest.
About the Author
Igor Fishbeyn is purveyor of fine sturgeon caviar and creator of the Skazka Caviar brand. He is an expert with decades of experience specializing in importing, wholesaling, and retailing the finest quality caviar in the world. Igor frequently writes about caviar news and various topics about the caviar industry. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.
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