With farming operations in Idaho and California, Tsar Nicoulai produces American Caviar from white sturgeon, which are native to the Pacific Northwest. While the sturgeon most closely genetically related to Baluga (Huso huso) is Kaluga (Huso daricus) many caviar connoisseurs believe white sturgeon tastes most similar to Baluga. Making caviar from wild sturgeon has been illegal since 2005 when a world-wide ban by CITIES prohibited trade in wild sturgeon because they are endangered. Since then nearly 120 sustainable sturgeon farms around the world have emerged with atmospheres similar to wineries.
Serve atop blinis, chilled potatoes, eggs, or simply by itself using a celebratory mother of pearl spoon.
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More about sturgeon and caviar:
There are 27 species of sturgeon each native to a different location around the world, but all in the Northern hemisphere. There are now farms in the Southern hemisphere, but oddly no sturgeon is native in this region. In 1900 the USA was the world’s largest producer of caviar, exporting 600 tons of American caviar around the world, mostly harvested from Pacific White Sturgeon and Atlantic Sturgeon with an average weight of 450lbs. Today total world consumption of caviar is approximately 360 tons. Sturgeon yield about 10% of their body weight when they are harvested. The are dispatched to harvest the caviar. About half of world production is from the Siberian sturgeon, Acipenser baerii. This species is used because they can be sexed in about 1 year whereas other species can take 5-6 years before the farm knows if the fish is male of female. Male fish are then used for meat while female fish are raised to maturity. Siberian sturgeon can be harvested in 7-9 years, whereas Oscietra (A. gueldenstaedtii) and white sturgeon (A. transmontanus) take approximately 12 years and Beluga (Huso huso) and Kaluga (Huso dauricus) can take even longer. Notice that most of the sturgeon mentioned are Acipensers, 25 to be exact are vegetarians. Beluga and Kaluga are the only Huso sturgeon because they will eat little fish, worms, and clams. For this reason they are the largest sturgeon.