To start their Italian Caviar farm, Calvisius received their first Pacific White Sturgeon (A. transmontanus) from UC Davis in 1983. Though native to America’s Pacific Northwest, the world’s largest population of Pacific White Sturgeon now resides at Calvisius farms in Northern Italy, which has grown to become the largest caviar farm of any kind in the world. They produce around 24 tons of caviar annually, which is about 15% of world production outside of the Caspian countries. The Caspian counties are thought to produce close to half of the world’s caviar, though it is difficult to know which is farmed and which is illegally poached from the wild. Characterized by a gray/black egg with an elegant long lasting briny flavor, Pacific White Sturgeon has a flavor many believe most closely resembles that of Beluga. This page is for Pacific White Sturgeon, however Italian Caviar could also refer to Oscietra or Sevruga also raised by Calvisius and available from Artisanal Foods.
Suggestions: Serve atop Blinis, chilled potatoes, eggs, or simply by itself using a celebratory mother of pearl spoon.
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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, mostly harvested from Pacific White Sturgeon and Atlantic Sturgeon with an average weight of 450lbs. Today’s total world consumption of caviar is approximately 360 tons. Sturgeon yield about 10% of their body weight when they are harvested; they are dispatched to harvest the caviar. About half of world’s 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 or 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.