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The 5 best caviars we tried, including a vegan option that tastes shockingly similar to the real deal

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

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A pile of caviar on a cracker next to two shots of Vodka.

There's no better way to lavish everyone around you with love than a jar of eggs from a prehistoric leviathan that spends its life sifting through cold, dark, murky waters for snacks. Okay, maybe that doesn't sound so appetizing, but if Poseidon ever came up with a more delectable ambrosia, he selfishly chose not to bless the rest of the world with its splendor.

Sterlet and Beluga, the crème de la crème de la mer, are no longer available in the United States due to an alarming decline of those particular sturgeon, but Osetra, Sevruga, Paddlefish (note that this is not sturgeon, but a similarly prehistoric species), and others are much more affordable and widely available alternatives.

Just don't forget the blinis, the creme fraiche, and, of course, the Champagne

Here is the best caviar in 2022:

Best (American-raised) Osetra caviar: Marshallberg Farms, $48 available on Marshallberg Farms
Marshallberg Farms' caviar is among the only Osetra Russian sturgeon caviars produced in the United States, it's meticulously processed, and each tin is sourced from a single fish, so you'll get some of the cleanest and most consistent roe around.

Best Kaluga caviar: Olma, $109 availalbe on Amazon
Olma's Kaluga caviar is as close as you'll get to Beluga caviar with its firm, juicy, creamy taste.

Best Californian white sturgeon caviar: Roe Caviar Gift Set, $130 available on Roe
Some of the closest stuff to Osetra and Kaluga is farm-raised California white sturgeon caviar. We've tasted a handful of them, but our far-and-away favorite is Roe's.

Best Paddlefish caviar: Marky's Wild-Caught Paddlefish Caviar, $69.95 available on Walmart
Marky's Paddlefish Caviar is a fraction of the cost of Osetra caviar, but it's the cleanest and most delicious paddlefish caviar you can buy.

Best vegan caviar: Cavi-art Vegan Caviar, $9.95 available on Amazon
If you want the texture and flavor of caviar without shelling out top dollar or increasing your ecological footprint, Cavi-art is unbelievably reminiscent — and affordable.

Best (American-raised) Osetra caviar
A black and gold tin of Marshallburg Farms traditional Osetra caviar with the lid slightly ajar, the best caviar 2022

Marshallberg Farms' caviar is among the only Osetra Russian sturgeon caviars produced in the United States, it's meticulously processed, and each tin is sourced from a single fish, so you'll get some of the cleanest and most consistent roe around.

Pros:
Single source, consistent texture, flavorful 

Cons: Lacks the salty bite of other caviars (though that may be a pro, depending on personal preference)

Osetra is a medium-grain caviar often associated with a clean but nutty taste. It's usually not as salty as other caviar, though that depends on the brine and how long the eggs sit in it.

Marshallberg Farms is based in North Carolina, and the company guarantees that it does not mix roe from different fish to compose your tin of caviar. This might sound snooty, but the flavor and consistency of a given caviar will get a little lost if it's sourced from multiple fish, and blending roe is never preferred.

Best Kaluga caviar
An Olma caviar spread surrounded by lemon slices and raspberries with two blue tins of caviar in the background, the best caviar you can buy in 2022

Olma's Kaluga caviar is as close as you'll get to Beluga caviar with its firm, juicy, creamy taste.

Pros:
Firm texture, intense flavor, comparable to Beluga caviar

Cons: Pricey

Kaluga, or river caviar, is as close as we can get to the illustrious Beluga, the king of caviar, but also the most endangered sturgeon.

The United States has had a ban in place on the import of Beluga caviar in an attempt to stem overharvesting. Kaluga, however, still comes pretty darn close.

Olma has been serving up caviar in New York City since 2001, and offers a direct line on the best of the best. You can even buy it on Amazon and get fast shipping straight to your door.

Best Californian white sturgeon caviar
A tin of Roe Caviar with a tiny spoon in it on a wood surface.

Some of the closest stuff to Osetra and Kaluga is farm-raised California white sturgeon caviar. We've tasted a handful of them, but our far-and-away favorite is Roe's.

Pros: Extremely flavorful, briny, clean finish, some snap

Cons: Not uniformly firm in texture

Aside from the Sevruga and Beluga of yore (beware of anything listed as such, as imports have long been banned), most of the caviar you'll find today is sadly underwhelming. You'll get the creamy nuttiness, but not the texture or rush of flavor.

There's no avoiding the steeper price of white sturgeon roe compared to other options on our list, but if you want a rollercoaster ride for your palate, this is hard to beat without hitting the black market, which we don't endorse.

Raised in northern California and cured in salt for a month, this is single-origin roe, so there's no mixing (a ubiquitous problem in the caviar world), and thus no dilution of flavor.

There's pricier, more texture-forward caviar to be found, but this is a crowdpleaser that can be enjoyed a little more liberally, and Roe's offers a unique, flavorful thrill.

Best Paddlefish caviar
A dollop of Marky's paddlefish roe on a caviar spoon in front of a blue and gold caviar tin lid, the best paddlefish caviar in 2022

Marky's Paddlefish Caviar is a fraction of the cost of Osetra caviar, but it's the cleanest and most delicious paddlefish caviar you can buy.

Pros:
Affordable, clean-tasting for paddlefish

Cons: Slightly muddy flavor

Caviar comes in all grades, but we don't really find the bottom of the barrel to be worth buying, especially when tobiko, salmon, and trout are all good alternatives.

Marky's wild-caught Paddlefish Caviar isn't cheap by any means, but it is the least expensive choice in our guide and it's also the cleanest paddlefish caviar we've tried.

Paddlefish is an American sturgeon that is associated with a slightly muddy taste that puts many aficionados off. It's faintly there, but with a bit of creme fraiche, a blini, and a glass of dry champagne, we'd be fooled.

Best vegan caviar
The Cavi-art Black Seaweed vegan caviar.

Cavi-art Black Seaweed Vegan Caviar

Cavi-art Orange Seaweed Vegan Caviar

If you want the texture and flavor of caviar without shelling out top dollar or increasing your ecological footprint, Cavi-art is unbelievably reminiscent — and affordable.

Pros: Good approximation of caviar texture, great mixed into dishes

Cons: Doesn't taste exactly like caviar (but nothing will)

If you want the texture and flavor of caviar without shelling out top dollar or increasing your ecological footprint, Cavi-art is unbelievably reminiscent — and affordable.

There are a few takes on vegan caviar out there, and they're generally made from kelp or sea grape (caulerpa lentillifera), both of which offer the brininess and desirable snap found in the real deal.

Frankly, and with full disclosure that I am an omnivore, I'd choose sea grapes over most legitimate caviar on the market today. Unfortunately, sea grapes are best fresh, and they're notoriously difficult to procure in their optimal state unless you have a very kind friend somewhere in the South Pacific. (You can find them dehydrated on Amazon, but they're just not the same.)

Instead, I'm plenty happy with Cavi-art as a kelp-based alternative, especially when it's mixed into dishes that call for a dollop or two of caviar. I won't go so far as to suggest that it imparts the same richness of sturgeon roe, but combined with pasta or set atop an oyster doused in vinegar, it's debatable whether many of us could dissect the subtleties.

Again, you get the snap that only four-figure offerings seem to deliver, which is a big reason many of us enjoy caviar in the first place.

While Cavi-art's kelp-based caviar may lack the fishiness of true caviar, it more than fits the bill — and cuts it exponentially.

Caviar FAQs
A bunch of different caviars in different tins arranged in a circle.

What is caviar?

Caviar is salt-cured eggs, or roe, from the sturgeon, or more scientifically, the Acipenseridae family of fish.


Is caviar eaten raw?

Caviar is salt-cured, but still raw fish. It can be pasturized or unpasturized, though many aficionados argue that pasturization comes at the expense of flavor.


How much is a serving of caviar?

30 grams (a little more than an ounce) is standard per person, but if you're serving it as a garnish, 15 grams (or about half an ounce) is safe for hors d'oeuvres.


How long does caviar last?

Unopened, pasturized caviar can last anywhere from three to six weeks, while unpasturized caviar is best consumed within two weeks.

Read the original article on Insider








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