The Caspian Sea is famed for the sturgeons found in its waters. 27 species and subspecies of the world's most precious fish are now known but solely three of these species provide the highly prized CAVIAR.




Paradoxically, the best Caviar is Iranian, even though it was the Russia of the Czars that revealed this delicacy to the world. The intrinsic differences between the two types of caviar are dependent upon the type of food, the fishing procedure, the stages involved in removing, cleaning and salting the eggs.


Two Annual Fishing Periods:


In the Spring and Autumn. The one in the Spring time is the most coveted and the most anticipated. The experts attribute the subtle difference in quality to the fish having more tonic properties when it crosses the cold winter waters before spawning. Its eggs are larger and softer and its texture is less greasy than in the autumn.




Very fond of anchovies, the sturgeon is a rather indolent fish that tends to lounge about on the bottom of the sea, where food is easy to obtain. Geographically speaking, Iran's territorial waters enjoy 900-metre deep oceanic waters that are conducive to healthy, pollution-free food, whereas the Russian seas are no more than 10 meters deep.



The sturgeon behaves in a similar way to the salmon, as it, too, travels back up river to spawn. However, this is also a stressful period for the sturgeon, particularly as its organism secretes enzymes during this time that could affect the taste. This is why Iranian fishing operators prefer to catch the fish out at sea, whereas in Russia the fish are caught later and the fishing operations are mainly focused on the Volga, which, unfortunately, is heavily polluted.


Removing the eggs:

The fishing periods and methods vary from one location to another, as do the times for removing the eggs. This is done straightaway in the tiny Iranian boats, whereas the almost industrial-scale fishing operations in Russia mean the sturgeons are emptied only when the fishing operators reach the ports. As a sturgeon can live only three hours out of the water, the eggs should ideally be removed before this deadline is reached...



Once they have been removed the eggs have to be cleaned and the placenta carefully eliminated. This meticulous cleaning task has to be completed with fresh water whose bacteriological quality is guaranteed not to contaminate the product.



One of the trickiest operations, because it involves skill in carefully measuring the right amount of salt and boric acid (a ratio of 4:1000 in theory but 3.6-3.7:1000 according to the analyses carried out in Belgium). However, borax is expensive and the Russian dosing system continues to be unpredictable.

All these factors taken together obviously make a key impact on the quality of the product and its gustatory properties.

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