Caviar Glossary

Anadromous — [uh-nad-ruh-muhs]

Refers to a fish which swims primarily in salt water but returns to fresh waters sources to breed. Sturgeon, like salmon, will swim hundreds of miles if unimpeded to lay their eggs.


The Russian city located roughly 100 miles up the Volga river is where the first modern caviar industry was founded.


a means of farm raising fish in a controlled environment. Aquaculture can either be open where in fish are raised in cages or netted areas that are part of a larger body of water or closed where they are raised in tanks that are entirely separate from any natural water source.


The largest and most revered grade of caviar. There is only one species that provides beluga caviar, that being the Huso Huso. These enormous fish can grow up to 25 feet long and weigh as much as 2500 pounds. Currently an endangered species, caviar from the beluga sturgeon is heavily regulated and is seldom exported.


A thin pancake made traditionally in Russia with a yeasted batter made with wheat flour and used to serve caviar.

Caspian Sea

A body of water in Asia surrounded by Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Azerbaijan. Because of its ideal breeding grounds, this body of water has contained the largest natural population of sturgeon and is historically significant as the birthplace of caviar.

Crème fraîche

French for “fresh cream” is the European version of U.S. sour cream. It is a heavy cream slightly soured with bacterial culture, but not as sour or as thick as sour cream. Unlike sour cream, crème fraîche can be whisked to form whipped cream. and can be cooked without curdling because of its higher fat content.


Russian word which translates to mean “little salt”. Traditionally caviar was difficult to preserve and more salt was needed as the caviar traveled or aged. Thus malossol caviar was lauded as being that of the freshest and highest quality.

Mother of Pearl

A traditional substance used to make caviar accessories among many other things. Also known as Nacre, a strong, resilient and iridescent layer on the inside of a mollusk shell. Chief sources are the pearl oyster, found primarily in Asia; freshwater pearl mussels, found in rivers of the United States, Europe, and Asia; and the abalone of California, Japan, and other Pacific regions.


A product is organic if it and the environment it is produced in is certified to be free of harmful chemicals and without the aid of artificial growth hormones.


Currently there are only three species of sturgeon that are confirmed by CiTES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to be specifically Osetra caviar, that being Acipenser Gueldenstaedtii (Russian Osetra), Acipenser Persicus (Iranian Osetra) and Acipenser Baerii (Siberian Osetra).


A slight and mobile fish, the Acipenser Stellatus provides steel gray, small bead caviar similar to American Paddlefish.


The common name used for some 26 species of fish in the Acipenser family in which several species are harvested for their roe and made into caviar.


A movement to produce goods that are “beyond organic” in that they embrace local production and enrich rather than deplete the environment and workers.