While chefs use the caviar to add glamour to a wide variety of dishes, for us the most glamorous is to eat the caviar from the tin, with a glass of Champagne.  Caviar must be refrigerated, but we love the idea of a gift bag full of tins.  Three expressions of Sturia caviar.  The special holiday edition (photos courtesy Sturia).
France is known for its haute cuisine and haute couture.
But in some circles, it’s also known for its caviar. Sturia combines the two: fine caviar in stylish packaging.
Sturia is the flagship brand of Sturgeon SCEA*, the leading French caviar producer. Established near Bordeaux 20 years ago, the company pioneered sturgeon farming in France. It sells its caviar all over the world.
Farmed caviar, you say?
THE RECENT HISTORY OF THE GREAT WILD STURGEON
For those who haven’t followed the tipping point of beluga caviar, here it is:
Overfishing, poaching, pollution, and damming of the rivers where the famed Baltic Sea and Caspian Sea sturgeon have bred for millions of years, drastically decreased the amount of caviar available, as world demand increased. Ninety percent of beluga sturgeons live in the Caspian Sea. In just 40 years, the beluga was at the brink of extinction.
The other two Caspian sturgeons, the osetra and the sevruga, were also on the Endangered Species List. The species dates back to the Triassic period, some 245 to 208 million years ago.
In January 2006, the countries that bordered these seas banded together to exclude exports (more).
As a result, more than 20 years ago, caviar farms were set up to raise sturgeon in river environments all over the world, from Europe to South America to Asia.
The result: osestra and white sturgeon caviar, sustainably produced. At 3,300 pounds, the beluga is too huge to farm. The white sturgeon, which can reach 1,799 pounds, and the 440-pound osetra sturgeon, are best for farming (see the different types of caviar).
Sturgeon farming is a long, painstaking process.
After obtaining fry (newly hatched sturgeon), farmers have to wait 3 years before they can determine their sex. The young females are then farmed in ponds diverted from rivers, for approximately 8 years until they reach maturity.
At that point, an 8-year-old female sturgeon weighs about ten kilos and yields approximately 10% of her weight in caviar.
The eggs are harvested and lightly salted using the Russian Malossol method, which adds a small amount of salt as a preservative.
The result: One of the most luxurious foods in the world.
BUYING STURIA CAVIAR
Depending on the level of sophistication of the recipient, Sturia guides you to which of their caviars you should consider.
What particularly tickles us about Sturia is the packaging, in tins screened with art that we would happily display after the caviar is gone. (Or, repurpose them to as packaging for jewelry and other small gifts.)
Caviar is a seasonal product. The sturgeon are fished (the eggs are harvested) between September and March.
Like any agricultural product, caviar from the same sturgeon will have different nuances depending on the environment where it was raised (terroir).
BRUSH UP ON CAVIAR
Glossary of Caviar Terms
Caviar Q & A