What Color Is Caviar? Learn Common Fish Roe Colors

What Color Is Caviar?

You have likely heard of black caviar and red caviar. But you may not have heard of different types and the different ways that caviar can actually look. In fact, even black and red caviar don’t necessary fit those specific colors. It’s all about understanding the different types of fish roe that the caviar come from.

Generally you’ll find fish roe described using the following colors:

– Black
– Red
– Silver-Gray
– Amber
– Brown
– Gold
– Orange
– Yellow
– Green

We’re going to take a closer look at each of these colors and just what they mean. Keep in mind that caviar in the United States is considered any type of salt-cured fish roe, which is how we’re going to define it for the purposes of this section. This will allow us to evaluate different types and colors of caviar.

If you’re talking about true caviar, which is made with sturgeon, you’ll be looking at black caviar. While non-sturgeon caviar is typically red. We’ll start with these distinctions and move on from there.

Black Caviar

Roe that comes from sturgeon, such as beluga, osetra, or others within the Acipenseridae family, are typically considered black caviar. What you can find in this category, however, are caviar that range from black all the way to gray and even gold.

black caviar

This type of sturgeon will has small eggs that are almost jet black. It’s called the American Hackleback and it’s actually faster to mature than other sturgeon. It’s also relatively small, which is one of the main reasons that it’s less expensive than other varieties. Still, the color is very consistent all the time compared to other types of caviar.

There are some types of black caviar that are not actually sturgeon. For example, the bowfin produces a very dark colored egg, though you’ll generally notice a little bit of a red tint to it. You may also see a dark black or red roe from the cyclopterus lupus, which is also known as a lumpfish. While this fish doesn’t naturally have red or black eggs, they’re usually dyed this color. They’re also very small.

Red Caviar

Now, red caviar can come from several different types of fish, though the roe from Salmonidae is the one that’s most commonly associated with the color. Trout and whitefish can also have red caviar. It’s important to note that this is not technically caviar as it comes from a fish other than sturgeon, but it is considered caviar in the United States. Also, the color can be anything from orange to yellow to red.

Red caviar comes from a couple of different types of fish, but most commonly it comes from Salmonidae. You can also expect to receive red caviar from trout and whitefish. Technically, red caviar is not true caviar and instead just non-sturgeon fish roe. Similar to black caviar, the colors of red caviar range and will encompass other hues like orange or yellow.

Lumpfish can be considered a red caviar as well as it is frequently dyed red or black. That means it could be grouped with either of these first two categories of colors.

Silver / Gray Caviar

Next on the list is silver or gray caviar, which generally comes from a paddlefish, sevruga sturgeon or beluga. In fact, beluga is the most common type of silver or gray caviar. It can have an appearance that ranges from clear to milky, but what makes it truly unique is the eye within the egg, which is the actual egg that you would eat.

Amber Caviar

Next up is amber caviar, which can come from white sturgeon, kaluga, or osetra. It’s considered a type of black caviar, and is actually considered one of the best.

Osetra sturgeon produce the most amber caviar, though it can also come in several other colors. The lighter the caviar the better it is and the higher the cost. You’ll find this located in cold, spring water, and especially in Karat. This farm produces extremely high quality osetra caviar by paying excellent attention to the health and safety of their fish.

Brown caviar

You’ll find brown caviar is a relatively common one as well. It’s a little darker than the amber, though there are a lot of different tones that you could find. It can be considered gray as well and beluga caviar is often grouped into this category.

Gold Caviar

This is the best possible color you can find when it comes to sturgeon caviar. It’s very rare to find light colored eggs from sturgeon, which is why they’re more expensive and that they’re higher quality. You want to make sure that you’re getting a gold caviar that is actually capitalizing on the excellent color with excellent flavor as well.

Orange Caviar

Salmon roe is generally somewhere in the red, orange, and yellow category of colors. It’s actually quite common and less expensive than other types of caviar. Carp also has an orange color and generally it’s smoked rather than simply salt cured.

A rainbow trout will also typically produce orange caviar that’s larger than sturgeon but smaller than salmon. You won’t get a lot of the salt flavor, but you can get it at an affordable price. It’s one of the best for this purpose.

Yellow Caviar

Next are the yellow roe, which can actually come from an albino fish. These include Sterlet, which is a type of sturgeon that is considered more unique. This type of fish will typically produce a gray or brown egg, but albino versions of this or other fish may produce a milky yellow roe.

Whitefish also has a yellow, orange or even light gold colored roe. They produce tiny roe that have a very mild flavor. As a result, they’re typically used in a lot of different dishes.

Yet another fish that produces yellow row are arctic char and golden rainbow trout. The standard rainbow trout will produce orange roe, but a golden version, which is given astaxanthin-free feed, will have a lighter roe, which comes out more unique and a bright yellow color.

Green Caviar

You can find green caviar quite commonly with paddlefish or polyodont spathula. Paddlefish is a cousin of sturgeon, and can also be found in the category of gray caviar, as well. It’s a little more unique in the color palette, especially when it appears with green tones.

When it comes to sushi rolls you may have seen green dots in the fish. This is a type of tobiko fish roe, which is a wasabi flavored roe. The tobiko is actually dyed and then injected with different flavors to make it fit well with the sushi. It can also come in a range of different colors traditionally, including red, orange, black, or yellow, but it’s generally an inexpensive roe.

It’s also possible that the color of the caviar isn’t actually from the caviar at all. It could be from seaweed instead. This is common in the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as Japan. It has high levels of calcium, as well as potassium.

While not technically ‘green’ uncured fish eggs or roe are often referred to as ‘green eggs,’ which can also be confusing for some within the industry.

What color is the best caviar?

The color of the caviar doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the quality of it. In fact, there are a range of different colors for different types of caviar and even those within the specific quality of true caviar.

Sturgeon caviar is generally black to gold, with gold being the best that you can find. You want to make sure that you are getting a light colored caviar that has the lowest salt content and the best processing to be sure that you’re getting what you pay for in this regard.

Other than sturgeon caviar, you’ll find a lot of bright colors in the better versions, such as yellow, orange, and even red. Darker colors in a non-sturgeon caviar are generally not as expensive.

If you’re looking for a great quality caviar you’ll have a better chance of understanding what you’re getting now that you know more about the different colors available. And definitely about the different options and types of fish. So don’t be afraid to experiment.