The United States has been a notable caviar producer for a long time, and in the early 20th century the United States and Canada were the two main exporters of caviar to the European market. Back then, most of the U.S. caviar came from Lake sturgeons in the Midwest and Shortnose sturgeons living in rivers that emptied themselves on the Atlantic side of the country. Today, roughly 75% of the U.S. caviar instead comes from California on the U.S. Pacific coast.
Below, we will take a look at three different types of caviar produced in the U.S.American Hackleback caviar
This type of caviar comes from the abovementioned Shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus), also known as Hackleback. It is a freshwater sturgeon native to the Missouri and Mississippi river systems. It is the smallest of the freshwater sturgeons native to the U.S. and it produces small eggs. American Hackleback caviar is renowned for its powerful flavour pallete.
This caviar comes from the species Acipenser transmontanus, hence the name. It´s common name is White sturgeon, so the caviar is also sold as White sturgeon caviar. The colour of the roe varies from light to dark brown. The eggs are big, but not as big as Beluga eggs.
A. transmontanus is native to the Pacific side of North America, from the Gulf of Alaska to Monterrey, California. There are also a few landlocked populations, including once in California´s Lake Shasta.
The U.S. transmontanus caviar come from fish kept in pens, and a majority of those farms are located in California. Catching wild A. transmontanus is no longer legal in the U.S.
American Paddlefish caviar
The paddlefish species belong to the same order as the sturgeon species, i.e. Acipenseriformes. In the United States, the paddlefish Polydon spathula is raised for its roe. The eggs are medium-sized and vary in colour from dark to light grey, and the caviar has a silky and smooth texture. The flavour is surprisingly assertive. It has a certain earthiness, but in combination with buttery tones. If you feel in the mood to try something else than sturgeon caviar, give this paddlefish caviar a shot.