Eight of the World’s Most Expensive Ingredients

Published in Gourmet Live 04.11.12
There’s more to high-end edibles than lobster and foie gras: See what exorbitant ingredients Elizabeth Gunnison unearthed, and learn what’s behind the luxury pricing
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Most Expensive Seafood: Sturgeon Caviar

What: Sturgeon caviar is the salted eggs, or roe, of the massive sturgeon fish. The world’s most expensive caviar comes from the beluga species of sturgeon, but imports of this variety have been banned from the United States since 2005 in order to protect the endangered fish. Farmed osetra sturgeon caviar is currently the highest-end sustainable option on the U.S. market, prized for its firm, juicy eggs and nutty flavor. But beware: The term caviar is also used to refer to the salted roe from less desirable fish, including paddlefish, whitefish, trout, or lumpfish.

How Much: Osetra caviar retails for up to $12 per gram for the choicest grades, which translates into roughly $500 per serving.

Why Pay More: It takes the female osetra an average of 10 years to produce her first eggs, at which point she may weigh hundreds of pounds, which means that farming the roe is a long, expensive undertaking. And since the wild osetra sturgeon is endangered due to overfishing and pollution, buying and selling the wild version isn’t a viable alternative to the costly farming process.


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Elizabeth Gunnison is a freelance writer based in New York. She currently serves as the online food correspondent for Esquire.com and contributes to such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Esquire, and BonAppetit.com.

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