Egg shell and yolk color may vary, but color has nothing to do with egg quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristics or shell thickness.
Shell: The color comes from pigments in the outer layer of the shell and may range in various breeds from white to deep brown. The breed of hen determines the color of the shell.
- Breeds with white feathers and ear lobes lay white eggs;
- breeds with red feathers and ear lobes lay brown eggs.
White: Egg albumen in raw eggs is opalescent and does not appear white until it is beaten or cooked. A yellow or greenish cast in raw white may indicate the presence of riboflavin. Cloudiness of the raw white is due to the presence of carbon dioxide which has not had time to escape through the shell and thus indicates a very fresh egg.
Yolk: color depends on the diet of the hen. If she gets plenty of yellow-orange plant pigments known as xanthophylls, they will be deposited in the yolk.
- Hens fed mashes containing yellow corn and alfalfa meal lay eggs with medium yellow yolks, while those eating wheat or barley yield lighter-colored yolks.
- A colorless diet, such as white cornmeal produces almost colorless yolks.
- Natural yellow-orange substances such as marigold petals may be added to light-colored feeds to enhance yolk color.
- Artificial color additives are not permitted. Gold or lemon-colored yolks are preferred by most buyers in this country.
- Yolk pigments are relatively stable and are not lost or changed in cooking.
Sometimes there is a greenish ring around hard-cooked egg yolks. It is the result of sulfur and iron compounds in the egg reacting at the surface of the yolk. It may occur when eggs are overcooked or when there is a high amount of iron in the cooking water. Although the color may be a bit unappealing, the eggs are still wholesome and nutritious and their flavor is unaffected. Greenish yolks can best be avoided by using the proper cooking time and temperature and by rapidly cooling the cooked eggs. Occasionally several concentric green rings may be seen in hard-cooked egg yolks. A yolk develops within the hen in rings. Iron in the henâ€™s feed or water as the rings are formed may cause this coloring. Sometimes a large batch of scrambled eggs may turn green. Although not pretty, the color change is harmless. It is due to a chemical change brought on by heat and occurs when eggs are cooked at too high a temperature, held for too long or both. Using stainless steel equipment and low cooking temperature, cooking in small batches and serving as soon as possible after cooking will help to prevent this. If it is necessary to hold scrambled eggs for a short time before serving, it helps to avoid direct heat. Place a pan of hot water between the pan of eggs and the heat source.