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Eggs with really, really golden yolks

  • j

I've been watching a lot of cooking shows recently. Where can I find eggs with a really golden yolk, almost orange? Like the eggs Nigella Lawson and Jaime Oliver use? Are they a special breed only available in the UK?

I've tried supermarket eggs, Trader Joes Organic eggs, Omega3 eggs only to be disappointed with the light yellow yolks. Am I out of luck? I'm in the LA area if any has any suggestions.


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  1. If you know of a dairy farmer near you, or a farmer's market where you know the farmer has just pulled the eggs from the henhouse , try that. I've found the fresher the egg, the deeper the yellow of the yolk. Don't know if this holds true as fact, but it seems that way to me!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Linda W.

      The eggs I get from my uncle - a farmer - have the "Nigella" yolks. It may have something to do with the type of food the chickens consume (his scratch around his yard) or the breed of chicken. I've also bought similar eggs from a farmer at a local farmer's market, so there has to be a reason of some sort.

    2. It's all about what the chicken is fed...certain feeds make yolks orangish. In Britian, they feed the chickens something different, probably with more corn, since it is viewed more as animal food than people food over there.

      I am lucky, I live in an area lousy with chicken farms so I can get them any time. In LA, maybe the farmer's market...but you won't find them at a dairy farm...unless you want those great big cow eggs :-) Sorry, couldn't resist :-)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cyndy

        "...you won't find them at a dairy farm...unless you want those great big cow eggs :-) Sorry, couldn't resist :-) "

        LOL! I have NO idea what possessed me to say "dairy farm." :-/

        1. re: Linda W.

          *lol* Well, one would assume that any farmer worth his salt would throw a few chickens in a barn for the family, right :-) Gave me a good giggle - it's a very slow day here in tech support land.

        2. re: Cyndy

          It's about the feed but not about eating orange food. It's about being fed a good nutritious diet.

        3. In New England, we get Country Hen eggs, which have richly orange yolks. (I don't the term golden because a lot of people think that simply means yellow rather than a rich saffron color.)

          Link: http://countryhen.com/index.php

          1. Interesting... I was just admiring the hard-boiled eggs we made today (we live in Spain). The color of the yolks is so beautiful. You notice it when baking, too. I'm not sure which of the many differing factors causes the difference in color:

            --eggs aren't refrigerated
            --they are fresher
            --they tend to be smaller
            --farms are much smaller
            --the eggs aren't sanitized extensively before sale
            --they are fed better food

            1. According to the PBS show: California's Gold (Hugh Howser), Marigolds are used to color chicken egg yolks.

              In the episode I am referring to: Hugh Howser found a large field of marigolds and wanted to know why the marigolds were being grown.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Alan408

                I know they feed them marigolds (especially at Tyson) to make the chicken's skin yellow, don't know about the eggs though.

              2. I think it's really a matter of freshness, although it may be feed. I get mine at the farmers' market. Eggs have a very long shelf life, and stores aren't going to waste much of that on their customers. The eggs in a store have been sitting around, or travelling, for weeks before you see them. Fresh eggs' yolks are much firmer -- over-easy eggs get a lot easier -- and the color is much deeper, as well as the flavor. These are free-range chickens that eat bugs, supplemented with feed, so perhaps that makes a difference too.

                1. Excuse my enthusiasm, but Land O'Lakes eggs are that good. While I'm all for fresh, still-warm eggs when I can get them, Land O'Lakes' are, amazingly, just as good: they have thick, glossy, and deep orange yolks, and the taste is every bit as rich as the color. Try them and you won't want to buy anything else. They're the best eggs I've ever had, including those from the farmer's market.

                  I hope you find them easily. Enjoy!

                  1. The difference is diet. Commercial chickens, in the US and the UK, are fed mostly corn and soy along with fortifiers and, in some cases, god knows what (a nice way of saying "ground up male chicks"). But mostly they get grain. The US feeds a vast amount of corn and soy to its livestock. That's why these two crops are so heavily subsidized by the government.

                    On the other side of the coin, small-flock/free-range hens, and homegrown hens in particular, get a variety of feed in addition to their grain: bugs, weeds, rotted leaves, and minerally soil bits. Some hens also eat their owners' kitchen scraps, which keeps the girls happy and adds to the richness of their diet.

                    I would say the best way to get fresh eggs with deep orange yolks is...grow your own! Or find someone you know who does (or meet someone who does), and set up a tiny CSA by pitching them some dough to increase the size of their henhouse in return for a seasonal supply of the best eggs you have ever tasted.

                    Keeping chickens is not hard at all if you have any kind of yard. We have a very small backyard and we have kept 5 hens in a 6'x3' enclosure with very little effort or difficulty, and lots of pleasure. The biggest effort/expense is at the start: building or obtaining an appropriate enclosure, and raising chicks. Once you get them started they demand about 10 minutes per day of care, plus occasional tidying up and so on.

                    Take a look at my blog (link below) for more information, and check out the links there for lots of resources. Raising chickens has been one of the most culinarily rewarding things we've ever done. They give us eggs, eat our weeds, and turn all our kitchen scraps into high-powered fertilizer.

                    The biggest problem we've run into is that when they stopped laying over the winter, we found we simply could not go back to storebought eggs--every type we tried was pale, yellow, and watery. We never did try the $6/dozen freerange eggs from Marin County; maybe those are the ticket, but I'd rather grow my own.

                    I'm happy to answer questions on this subject; email me off-board if you want. The more chickens in peoples' backyards, the better off we will all be, and I will do what I can to help.



                    Link: http://www.pdbd.com/henwaller

                    Image: http://www.pdbd.com/henwaller/images/...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: patrick

                      All my good eggs have come from free-range folks - either commercially or friends with whom I swap a loaf of banana bread for a dozen every now and then.

                      They aren't just yellower. The white is much stronger, so the yolk stands up higher and the whites beat up into a stronger foam.

                      1. re: snackish

                        and they poach like a dream.

                    2. It's about the feed. My grandma used to visit from abroad and complain about the eggs in this country and said it was because they weren't fed lots of good veg and grain. Also, I saw on Martha Stewart, Martha discussing eggs with Madaline Kamman and saying the same thing when comparing her eggs with supermarket ones.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chick

                        By the way there is an interview on the saute wednesday site with Jacques Pepin and he says the stressed chickens in the unbearably loud industrial chicken farms actually produce higher cholesterol eggs. And just want to stress again, yellow egg yolks aren't about chickens eating yellow food. It's about good nutrition and freshness. I just remembered Elizabeth David praising the colour of the brioche she bought in the french countryside with their good fresh fresh eggs.

                      2. Interesting... apparently Bologna (where I'm currently studying) is known for its particularly splendid eggs. In Italian, they call yolks the 'red' of the egg, rather than the 'yellow' of the egg, so I suspect that Italian eggs on the whole have darker yolks. I haven't seen a red yolk yet, but they're definitely more orangey. It makes all my home-made custard a bit yellowy-orange, rather than creamy yellow, which takes getting used to.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kate

                          So true. Did a cooking class in Bologna, we made tagliatelle. The eggs are so yellow. The only place I found them was upstate NY. While visiting a friend, she took me to a local farmer who was selling fresh eggs. It was the best pasta I ever made with those eggs.

                        2. It's not really about freshness or about grain - it's about greens. Chickens that have access to greens (even just grass) will lay beautiful orangey yellow yolked-eggs. We keep chickens and although the eggs taste fine during the winter, they are outstandingly delicious during spring and summer when they can eat grass and weeds. And it's funny too - you tell who's eating grass and who's not by the colour of their egg yolks. I think it's the chlorophyll but I could be wrong about that.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Nyleve
                            Eldon Kreider

                            Carotenoids in greens are important, too. Chlorophyll masks golden and orange carotenoids.

                            Alfalfa leaf meal content in the feed can make a big difference. One old trick in the winter is to put bunches of good, green (not weathered) alfalfa hay in the hen house for the hens to eat. Kale can take a lot of cold and is very effective in coloring egg yolks. These aren't practices for industrial egg farms but could explain yolk color in eggs at farmers markets and are easy options for backyard flocks. Kale and alfalfa leaves are good sources of several nutrients beyond their vitamin A precursor.

                          2. I have read all of the explanations below, and am still perplexed, because I have never had a pasty looking egg in Europe, and have never found the same deep saffron eggs in North America.
                            It is similar to some of the specialty lettuce.
                            In Europe they have a great "tang", and here they are usually downright bitter, even if they are "trendy".
                            I do find, that the organic lettuce is better, but not quite the same as in Europe.
                            I could go on and on, butter, yogurt, etc.
                            Different soils?
                            I still don't understand.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: erly

                              I lack the strength to read all of the thread so this may not be new.

                              One reason may be the relative use of feed additives. As of a few years ago, when looking round a farm where a mate was manager, I noted sacks of additive that made yolks more yellow. It may be that such stuff is illegal in the US.

                              1. re: alex james

                                I think you hit the nail on the head, alex james. It's all a marketing ploy. Pale yolks are not necessarily bad yolks. Has anyone ever done a taste test?

                                But if the consumer *thinks* darker yolks are better, then egg producers are going to make sure the consumer gets darker yolks!

                              2. re: erly

                                I repeat my earlier comment. It's the chickens' diet. When they have access to fresh green grass and bugs and weeds and all that stuff their eggs will be almost scarily yellow-orange and the flavour will be so totally different as to be almost not the same thing as a regular supermarket egg. We sell our surplus eggs to friends who, until they get used to them, are usually unnerved by the colour.

                                I can't say what the difference is with plants but when you take into consideration differences in soil, temperature, water, sunlight, stress, etc., etc., you'll have the same plant with varying flavours depending on what it's been through. When I grow lettuces or greens, I find that fast growth with lots of water creates a completely different taste and texture than slower, dryer conditions. Lettuces like cool temperatures and plenty of moisture. You grow the same thing in dry heat, and it's much different. Artificial fertilizers, irrigation and other interference with the natural growth pattern will increase production at the expense of flavour.

                                1. re: erly

                                  i think the responses from europe are interesting. In the US industrial farming has been taken to an insane level. I'll hold off from my petroleum-fueled-food rant, but you can probably guess what it consists of. Anyway, in Europe, though I am sure they use antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, etc, it's basically not physically possible to take industrial farming to the level that it is taken to here. So everything in Europe, even the mega-farmed stuff, is fresher, less travelled, and grown in less of a monoculture. (if at all...again, this is largely conjecture, but...you know.)

                                  There's also the issue of distance. Distances are just shorter in the EU. The distance a farmer travels from Hollister CA to a San Francisco farmer's market, bearing what we Yanks call "locally grown" food, is a distance that would exceed many Europeans' definition of "local" or even "regional."

                                  Furthermore, something like 30% of the produce in the US is grown in the Central Valley of California (that may be an exaggeration, but not by much). Meaning that much of it travels distances that would just plain put it in another country if it were in Europe. (Some of it even _goes_ to Europe!) Another upshot of this is, as another poster noted, that much of the food we eat is grown in very dry, hot (Central Valley) conditions, which may not be the ideal climate for the food. Like lettuce, etc. I read somewhere that the reason that brussels sprouts almost never taste as good in the US as they do in, say, Brussels, is because brussels sprouts need a solid freeze to develop their flavor, and they just don't get it in...California.

                                  Short version: It's California's fault.

                                  The one solution, at least for things like eggs and lettuce, is to grow your own. Lettuce cut from the backyard is almost as superior to its trucked-in component as warm homegrown eggs are to theirs. And lettuce and greens, unlike chickens, can be grown indoors, easily.

                                  Whew! Sorry, didn't expect this to turn into such a rant.

                                  Link: http://www.pdbd.com/henwaller

                                  Image: http://www.pdbd.com/henwaller/images/...

                                2. make a few trips to farmers markets around your area...look for eggs that are pasture raised or free-range from someone who specifically raises eggs, and ask around to other farmers about who might have some eggs from chickens that are part of their farms but not their mainstay
                                  I have generally found that heirloom breed chickens, like the green-blue shelled Aracuna eggs have deeper yolks

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: agrodolce

                                    I agree, pastured eggs are superior as is pasture raised meat chickens, beef, pork etc. The problem for most folks is those products are not readily available in the U.S. I have had the best luck seeking out small producers, sometimes "backyard farmers" who have 5 to 10 acres and are raising animals, eggs, etc. for their own consumption. One guy raises one steer at a time, feeds it a little organic grains,(no corn!) to keep it not to fear humans and chelated minerals, but they are mostly foraging on their own. We then split all the costs and I add 25% to my share for his raising it. We do the same with pigs although a small pig dresses out to about 80 lbs. so I can freeze it all.
                                    Overall, it is much more expensive and time consuming to buy animals raised and humanely cared for than buying factory farm meat, eggs, etc. but the taste and quality of naturally raised meat with out being pumped up with antibiotics for growth, etc., is far superior. One has to be constantly investigating new sources as many hobby farmers tire of all the work and thus you loose your supplier!

                                  2. The eggs we saw in Italy were the same way--dark orange, almost red sometimes. Somebody told me it was because the Italians put marigold flowers in the feed, but I am skeptical. Most of the chickens I saw in Italy weren't getting any feed, I suspect--just fending for themselves.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: gfr1111

                                      "Marigold (Tagetes erecta L., Asteraceae) is not only grown as an ornamental, cut flower, and landscape plant, but also as a source of pigment for poultry feed. The pigment is added to intensify the yellow color of egg yolks and broiler skin. It is composed of esters of xanthophyll (lutein). Finely ground blossom meal, often enriched with an extract, or the extract itself, usually saponified for better absorption, is added to the feed. Marigolds are grown for this purpose in various locations in the western hemisphere, primarily in Mexico and Peru, by and for various companies who produce feed additives."Horticulture, Purdue University