White or Brown: Should You Scramble to Get the Right Egg Color?
There’s a good chance your eggs were white before you decorated them for Easter, since that makes the best canvas, but some chicken breeds lay brown eggs. The difference in color is evident enough, but what if you’re eating them instead of squirreling them away in your yard? Is that where you’ll find a big difference?
The answer is no, not really.
While brown eggs cost more because of our penchant for believing darker-colored foods tend to be healthier, and the hens that lay them require more feed because of their size, the change in pigmentation simply comes down to the chicken. Consumer Reports lays it out pretty simply.
“Different breeds of hens just lay different-colored eggs. Quality, flavor, and nutrition aren’t affected.”
According to a study by Michigan State University, eggs all start out white but are infused with pigment as hens deliver them through their oviduct, a journey that takes about 26 hours. The tint in brown eggs comes from protoporphyrin, a pigment that forms late as the shell develops.
Depending on the chicken, the egg can also come out blue, green, or speckled. The correlation is found in the color of the chicken’s earlobes. Yeah, chickens also have earlobes.
So if you find the right hen, you don’t even have to dye your Easter eggs, since she could do it for you!
While the pigment may not alter taste or nutrition, the chicken’s diet does make a difference. The University of Illinois published a study that says, “If hens have been fed the same type of ration, their eggs will be nutritionally equivalent, regardless of shell color. The eggs will also have the same flavor-keeping quality, and whipping and cooking characteristics.”
Basically, if a chicken eats better, you eat better.
It goes to show that sometimes our perception of color is even more meaningful than the color itself. After all, if you hide your eggs well enough, color is the only thing separating a child’s spring find from a parent’s smelly summer surprise.
That’s why industry professionals use handheld color readers like Konica Minolta’s CR-20 or CR-400 to get an exact measurement of color or whiteness. Easy to use, easy to carry, and extremely precise.
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