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Tangerine Eggs!

Asked by maire. Answered on 14th February 2012

Full question

Dear Nigella & Co, when I watch your shows or when I visit London, I am blown away by the gorgeous color of English eggs! That amazing orange yolk. What are these chicks being fed that produces that beautiful color? Can you recommend any provider in the USA and/or Europe where I can order these sublime little ovals?

Hi Nigella and team, where do you buy your eggs? Or is it a specific breed of hen I should look for? I find it so difficult to buy eggs with that rich, orangey yolk that I'm accustomed to seeing on your show and in the Netherlands. I've tried multiple brands at various supermarkets, and all the egg yolks are a very disappointing (and lackluster) pale yellow. Many thanks, love the website.

Our answer

The deep yellow colour of egg yolks was historically seen as a sign that the hen was healthy. Sick or worm-ridden hens would produce pale coloured yolks. With modern farming methods this is no longer the case but the colour of a yolk will reflect a hen's diet.

The very deep yellow, sometimes orange, colour comes from a group of pigments called carotenoids. These are found frequently in fruits and vegetables. So if the hen has a varied diet, including a selection of vegetable matter, then it will usually have deeper coloured yolks. Yellow-orange coloured yolks are more common in free range hens that have access to outside areas and can scratch around and forage for some of their own food.

You are most likely to find the darker yolked eggs at Farmers' Markets and you may also have the opportunity to ask the vendor about the hens' diet.

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