A Color Guide To Egg Yolks

Staff Writer
While an egg yolk’s color may seem like a indicator of freshness and nutrition, this isn’t ultimately the case

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Egg yolks should be the color of: what? Depending on where you live, your answer to the question will vary. Perhaps bright orange, sunflower yellow, or even as pale as lemonade. The concern arises when you crack open an egg and find an unexpected hue inside: Is something wrong? According to NPR, not at all.

The color of yolks does not depend on the freshness — or lack thereof — of the egg. Instead, it depends on the diet of the hen.

As Scott Beyer, a Kansas poultry specialist, explains, the transfer is surprisingly simple. If the hens are primarily eating yellow corn, “it gets in the egg…but if you had a situation where you’re feeding birds white corn, then the egg yolk could be white.”

Moreover, commercial feeds are often customized to consumers’ expectations. Because most expect sunny-colored yolks, a popular hen diet will consist of yellow corn, soybeans, and even carrots.

In parts of Africa, less vibrant hued sorghum fed to hens leads to fairer yolks. But in some parts of South America, where hens enjoy crimson annatto seeds, the eggs yolks more closely resemble sweet potatoes.

So if you’re making sunny-side up eggs and the yolks aren’t the color of the sun, don’t worry. They’ll be just as good for you, and just as delicious. 

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