FAQ: What makes egg yolks golden?
EGG-CETERA -- egg facts and conversation points that you never knew you wanted to know.
A chickens' diet is what gives their egg yolks the varying shades of yellow. Dark golden orange yolks are an indication what the chickens ate. We tend to associate dark yolks with health and nutrition because we imagine that the chickens with dark golden yolks are living a good life, free-ranging eating bugs and plants, and that's why their eggs are golden. Yes and no. The real answer is more complicated than that.
A few things factor into the making of an orange yolk: xanthophylls (dark, leafy vegetables), omega-3 fatty acids (whole grains, flax), and protein/meats (bugs, small lizards, etc.). Caged hens would not normally have access to this and we assume that pastured chickens do. Therefore golden egg yolks must mean healthier chickens and eggs, right?
Not necessarily. Some egg producers are adding herbs like paprika, turmeric chile powder or even synthetic coloring to make egg yolks darker for consumers to purchase. I fell into this mindset, I totally bought the dark yolk eggs! But are they healthier? The FDA did a study that says dark egg yolks and pale egg yolks have the same nutrition. Mother Earth News and Penn State University did independent studies that suggest pastured eggs contain higher levels of vitamins A, D, and E; more beta-carotene; and more omega-3s.
I'm not an eggs-pert (get it?!), I just know that I like my fresh butt nuggets and think they taste better and richer than store-bought eggs. Want to nerd out more on this topic? Read "Marketing the Perfectly Colored Egg Yolk" from Modern Farmer.
Want to learn how to perfectly peel a boiled egg? Watch the Story Highlights on @BakingWithChickens Instagram.