The Color of Eggs: An Interview with Our Resident Egg-spert

Sweet Autumn Farm Eggs

A colorful array of Sweet Autumn Farm eggs (all from the same half dozen!)

White, brown, blue, green; speckled, striped, solid, blushed; boiled, scrambled, fried, whipped — there are so many kinds of eggs and so many delicious ways to use them! To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of eggs as a kid, but eggs are now one of my favorite things to buy here at Formaggio Kitchen. Not only do I love them as a hearty snack, or watching them transform other ingredients when baking, but I love buying from the local farms we work with. I still remember the first egg I ate that didn’t come from a giant chain grocery store — the color of the yolk, the richness of the flavor, the delicacy of texture. Seasonality, freshness, and the animals’ health and diet all play big roles in the world of eggs, and buying from our Massachusetts producers helps me remember this remarkable fact.

As eggs start appearing more prominently on our tables for Easter and Passover, what better chance to acknowledge some of what makes this food so magical! I took the time to chat with Emily, our resident egg-spert and Produce Manager at the Cambridge shop, for more details:


Emily Shannon, Produce Manager

Emily Shannon, Produce Manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge

(Rob) Tis the season for Easter egg dying – but why are some eggs naturally different colors?

(Emily) The reason why some eggs are naturally different colors is based solely upon the breed of chicken. Eggs can range widely in color, the most common variants being white, cream, and light to dark brown eggs. All hens lay eggs made of the same white material, calcium carbonate, but certain breeds deposit different pigments on the egg shell as it forms. Some hens produce blue, olive, and even lightly tinted purple and pink eggs. For instance, the Araucana breed lays a very deep, pretty blue egg. And the appropriately named Olive Egger breed lays eggs that are – you guessed it – olive green in color.
(Rob) What can the appearance of an egg tell us about the way in which a chicken was raised?
(Emily) While the color of the eggshell does not indicate the flavor by any means, there are other ways to determine the freshness and flavor of the egg. An egg fresh from the farm will be much harder to peel once hardboiled than an older egg, and, unlike the shell, the color of the yolk depends mostly on the diet of the bird. A bright, golden orange yolk is usually an indicator of a healthy, well balanced diet rich in xanthophylls (leafy greens such as spinach, kale and other brassicas) omega-3 fatty acids, and meats (insects such as grasshoppers, mealworms, grubs, etc.). This can still vary over the course of the year though (as diets change, for example often decreasing in protein over the winter).
(Rob) Where do we get our eggs from here at the shop?
(Emily) At Formaggio Kitchen, we buy our eggs from local Massachusetts farms. We buy chicken eggs from Chip-In Farm in Concord, chicken and duck eggs from Sweet Autumn Farm in Carlisle and chicken eggs from Silverbrook Farm in Westport, Massachusetts.
(Rob) Besides the obvious, what are the differences between a chicken egg and a duck egg?
(Emily) Duck eggs are slightly larger and the eggshell is much smoother to the touch than chicken eggs. In addition, the yolk is bigger and often more rich in flavor.
(Rob) Easter and Passover are all about the hardboiled egg – what’s your favorite egg recipe or preparation technique?
(Emily) I love soft boiled or poached eggs! Here’s a great instructional video courtesy of the New York Times describing how to poach an egg.
Thanks Emily!
Rob Campbell is a culinary adventurer, world traveler, science geek, and also the blog manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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