Having grown up on store bought eggs, it surprised me the first time I encountered a ‘farm fresh’ egg. It was the same shape and size that I was used to, but the shell was colored brown instead of the white.
“What kind of eggs are those?” I wondered.
‘Farm Fresh!’ the sign read.
This left me confused with even more questions. Don’t all eggs come from a farm? Have the eggs I’ve been eating up till now NOT been fresh? What kind of strange bird lays brown eggs?
Fast forward to today, and I’m a little more educated.
While white is the predominant color for eggs, chickens can lay blue eggs, as well as, a variety of other colors. Brown is probably the most common after white, but there is also light green, olive green and sometime even red. It all depends on the breed of hen and the pigments they add during the formation of the shell.
Much like the wide variety of plumage for domesticated chickens, egg shell color is influenced by breed genetics.
It should be noted, that the original Red Junglefowl, from which today’s chicken originated from, does not lay the bright white eggs that most people are familiar with. And this makes sense as bright white egg shells would be easily spotted by potential predators looking to make a meal.
However, white shells were pursued by the egg industry as this color allows for better results during a process called ‘candling’, whereby potential defects are easily detected, and thusly, not passed on to the consumer.
Are Blue Eggs Safe To Eat?
It’s completely understandable why one would be hesitant regarding a blue shelled egg. After all, isn’t it wise to be cautious when encountering something new?
But in all reality, the color of the shell is indicative to the breed of bird that laid it, not to any supposed sort of imperfection hiding within.
So while it might be odd, to encounter an egg with a blue or green hue to the shell, so long as you properly cook the contents, these eggs should be perfectly safe to consume.
### Important Note ###
All food comes with risk and this includes eggs – regardless of their color. Should you crack open an egg and encounter an unpleasant odor, then it is advisable that you discard the egg. Remember the process of ‘candling’ was implemented for the purpose of finding defects. Chickens of all breeds, do occasionally lay the bad egg.
Much like the saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ eggs deserved to be judged by their contents rather than by their appearance.
Do Blue Eggs Taste Different?
When it comes to blue eggs, think of the shell as wrapping paper.
For example, if you had a classroom of 24 kids, 12 boys and 12 girls, and you wrapped 24 identical candy canes to give as a gifts, would it really affect the taste of the candy if the boys all got blue wrapping paper and the girls got pink?
This is the same for eggs.
Now while you are certain, in the classroom scenario mentioned above, to observe some of the children adamantly insisting that their candy tastes better, the reality is that it’s all the same.
Again, this is largely the same for eggs.
While backyard eggs are certain to be noticeably more full of flavor than white shelled store bought, the difference of taste between a blue shelled egg and a brown shelled egg is strictly a matter of personal perception.
If people were given a blindfold taste test between blue, brown, green or even red shelled eggs, I suspect the results would prove any perceivable difference in taste to be minuscule.
In contrast, if you were to compare the taste of a blue shelled backyard egg to a white shelled industrial egg, then it is most likely that a significant difference in taste would be noted.
Can Chickens Lay Different Color Eggs?
Domestication of chickens has yielded some very impressive variations. Simply put, between plumage and behavior, there is a chicken for almost everyone. And one of these amazing attributes from the plethora of available characteristics, is egg color.
Backyard chickens can lay white, brown, sky blue, soft green, olive green and even red colored eggs. They can also lay speckled and even miniature eggs. The appearance of the shell depends entirely on the genetics of the bird.
### Important Note ###
If you are interested in novelty colored shells, then the Easter Egger might just be the bird for you.
This chicken is unique among breeds as it has a heritage of part ‘blue shelled’ and part whatever you want. In other words, an Ameraucana hen with a Maran rooster would yield a batch of Easter Eggers. (Think of it as more of a class of chicken, rather than a heritage breed.)
What Color Of Eggs Are Healthiest?
As mentioned above, the color of the egg shell is much like wrapping paper. Regardless of what goes on the outside, it’s what is inside that actually counts. And despite whatever you might read from the ‘experts’, the nutritional contents of an egg are largely dictated by feed, breed, and overall bird health – egg shell color is not a factor.
However, there can be a notable difference between the industrial and the backyard egg.
For example, if you were to crack open one of each and place them in the same bowl, it is very likely that you would note some significant differences in color and texture – with the industrial egg being more pale and runny.
As to which one is the healthiest, arguments have been made for both sides. It is my personal belief that the backyard egg has the most nutritional benefits. And my reasoning for this lies in the backyard chicken’s lifestyle.
My birds are released from their coop at daybreak, everyday and have several acres to wander and forage. This is obviously different from the industrial setting where hundreds of thousands of birds are confined to less than half an acre. There is no fresh new grass to for them to graze on everyday. Nor is there access to bugs, roots, worms or anything other than industrial feed.
Clearly a flock with access to several acres is going to get a lot more exercise – not only in body, but in mind – than chickens that live their entire lives in a building. And it is my opinion that a happy healthy chicken is going to deliver a much better product than a bird raised in captivity.