US vs UK: Eggs edition!


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the usage of “to” or “from” after the word “different” is also different in the UK and US. ha. Always sounds weird to me when I hear “different to” on the BBC radio.

One night at the local pub I drank most of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. My friends very kindly took care of me and prevented me from dying. The next morning, two of them tell me, I came happily walking into the dining hall, piled a plate with scrambled eggs, and left. I don’t remember doing that, much less what the eggs tasted like.

Even though US eggs would be illegal in Europe I would like to take some over, or import some, and do a side-by-side taste test.

And that was a nice shout-out to the Scotch egg. There were long stretches when I would live on Scotch eggs, apples, and Guinness.

The washing part was interesting to me – a good study of different government approaches to a problem.

The yolk color (or youlk colour) part I feel may be more a case of confirmation bias. Or perhaps picking eggs from factory-farms in the US vs non-factory farms in the UK. My organic egg yolks look plenty orange to me when cooked right.

It would be a fairly simple citizen-science study to ask people to photograph just-cracked eggs on a white background, and then see if an expert – or a computer – could distinguish between the US and the UK eggs.


In ordinary, non-organic eggs yolk color is managed with feed additives. Which color consumers prefer varies from country to country and sometimes even region to region.

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This seems to be very light journalism, essentially an opinion piece. The main difference described in the article is almost exclusively due to age. Washing and refrigerating an egg extends its shelf life, like most things that are refrigerated. The eggs you buy in most US grocery stores are by and large older than the eggs you’d get in the UK. This isn’t too surprising when you consider the differences in distance between farms and city centers between the two countries.

As eggs age, their whites thin out and the yolks absorb liquid from the whites, resulting in a paler color. It has nothing to do with whether there’s still a film on the outside, or whether the eggs have been washed, other than the fact that going through those extra steps will add a day to the processing time. If you go to an mass-producing egg farm in the US and get an egg right from the chicken, it will be firm, deeply yellow, etc.

I get my eggs from the chickens in the garden at work. And I make sure there’s damn good leftovers go in the chicken bucket for those hens. We have an understanding, see. The best eggs. Best. Eggs.


In addition to encourage good practices by the farm, a sailing book I have says that unwashed eggs keep longer than washed eggs - due to a protective layer that the washing, er, washes off.

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I’ve never noted a difference. And neither have any of my family members despite people constantly travelling back and forth between Ireland (not the UK but close enough) and the US. Yolk color isn’t a reliable indicator of quality (if I remember the various taste tests I’ve read about over the years fat content, often listed as omega 3 content on organic or free range eggs is a reliable indicator). And the whole wash vs don’t wash thing doesn’t necessarily have any effect on egg quality or flavor. It just kills the shelf life, so the eggs need to be refrigerated. Beyond that there’s some pretty astounding variation in egg quality in the US (presumably the UK too). $.99 a dozen super market eggs are pretty shit. The more expensive brands are probably on par with whatever UK egg she’s using as a comparison point. And if I want I can go get some unwashed farm fresh eggs that will most likely be better. And no egg I’ve had in years holds a candle to the eggs I grew up on. Which were small eggs from very young hens and bantam hens raised by my grandfather and uncle.

I haven’t lived in the UK since '99, but I don’t recall a taste difference. As for refrigeration, here in the US we often shop at stores where the eggs are sold out of coolers, not refrigerators, just as they are in the UK.

Of course, the reason we don’t vaccinate our chickens is the whole avian autism thing.

The yolk color is based on nutritional value, and nothing more (okay, there may be some small variety based on the breed of chicken, but that should be minimal). The yolk is the embryo’s feed sac. The healthier the hen is able to eat, the more nutritious, and more dark orange-colored, the yolk will be. Plus tastier!

Perhaps it is not as commonly done in America which is “yellow yolk” country, but in Europe hens are routinely fed an artificially high-carotenoid diet to get just the right shade of orange.

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