When it comes to eggs, most people are familiar with the typical white or brown chicken egg. However, some breeds of ducks are known for laying eggs in shades of blue or green. So which duck breeds lay colorful eggs, and why do their eggs differ from chicken eggs?
The Blue Egg Gene
The blue or green color of certain duck eggs is caused by a genetic mutation that results in the deposition of biliverdin, a pigment, on the eggshell. This is controlled by a dominant gene that has become prevalent in certain duck breeds through selective breeding.
Chickens do not have this blue egg gene, so their eggs remain white or brown. The white color comes from the calcium carbonate that makes up the eggshell, while brown eggs get their color from protoporphyrin deposits.
Duck Breeds That Lay Blue Eggs
There are several duck breeds that commonly lay blue or green eggs, including:
- Swedish Blue
- Blue Swedish
- German Penciled
- Welsh Harlequin
- Silver Appleyard
Of these breeds, Swedish Blue (also known as Blue Swedish) and German Penciled ducks are considered true “blue egg layers.” Their eggs are a bright robin’s egg blue. Other breeds like the Welsh Harlequin lay eggs in shades of blue, green, or olive.
Why Blue Eggs?
So why were some duck breeds selectively bred to produce blue eggs? Here are some of the main reasons:
- Novelty – Blue eggs stand out and are prized for their unique color.
- Easier to spot – Against most backdrops, vivid blue eggs are easier for duck farmers to spot when gathering eggs.
- Higher demand – In some markets, blue duck eggs fetch a higher price than white chicken eggs.
The blue egg trait has been passed down in breeds like Swedish Blue because it offers advantages for both the ducks and their owners.
Blue Egg Production
In duck breeds that lay blue eggs, not every duck will lay blue eggs. Here is what influences their egg color:
- Genetics – Only ducks that carry the blue egg gene will lay blue eggs. Those without it will lay white eggs.
- Age – Young ducks may lay paler blue or green eggs, with the color darkening as the duck matures.
- Season – Egg color may bleach or fade in the summer sun.
- Diet – Some report deeper blue from ducks on a diet rich in yellow corn.
So while genetics ensure the potential for blue egg laying, other factors can affect the intensity and consistency of color.
Comparison to Chicken Eggs
Aside from the different shell color, do blue duck eggs differ from white chicken eggs? Let’s compare some characteristics:
|Characteristic||Chicken Egg||Duck Egg|
|Shell color||White or brown||Blue, blue-green|
|Egg size||Small to extra large||Typically larger|
|Yolk color||Yellow or orange||Deeper orange|
|Albumen (egg white)||More||Less|
|Uses||Widely used in cooking and baking||Ideal for richer dishes|
As the table shows, blue duck eggs tend to have thicker shells, larger yolks, and a higher fat content than standard chicken eggs. Their rich taste makes them perfect for entrees, desserts, and more.
Availability of Blue Duck Eggs
If you want to get your hands on some beautiful blue duck eggs, here are a few options:
- Check your local farmer’s market – Some duck owners may sell extra eggs.
- Search for local duck egg suppliers – Try websites like Eat Local or Ask the Farmers.
- Order online – Several companies ship duck eggs nationwide.
- Raise your own ducks – A small backyard flock can provide a steady supply.
Blue duck eggs may not be as common as chicken eggs, but with the right sourcing you can find these colorful gems. Expect to pay a premium price for their novelty and rarity.
Cooking with Blue Duck Eggs
Blue duck eggs boast a richer, more savory flavor and velvety texture when cooked. Here are some great ways to put them to use:
- Bake breads, cakes, or custards to showcase their richness.
- Prepare scrambled eggs or omelets for breakfast.
- Use in place of chicken eggs for dishes like quiche or frittata.
- Make homemade pasta or noodles for a vivid yellow color.
- Whip up blue mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, or aioli.
- Add to rice, grains, or potato salads for a pop of color.
Get creative in the kitchen with these colorful, flavorful eggs!
Blue and green duck eggs offer more than just a pretty package – they provide a distinctly rich taste. While any breed carrying the blue egg gene may produce them, Swedish Blues are considered the true blue egg layers.
Compared to chicken eggs, blue duck eggs have thicker shells, larger yolks, and a higher fat content. They are increasingly popular amongst homesteaders and foodies.
While still considered a specialty item, blue duck eggs can be found at local farms, specialty suppliers, and online retailers. They make beautiful additions to all types of recipes, from breakfast dishes to decadent desserts. So next time you come across these robin’s egg gems, grab some and get cooking!