In a blind test, twelve trained sensory assessors at the Nofima food research institute tasted their way through 15 different kinds of hen's eggs that are found on supermarket shelves in East Norway. The producers provided the eggs for the test, which was conducted on Nofima's initiative. The sensory panel characterised smell, taste and appearance.
About the eggs
The fifteen varieties of egg included in the test came from free-range, organic and battery hens. All the eggs were of medium/large size and they were all between one and three weeks old. Previous research has shown that the sensory quality remains stable within this period.
The eggs were judged on a scale of 1 to 9 for all the smell, taste and appearance properties and were at room temperature when tested, so as to increase the taste level.
Taste and smell
The assessors who sit on the sensory panel have some of the most sensitive sense organs in the country. They found surprisingly few sensory differences between the eggs.
These trained assessors found no smell or taste differences at all between the eggs.
Colourful yolks from free-range hens
What clearly distinguished the eggs from each other was the colour of the yolks. All the eggs that distinguished themselves by colour came from free-range hens, and these egg yolks had a deeper, more orange colour.
"We know that consumers eat with their eyes, so it is entirely possible that they might think that eggs with more colour in the yolk taste different, or even better," says Josefine Skaret, Leader of the Sensory Laboratory at Nofima and responsible for the test.
Unlike the eggs from free-range hens, the organic eggs had the palest yolks. In terms of colour, the eggs from battery hens were in the middle.
Which eggs tasted best?
Nofima's survey did not investigate which eggs tasted best, but how they could be distinguished from a purely objective point of view.
"Which eggs end up on the breakfast table at Easter depends entirely on what is important to the consumer," concludes Skaret.