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I'm trying to make a zesty sauce from a mayo base/ketchup base mixture. Sometimes color turns out dark orange, sometimes off white, even though I'm using the same recipe. I'm thinking that how I make the mayo base could be altering the color of the final product. I'm looking to get a pale orange final color.

I've been making the mayo base using hand wisk, canola oil, white vinegar, lemon juice and egg yolks and like I've said, use the same process each time but can't explain the color difference. Any suggestions on what I can do to get a more consistent final product color?

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2 Answers

I would think the main factor in the colouration, assuming you use the same amount of ketchup each time, is the colour of the egg yolks.

There is a specified range of yolk colours, specified on a yolk colour fan (PDF). The colour varies depending on the amount of caretonoids in the feed the chickens have eaten. Most chicken farms will supplement the feed with supplemental caretonoids in order to avoid pale yolks.

As eggs from the supermarket will likely vary widely in source, and thus feed, supplements and colour, it may be worthwhile to find a local, small-scale farm where you can ask the farmer about feed and supplements. If the chickens are truly free range, they may well eat a lot of insects, which also contributes to a rich orange yolk.

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Certain herbs and spices have traditionally been used to add colour to dishes - you could consider adding a small amount of something like saffron to adjust the colour to your liking. (The obvious downside is that saffron is rather expensive.)

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Saffron also has a flavor to it. The the goal is just color change, you could use standard food colorings (liquid, gels or powders ... although some will deepen in color after they sit for a day) –  Joe Jun 14 '13 at 12:10
    
That's true, although given the relatively potent colouring effects of saffron and a target colour of pale orange, the original poster might find any flavour changes to be tolerable, if noticeable at all. –  user18740 Jun 14 '13 at 12:15
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Turmeric would be just as yellow, considerably cheaper, and its flavor would compliment the sauce better than saffron, IMHO. –  Sobachatina Jun 14 '13 at 12:34
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