You may have seen it featured on the world’s most expensive taco or on The Ainsworth chicken wings that went viral back in 2018. You can expect any food that has a ridiculously high price tag to be coated or dusted in some form of edible gold. But what is edible gold? According to The Takeout, edible gold starts out as either gold bars or gold grain. The gold is then heated to a temperature of about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, poured into rectangular molds, and rolled out and compressed into ultra-thin sheets.
That may seem like a long process for an ingredient that only exists to make your food look fancy, but edible gold isn’t just some new bougie food trend. CNBC shares that the practice has been around for centuries. It was used throughout the Middle Ages, across Europe, and in Ancient Rome to garnish dishes as a symbol of wealth. The appetite for gold hasn’t changed much since then, and if you’ve never tried it, the taste may surprise you.
What does edible gold taste like?
Delicacies like caviar, foie gras, and truffles have their distinct flavors, but edible gold — not so much. According to Maclean’s, edible gold is entirely tasteless and has no texture. A burger coated in gold leaf, unfortunately, won’t taste any different from one without it. You will, however, be several hundred dollars shorter on cash.
If the nonexistent flavor of edible gold isn’t enough reason for you to skip a gimmicky, overpriced meal, perhaps you might change your mind upon learning that all edible gold isn’t actually edible. As Slate explains, only 24-karat gold is safe for consumption. That’s because 24-karat gold is pure gold and therefore chemically inert, meaning it’ll just pass through your digestive system without your body absorbing it. Edible gold that is less than 24 karats, or mixed with other metals like copper, is risky to eat because it can be toxic, cause adverse health reactions, and change skin pigmentation. Although the CDC doesn’t consider it a fatal substance, it’s worth noting that edible gold isn’t FDA-evaluated or approved. It sure looks pretty on food though.