What Is Edible Gold?

Edible gold leaf is a type of food-safe gold that’s used as a decorative ingredient. Following the high-profile French haute cuisine, edible gold turns cakes, pastries, and cocktails into seemingly extravagant gastronomic works of art.

Edible gold is an ingredient that originated at least 5,000 years ago in culinary history, being consumed in certain areas of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Based on the region and era, edible gold was believed to hold spiritual purification, rejuvenation, and/or medical capabilities. Others simply felt that edible gold was food meant for royalty. Modern mindsets have a different goal: offer this opulence for the masses.

Shop All Edible Gold

Is Gold Edible?

edible gold on chocolate pie topped with fruit

Yes, edible gold is safe to eat. While the bracelet around your wrist or the ring on your finger is toxic and indigestible, food-grade edible gold has been authorized by the United States and European Union as a food additive. The difference between jewelry and edible gold is that jewelry has other metals present in its chemical composition. Edible gold is considered safe to consume when it is purely 24-carat gold. So why is this gold acceptable for our bodies to consume? Studies have shown that edible gold is biologically inert, meaning it won't be absorbed into the body during the digestion process.

What Is Edible Gold Made of?

Edible gold is made of 99.9% 24-carat gold. Edible gold can only be tested at a maximum of 99.9% purity as the product is susceptible to oxidation from the air.

How Is Gold Leaf Made?

Edible gold leaf is made by melting pure gold at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and pouring it into a bar formation. The bar is then stretched very thinly through rollers until a certain point, where it is then pounded down until it is the thickness of .0001 millimeters. Gold is one of the most malleable metals, and each sheet takes about two weeks to make.

What Does Edible Gold Taste Like?

Edible gold has a faint metallic flavor when tasted completely on its own. However, when it’s used as a decorative ingredient, the other flavors easily overpower any flavor that the edible gold may have, resulting in a flavorless decoration.

Where to Buy Edible Gold Leaf

Edible gold leaf is available for purchase on retail websites, specialty hobby or baking stores, and select department stores.

How to Use Edible Gold

bite of a chocolate eclair pastry with an edible gold leaf on top

The uses for edible gold are as expansive as your imagination will allow. From the sweet to the savory, here are just a few ways edible gold has been used in the modern world:

Sweet Edible Gold Uses

Whether it’s adding a finishing touch or coating the entire confectionary, here are a few desserts that look great with edible gold:

Savory Edible Gold Uses

How to Handle Edible Gold

Edible gold is tricky to handle and must be used carefully and correctly. Below are the steps to take when handling edible gold:

  1. Wear properly sized plastic gloves. Gloves must be worn when working with edible gold to not only follow ServSafe guidelines of handling a ready-to-eat product but also for the fact that edible gold will stick to bare hands because of the naturally occurring oils. (Yes, even if you just washed your hands!)
  2. Make sure your gloves are as form-fitting as possible to allow for optimal control when extracting the gold. Any loose plastic can get in the way of the decorating process.
  3. If using only a little bit of edible gold leaf at a time, use non-metal tweezers or a soft-bristled brush for more precise application.

Types of Edible Gold

Edible gold comes in four different styles, each one having its own unique decoration purpose. Below are the four types of edible gold:

1. Edible Gold Leaf

chocolate covered strawberries with edible gold

Edible gold leaf is the best all-purpose type of edible gold. Each leaf is about .0001 millimeters in height. There is a multitude of edible gold layers in a packet with each leaf being separated by a piece of specialty paper. Because each edible gold leaf is so thin, it is extremely fragile and must be used with either small, unused paintbrushes or a set of non-metal tweezers when being transferred in small amounts.

The paper that separates each gold leaf can also be used to transfer large amounts of the edible gold onto food. Simply take a sheet of gold leaf that is still on its paper and place the exposed gold leaf directly onto your food. Using an extremely soft, unused brush, lightly brush the back of the paper to help adhere the gold onto the food.

How to Apply Gold Leaf to a Buttercream Cake

If using on a perfectly frosted buttercream cake, we recommend that the frosting is completely set. Leave the frosted cake in the fridge for an hour to ensure that it is set. If using on fondant, steam the fondant and then place the gold leaf sheets onto the cake. This needs to be done quickly to ensure that the gold adheres to the wet surface of the fondant.

2. Edible Gold Flakes

Edible gold flakes are pre-portioned bits of edible gold leaf. This makes it easier and faster to handle the gold and to decorate desserts with small pieces of edible gold. This is ideal for adding finishing touches on French pastries, suspending in cocktails, or decorating the rims of glasses for holiday cocktails.

3. Edible Gold Crumbs

gold crumbs on top of chocolate balls

Edible gold crumbs are small pieces of edible gold that have been further processed into very small crumbs. Most edible gold crumb bottles have a shaker top that allows for easy distribution over different chocolates, cupcakes, pastries, and many other desserts. Non-metal tweezers can also be used for a more precise application.

4. Edible Gold Dust

Edible gold dust is superfine dust (AKA luster dust) that easily adheres to various foods. It can be brushed dry onto truffles and cakes dry for a matte effect or turned into a liquid for a shiny painted effect. To turn edible gold dust into paint, simply add a small amount of vodka. If you want to learn how to use luster dust without alcohol, use lemon juice in place of vodka. Lemon juice will not be as shiny as vodka, but be mindful that when the edible gold dust is mixed with vodka that it will dry out quickly as the alcohol evaporates.

How to Use Edible Gold Dust

Edible gold dust is ideal for painting:

  • Cakes (keep in mind that the buttercream must be cold!)
  • Words/script
  • Fondant/gum paste
  • Fruit (make sure the fruit is completely dry!)
  • Macarons
  • Ganache
  • Chocolates

How to Store Edible Gold

All types of edible gold must be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

With so many new food trends constantly evolving, sometimes sticking to the classics pays off, and edible gold has stood the test of time for over 5,000 years. So, when it comes to baking decorations, edible gold is the gold standard.

Posted in: Bakeries|Product Spotlights|By Val Goodrich
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.
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