Today’s addition to our Vintage Cooking 101 Series focuses on how to unmold your gelatin creation. A cold molded salad will rarely just slide out of cold pan party perfectly.

Here are five easy steps to ensure your molded salad comes out smoothly.

How to Unmold a Gelatin Salad

  1. Fill a large bowl or baking dish with warm water. The bowl should be large enough to hold the mold.
  2. Carefully lower the mold into in the water. Do not fully submerge. Hold for 3-5 seconds and remove from water.
  3. Gently shake mold side to side to loosen. If there is no give, drip in water again for another 3-5 seconds. Be careful though, too much heat exposure can melt your salad.
  4. Place serving plate on top of mold. Grip mold and plate together firmly and flip over quickly.
  5. Give the mold a little wiggle to help release salad and gently lift mold up and away. Return to fridge to chill until ready to be served.

How far should the mold be in the water?

I prefer lowering it right up to 1/8″ beneath the top lip of the mold, but have seen many directions say just dip the bottom or only to lower 1/2 way. The concern here is melting. Gelatin is very temperature sensitive and heat exposure will cause your mold to melt. If you are working with very small or intricately detailed molds, I recommend 1-2 very short dips in the water, testing sides for release each time before attempting to unmold.

Are silicone molds easier to unmold?

My personal experience: in baking yes, for molded salads no. For molded salads I prefer metal, hard plastic, or Pyrex molds. The hard sides are easier in my opinion to unmold.

Other tips to prevent gelatin molds from sticking

  • Make sure the mold is completely set. You can’t rush the setting process. Give your gelatin creation plenty of time or even over night. Fully set molds are easier to unmold.
  • Rinse the mold with cold water before filling. Tap out excess water, but do not dry. This is the way my Grandma did it.
  • Spray with a very thin layer of cooking spray.  I’ve seen this floating around the internet quite a bit. I think it does deserve a place on this list, but with a word of warning: the cooking spray does leave a greasy residue on the mold and depending on the brand, variety and freshness of the spray, a noticeable taste.  I find cooking spray most helpful with small intricate molds like metal candy molds where sticking and melting using the submerging method is highly likely. The other situation I would recommend cooking spray is using with layered (where you’ll be chilling, adding a layer and re-chilling) meat focused molds (ala Shrimp Molded salad). These are the molds that I’ve had the most issue unmolding. Luckily they are also the ones that the oil residue is least noticeable on (vs fruit mold).

Any other tricks or tips? We’d love to hear them.

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