ClearJel is a corn starch that has been modified to give it special and unique characteristics when used in food products. Here is what the USDA says about ClearJell compared with cornstarch, tapioca and other thickeners for use in home canning, particularly homemade, home-canned pie fillings:
"It can be used for canned fruit pie fillings because it does not break down in the acid food mixtures and does not thicken enough during heat processing to interfere with the intended effect of the heat on killing bacteria during canning. It is preferred for thickening canned pie fillings as well as other foods over other corn starches because it has less or no aftertaste, the thickened juices are smooth and clear, and foods thickened with ClearJel may be frozen."
Before assembling the other ingredients, including fresh fruits, to make the pie fillings canning recommendations, check to see if you will be able to get ClearJel.
The USDA goes on to say:
"There is no substitution for ClearJel that can be made in these recipes. This means do not use other corn starch, flour, tapioca, or other thickener in our recipes. You also must use ClearJel and not Instant ClearJel, ClearJel A, any other form of ClearJel, or any other modified corn starch."
ClearJel is not commonly available in local stores, but it is available
online and it is inexpensive and lasts a long time. 1 pound of it will last most
people a long, long time. Here's where to get it! Just click on the photos
below for more information. You have a choice of two distributors, both are
available through Amazon, which offer's their speed and protection.:
Some people have written inquiring about a non-GMO version of ClearJel. I have found one producer that says they have such a product: Cornaby's Ultra Gel - Instant, Gluten-Free, non-GMO Food Thickener for Cooking and Canning. Of their product, they say:
Ultra Gel is a gluten-free, non-GMO cornstarch that can be added directed to any liquid, hot or cold, for instant thickening.
Ultra Gel can be used in baked applications to keep breads and cookies soft, or to add body to low calorie sauces and salad dressings. Products made with Ultra Gel can be refrigerated, canned or frozen without weeping, thinning, or breaking down.
Since Ultra Gel is resistant to lumping and adds no flavor of its own, the delicate flavors of herbs and seasonings are preserved and there is no starchy after taste.
Made with 100% gluten free Waxy Maize; light and fluffy for instant no lumping mixing.
Instantly thickens hot or cold liquids; Remains stable when refrigerated, frozen or canned.
Convenient resealable pouch
On Amazon, it received (September 2013) 5.0 out of 5 stars based on 6 customer reviews and was priced at $8.99 for 16 oz (1 lb)
I have not tried it yet, but it looks similar, perhaps identical, to
ClearJel. It does cost about twice as much as the best price I see for
ClearJel. There is an Amazon ordering box above, if you want to
examine it further or order it.
Not to be confused with regular ClearJel; Instant ClearJel is NOT to
be used in canned products. Instant Clear Jel is a food starch that thickens
foods instantly without cooking. For example, in cold drinks and pie
fillings which will be used immediately or frozen. Instant ClearJel will
begin to thicken as soon as it is added to water, milk or juices, but the
viscosity increases slightly when heated. It does have excellent heat and
acid resistance, which means it can be used in acidic foods (like fruits,
juices, vinegar) and in cooked or heated foods. But Instant ClearJel also
holds up very well when chilled or frozen, so it is well suited for
refrigerated and frozen foods.
Conversion / Usage Rates for Instant ClearJel:
1 Tablespoons. cornstarch is the same as 1.5 (one and a half) Tablespoons of instant clearjel
2 Tablespoons of flour or Tapioca = 1 Tablespoon of instant clearjel
You can purchase Instant ClearJel through Amazon using the link at above left.