ClearJel and Corn Starch to Use as Thickeners In Homemade Canned Pie Fillings - Information and Where to Buy Clear Jel
This month's notes: April 2014: Spring is just around the corner. Strawberries are here in Florida, Texas and California, next in late March and April for much of the South, then in May for most of the country and June in cooler northern areas. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam!
Notes About Clear Jel or Ordinary Corn Starch in Making Homemade Canned Pie Fillings
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."
Where to get ClearJel
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.:
Ultra-Jel: Gluten-free, Non-GMO Canning Starch
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.
Tips on Using ClearJel:
- This stuff turns tick like no other starch you've ever seen, so use it sparingly, and late in the process. For example, if you need to strain your fruit to remove seeds or pulp; do that before you add an ClearJel.
- Blend ClearJel with sugar or other dry ingredients before adding to liquids . This greatly helps to prevent clumping and to ensure smoothness. The sugar also acts to control the rate of the absorption of water (hydration) of the starch, the active ingredient in Clear Jel.
- There are about 3 cups in 1 pound of ClearJel®. A typical fruit pie filling recipe requires about 3/4 to 2¼ cups per 7 quarts of pie filling.
- Regular Clearjel is the only thickener the USDA recommends for use in home-canning of fruit pie fillings. It does
- Regular Clearjel thickens upon heating, but it reaches its maximum thickness (viscosity) upon cooling and it resists weeping during storage.
- The "Instant" form of Clearjel is not recommended in home canning, since it tends to break down during processing.
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.
- USDA / National Center for Home Food Preservation
- Using ClearJel, University of Wisconsin Extension Service
Comments from visitors:
- Local source of Clear Jel - a visitor writes on September 20, 2013: "I wanted to let you know that I found the Clear Jel you mention in the apple pie filling section at my county's extension office for $3 a pound. I thought you might want. to let people know some extension offices carry them. I never would have thought to check there if a farm store employee hadn't mentioned it in passing."
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