We have an old copy of Putting Food By written by Greene, Hertzberg, and Vaughn nearly 30 years ago. For years, we considered it the bible of food canning and storage. It’s battered and beat though loved. We finally broke down and bought the new edition, a 2010 edition. It’s still a staunch adherent of Clearjel:
“We have advocated its use wholeheartedly. We give it as an ingredient in our fruit pie fillings. We have used it at home as a household staple in gravies, sauces, and casseroles. We believe it is the best thickener we have ever handled.” 1
Clearjel is a modified cornstarch commonly used in pie fillings, jams and jellies though it works equally well in stovetop cooking to thicken sauces, gravies, and soups. Unlike ordinary cornstarch, Clearjel works in acidic foods, tolerates high heat, and reduces weeping. It is very commonly used in commercial bakeries and in frozen foods.
But it is in canning that Clearjel is most often used in homes.
“Clearjel is the only thickener the USDA recommends for home canning.” 2
Because Clearjel thickens as it cools, heat is more evenly distributed through canned foods in processing. In home canning applications, this is an important safety consideration.
Clearjel and Instant Clearjel
Instant Clearjel is similar to regular Clearjel but does not require cooking to thicken. Because it thickens when the liquid is added, it is a convenient to thicken sauces, dressing, and desserts without reheating.
Clearjel can be substituted for starch in nearly any kitchen recipe.
For canning, many university extension services have recipes using Clearjel. We like these recipes published by Washing State University. They provide hints for use and troubleshooting tips.
1 Putting Food By, Greene, Janet; Hertzberg, Ruth; and Vaughn, Beatrice; The Penguin Group, New York, NY; 2010; p42.
2 Food Safety and Research Bulletin, University of Minnesota Extension Service, Dec 20, 2007, and many other sources on the internet.