Clear Jel vs Flour or Cornstarch

Clear Jel..... try it you'll like it!

I've always canned my apple pie and other pie fillings with flour or cornstarch as a thickener.... I'd heard of Clear Jel but I had not tried it. It has been on my list of things to do.

Well I've gone and done it. And I am sold.

If you'll look at these pictures you'll see why. These are both apple pie fillings that I've canned. I'll bet you can tell which one has flour as a thickener. Yep the one on the left.  The right one is much nicer!!

Clear Jel is a modified corn starch made to withstand the heat of canning.  Use it just like you would flour. The wonderful difference is... clear jel stirs in much easier and no clumping. Be sure you purchase the non-instant or regular type. The regular is made to withstand the high temperatures of canning.

Instant will not hold up. It is good for using in gravies and other non-canning thickening.

Questions from my inbox:

Question: Hi!  I love your website!  I'm new to canning and gardening but am having a lot of success this year!  I wanted to try your apple pie filling method but am having trouble finding Clear Jel in my grocery store or Walmart.  Do you recommend ordering online or do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Clear jel can often be found in Old Fashioned or Amish type stores. Or possibly in health food stores.  It can also be ordered online at Amazon, or Barry Farms.  Here is a link to Barry Farms. (not an affiliate link) 

Be sure you get the non instant type.  It is best for canning. 

Read Mitchells e-mail below to learn more. She is the person who introduced me to clear jel.

I just read the question on pie fillings, you did not know what special pie thickener that the person was talking about.

It is called Clear Jel, you would buy the "Cook Type" it is a specially modified cornstarch that does not break down like regular. cornstarch or get watery.

As for buying it you can find it the cheapest if you live in an area that had Mennonite or Amish Bulk Foods, there it runs about 2.00 per lb. on line you can find it but they rob you at 6.00 per lb.

Believe me once you get to using it, you will never go back to reg. cornstarch again. I mean for reg. cooking, homemade custards etc.

I wanted to tell you also, that the one nice point on the "Cook Type" (there is an instant type) you don't want that, you want the "Cook Type"

Is that when you use this, when you thicken your pie fillings custards etc. It gets as thick as it is going to get when it is hot in the pan, so what you see is what you get, so you know that your pie fillings in the jars is going to be as thick when you open and dump them out as they when they went into the jars.

You know when you make Cornstarch Custard at home for dinner, and you use corn starch how when it went into the bowl looking nice, then when it got cold and you could cut it like jello (what a disappointment) Well Clear Jel, takes care of that, the way it was in the pan is the way it will be in the bowl out of the fridge.

You will love it, mix it up as your thickening just like using reg. cornstarch.


Question - Can I ask you if it is safe to use cornstarch as a thickener when canning (say apple pie filling).. and do you know if Sure Gel and Clear Gel are interchangeable?

Answer - Sure Gel is a pectin.  You use it in jams and jellies.  Whereas clear jel is what you want for pies. 

As far as safety.  I used cornstarch for years with no problems other than the thickener would clump up.  Clear jel is MUCH nicer!  

USDA standards recommend clear jel, but they don't really state that it is for safety. I think it is more of a quality reason.  Clear Jel really is sooo much nicer.  I really recommend it. 

Here is a link to NCFHFP information on Clear Jel.

Question:  I am having problems with Clear Jel holding it's jell after I have canned. I canned some blueberry pie filling last year and it was great when I put it in the jars. But when I used it nine months later it was runny when I opened it.

When I make a pie I use a gram cracker crust and heat it up at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. It stays runny. I have added Clear Jel to thicken it up when it comes out of the jar and it has helped. But I give away the pie filling to my kids and they don't use it because it is so runny. HELP!


Answer: Duane,  The only thing I can think of is maybe you need to use a bit more. I've not had any issues like this so possibly your personal taste is that you like it thicker.  Be sure and measure carefully when you make your filling. 

I have read reports of the clear jel not setting up if it is too old.  Is yours out of date? 

One last possibility... did you use an instant clear jel? Or the regular.  Remember instant won't hold up as well.  That may be the issue. 

Not sure if that helps at all but I'm not sure what else to suggest. 

Only other thing I can suggest is change the label on the jar to... blueberry syrup.  :)  Great over ice cream or pancakes. :) 


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