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Clear Jel vs. Cornstarch for canning??

Discussion in 'The Self-Sufficient Kitchen - From Recipes to Proc' started by kimnkell, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. Sep 30, 2010
    kimnkell

    kimnkell Lovin' The Homestead

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    Mine that I canned looks fine.. however, I did take a little bit of the liquid while cooking it and dip a bit out and put it in a separate bowl and whisked in the cornstarch until smooth before adding to the rest of the mixture. It looked really good... I can't wait to make a pie with it now... Let us know how yours turns out.:)
  2. Sep 30, 2010
    VickiLynn

    VickiLynn Lovin' The Homestead

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    This is the USDA information I got in my canning class:

    Canning apple pie filling using tapioca or cornstarch as the thickener (outdated method.) Why is this risky? Botulism is not a major risk here because the high acid content of the apple filling. However, using cornstarch or tapioca may cause the filling to be too thick for the heat to penetrate and kill spoilage organisms throughout the producta food safety issue. Cornstarch will break down during the canning process. Your pie filling will be runnya food quality issue.

    Current recommendations: Clearjel is the only thickening agent approved by the USDA for canning. Clearjel is a modified waxy food starch producing a smooth, heavy-bodied, gel-like product. Canned products retain a smooth texture with no liquid separation or curdling. Cornstarch and tapioca break down during the canning process causing the filling to be runny. Another option is to can the pie filling without any starch and then thicken it with tapioca or cornstarch before putting it in the pie shell.
  3. Oct 4, 2010
    Rebecka

    Rebecka Lovin' The Homestead

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    I made apple crisp with the pie filling last night. It came out REALLY good. I'll not be wasting money on Clear Gel anytime soon :)
  4. Oct 4, 2010
    ORChick

    ORChick Almost Self-Reliant

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    I kind of wonder what the difference is, and why the "heavy-bodied, gel-like product" of Clearjel is different from the "too thick for the heat to penetrate" of the cornstarch or tapioca. I use tapioca, but add it at the time of baking.
  5. Oct 4, 2010
    patandchickens

    patandchickens Crazy Cat Lady

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    I do not know for sure, but have always assumed (cuz it's logical) that the concern with cornstarch or tapioca is that they sometimes form dense clumps that may not heat through properly; whereas Clearjel does not lump.

    Personally I believe that if you are careful with your cornstarch, mix it in smoothly and don't use too much, there is probably essentially zero risk. I have no strong opinion on tapioca because honestly I think it is WAY simpler to add it when actually baking the pie, if that's the way you're going :p

    But anyhow, that may be the reason for the differences in the USDA recommendations.

    Bear in mind that while some of their recommendations are based on actual documented cases of botulism (like, how they do not recommend pickling eggs), others, and I am pretty sure this is likely to be one of them, are based just on laboratory science and the principle of "is it possible to follow directions yet still come out with a product that has not *all* been heated properly".

    JMHO,

    Pat

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