August 4, 2010

What I've Learned About Clear Jel

In one of my July Independence Days Challenge updates, I mentioned that I bought a 5 lb bag of Clear Jel for canning pie fillings.   You all had a lot of questions and comments about it, which you can read at the end of  this post.  These gave me food for thought, and I wanted more information too.  So I've been doing some research. Here's what I learned.....

Clear Jel was first introduced in 1948 by National Starch.  It is made from waxy maize and cross linking.  Waxy maize (prized by body builders for it's protein content) contains amylopectan (nearly 100%), which gives products greater stability of texture than ordinary corn starch (which we all know can get runny).  Cross linking adds chemical bonds between the starch polymers.  These allows the starch granules to swell, but not disintegrate in high heat processing like canning.  This is why Clear Jel, rather than corn starch, is recommended by the USDA for canning pie fillings.

Is Clear Jel made from genetically modified corn?  When this post was originally written (Aug. 2010), the manufacturer had a statement on their website stating no. That statement is no longer there (Feb. 2013), so I'm removing the link. 

20 comments:

Michelle said...

Thanks Leigh!22chickens
22chickens

Michelle said...

oops...typing error! thats the title of my next blog post...

Michelle said...

Now I'm curious about whether Clear Jel could be used as a substitute for gelatin, which can contain all manner of all KIND of animals' by-products . . . .

Leigh said...

Michelle, I love the title "22 Chickens"! I can't wait to read the post.

Michelle, good question. I reckon that depends on whether or not it requires heat for thickening. Being a corn product it probably does. According to this website, Cook's Thesaurus, it can be used for stews and sauces, both of which are cooked.

Mama Pea said...

Good information! Thanks for doing the research for us.

Benita said...

I swear I learn more by reading your site than I do reading anything else. I had no clue...

seybernetx said...

For sure, Clear Jel wasn't using GMO corn in 1948. So the manufacturer is using the same formula from then it should be acceptable to you.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, you're welcome. I love doing research. In fact, I've possible missed my calling!

Benita, LOL. Thank my readers and their ever inquisitive minds.

Seybernetx, I have to confess that I'm not entirely satisfied with the end result. I canned cherry pie filling eons ago, but for the life of me, couldn't remember what I used as a thickener then. This year I had a glut of blueberries and we love blueberry pie. The clear jel filling works fine, product looks great, but it tastes just like a store bought pie. I really prefer my pies made from fresh fruit. I'll have to try some made from my frozen blueberries for comparison.

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Have you tried the Instant ClearJel as well? I wonder if when you use the Instant and your frozen fruits if they would turn out more to your liking. I use the Cook Type for canning and I would agree with you it does resemble store bought in texture.

I like Tapioca when using fresh fruits and I recently stumbled on Tapioca Flour. Haven't tried it yet tho.

If you get random comments on old posts from me, don't be surprised...

Leigh said...

Apple Pie Gal, nope, never tried the instant. I think, as you say, it's formulated for freezing. I probably won't freeze pie fillings though. I looked for tapioca flour too and would love to try some. Do blog about what you think of it when you do give it a try. I'll be interested!

Melany Vorass said...

I'm curious as to how it is processed? I know modified food starch can be manufactured in a number of ways, most commonly by subjecting regular food starch to hydrochloric acid. I wonder if there is any residue left on the starch. This morning I canned some delicious cherry pie filling using Clear Jel. I spilled a bit of the starch liquid before adding it to the mix, and it lightened the paint color on my wall by a shade. Hmmm. Anything more you can find out on this is greatly appreciated!

Leigh said...

Melany, that's a good question. Research for me however, is a winter time project, even for interesting questions. I'm currently up to my eyeballs in produce and canning!

Debbie said...

The GMO statement made by Ingredion is deceptive and misleading (in my opinion). Clearjel is more than likely made with genetically-modified corn since more than 90% of the corn grown in the USA is estimated to be modified. Any manufacturer who can get hold of non-GM-corn is certainly going to be very proud and state this (and more importantly--prove it with 3rd party certifications).

Their GMO statement doesn't say anything about not using GM-corn as Clearjel's source. It only says that by the time their products go through processing, you can't detect any corn DNA in them. That doesn't make them truly GMO-free food products. Until they can prove that they use non-GM corn by getting USDA Organic certification or “Non-GMO Project” verification, Clearjel should be considered as being sourced from GMOs--regardless of whether corn DNA is present in the finished product or not.

I would definitely like to know whether these highly-processed foods, such as HFCS, are actually devoid of the GM-corn; therefore, theoretically not having the same detrimental effect on living organisms as the corn itself. I doubt it. I don't trust the Corn Refiner's Association to tell the truth. It would make me feel a lot better if that were true, but I'm not holding my breath and I won't be buying Clearjel anymore until they become certified GMO-free (which I can't see happening).

Btw, that Ingredion link for the GMO statement doesn't work; I had to find it in another way (they apparently changed their site around lately). This is the proper link:

http://sellyourcorn.ingredion.com/us_site1/SitePages/GMOStatement.aspx

Leigh said...

Debbie, thanks for the heads-up on the link. Considering I originally wrote this post about 2 & 1/2 years ago, I'm not surprised it's no longer working. Nor am I surprised that the new statement does not specifically mention Clearjel, which the old statement did.

Considering the research on GMOs that prove its health risks, it is worrisome that these products are being shoved down the public's throat whether they want them or not. Who can't help but wonder why. The saddest part is that neither the manufacturers nor our government really care about the public's best interests or the consumer's concerns. Rather, they redefine terms and continue to push these products on us. Very sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little frustrated about your site blocking right clicking. I do respect your copyright and only want to open one of your links in a new tab. I guess looking at the things you link to isn't really that important to me.

Leigh said...

Anonymous, all the links on my blog are coded to open in a new tab with left click. So unless you're trying to steal content, just left click to get there.

Myrhanda said...

Hi Leigh, just stumbled onto your site...really enjoy it! Normally I don't comment, but couldn't resist myself especially after reading the comments about GMO. I am in Canada, and that has become a growing concern here too, apparently the fungicides in these genetically modified foods are one of the reasons bees are being killed off in an alarming rate...the fungicides mix with any of the pesticides used in the crops and severally decrease bees abilities to fend off any diseases. Sad
Anyways i'm going off on a tangent...
I am curious as to how natural this clear gel is, or if you can recommend a recipe without any thickener in it? I personally have never heard of clear gel, and everything I have come across says to not use tapioca or cornstarch when canning.

Leigh said...

Myrhanda, thank you so much for your visit and your comment!

The more we learn about GMOs, the worse it gets. I remember canning pie filling years ago with flour as a thickener, but since then only Clear Gel has been recommended by the USDA. However, I recently got a comment on another post, offering a link to an alternative. I've never tried it so I can't recommend or even comment on it. I am interested in trying it myself. The link is here, Ultra Gel Versus Thick Gel. Both of these thickeners are said to be non-GMO as the article states. I think they are definitely worth looking in to.

Myrhanda said...

Thanks Leigh!

I'll definitely check that out, especially to see if we can get it here in Canada (can't see why not).

Courtney Bowers said...

There is an instant clear jel you can buy for sauces that you do not plan to cook or heat. they are labeled as such. check amazon