Particularly used in the food industry, Clear Jel is the trade name for a type of modified corn starch manufactured by National Starch Company. It's used as a thickener in sauces, ice creams and pie fillings. It works similarly to corn starch, tapioca flour and arrowroot flour. It's pretty hard to find in regular grocery stores but once you find out more about it you may choose to track it down and add it to your ingredient arsenal.
Benefits of Clear Jel include:
- High and low temperature tolerance
- Works well with acidic ingredients, unlike corn starch
- Doesn't separate during food storage
- Extremely neutral taste
- Doesn't cloud food excessively
Drawbacks of Clear Jel include:
- Relatively expensive compared to other thickeners
- Tends to break down if frozen then thawed
Clear Jel comes in two variants: Regular Clear Jel and Instant Clear Jel.
Regular Clear JelRegular Clear Jel needs to be cooked with a liquid in order to thicken. This is the type of Clear Jel to use if you're making pie fillings, sauces and gravies. In fact, Regular Clear Jel is the only thickener recommended by the USDA for use in the making of home pie filling. This is because it doesn't begin to thicken until the liquid begins to cool, thus increasing the level of safety.
Instant Clear JelInstant Clear Jel has already been pre-cooked and should be lump-free when it's combined with the dry ingredients as opposed to the wet . Once added to your recipe it only needs about 10 minutes to reach full thickness which can be a real time saver because you don't have to heat up liquid and cook it down like you do with other starch-based thickeners. Instant Clear Jel works great for uncooked foods like syrups, drinks and frozen desserts. Instant Clear Jel is not recommended for pie fillings.
Substitutions: 3 Tablespoons Instant Clear Jel = 3 Tablespoons corn starch or 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or 1/4 cup tapioca flour.
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