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The Difference Between Clear Jel & Sure-Jel

 I have a recipe that calls for Clear Jel. I have never seen it in the store. It is a recipe for canned apple pie filling. Is it anything like Sure-Jell? Could I use the Sure-Jell in place of the Clear Jel?

 Clear Jel is a commercial thickener, composed of a modified corn starch. It comes in a couple of versions, including one that sets up and thickens best in uncooked instant foods and another that works best in cooked foods. With the instant version, you combine it with an equal amount of sugar, stir it thoroughly into your food, and wait about 10 minutes for it to attain maximum thickness. The cooked version is mixed with cold water before being added to your recipe. Clear Jel is used in instant puddings, gravies, and pie fillings, and can be used to replace corn starch, flour, or tapioca as a thickener.

Sure-Jell is a natural fruit pectin used in making jams and jellies that allows you to use approximately one-quarter less sugar than you normally would, and still produce a jam that sets up nicely.

Given the two versions of Clear Jel available, we're not clear on why it is specified in your recipe. Are you meant to make a thickened uncooked apple pie filling, before canning it and processing it in a hot water bath, so that you don't cook it before you can it, cook it again in the hot water bath, and cook it a third time in the apple pie itself? That does sound like a recipe for applesauce pie. And it seems like the most likely reason to us that the recipe calls for Clear Jel.

And is the recipe writer concerned that if you add a traditional thickener — flour, corn starch, tapioca, etc., — to the mix without cooking it before putting it in canning jars, that it will set up badly, or become lumpy, or not set up at all when you process it in the hot water bath? If that's the case, the Sure-Jel, which also requires cooking to thicken, would not be a help.

Our recommendation is either to try the instant Clear Jel or make a test batch with a thickener that you are familiar with. Mix it in without cooking or with minimal cooking, process it in a hot water bath, and then see what you've come up with. The conversion ratio for Clear Jel is as follows:

  • 1 Tbsp of cornstarch=1-1/2 Tbsp of Instant Clear Jel
  • 2 Tbsp flour or tapioca=1 Tbsp Instant Clear Jel

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