About Instant Clearjel®
Written by Sharon Anne Hill, http://sharealikecooking.com
INSTANT CLEARJEL is a modified corn starch, manufactured (precooked) used to thicken recipes.
How to Use: For clumpless-smooth results, it is best when first combined with dry ingredients, before adding liquid. It will begin to swell or thicken as soon as it is added to water, milk or juices; it will impart a smooth, short texture when fully hydrated, reaching its full thickness within 5–10 minutes (without requiring any cooking). Instant Clearjel can be used in cooking as well. The viscosity will increase slightly upon heating. It has excellent heat and acid resistance and can be used in acid containing foods and in those applications where heating is required. It has good cold temperature storage stability, making it particularly well suited for refrigerated and frozen foods.
Production of Instant Clearjel®
Instant Clearjel is a product manufactured by Ingredion, http://www.ingredion.com, for commercial use. The product line (and others) is not normally sold directly the public within grocery stores. Instead, the manufacturer sells it to distributors and wholesalers.
Buying Instant Clearjel®
Instant Clearjel similar products are fortunately easily available ONLINE, and (often) found locally in specialty cooking shops and Restaurant Food Supply stores. You can even try calling your local state extension service for help locating a local store near you.
Instant Clearjel® Variations
INSTANT ClearJel: ICJ is the "grand-daddy" modified food starch and has been on the market since the 1940s. Note "instant" refers to how fast it thickens, NOT how easily it disperses. Always combine with dry ingredients for clumpless, smooth results.
REGULAR ClearJel: (sometimes) sold as ClearJel A, is a variety of starch that always requires cooking to thicken, and recommended for canning pie filling. Combine first, with dry ingredients, for clumpless-smooth results.
ULTRA-Sperse: A generic term for the quicker dispersing variety of modified food starch, and sold under different brand names... EZ-Gel (formerly called Ultra-Gel), Ultra-Set or Maxi-Gel. Each thickens with or without cooking, and take roughly 5 minutes to reach their full thickening power; so give them that much time!
Each has about 50% the thickening power of Instant ClearJel, thus you'd need twice as much for similar results as ICJ in a recipe, plus they're more expensive than ICJ.
The convenience of ULTRA-Sperse, it can be simply sprinkled into the dish, and then whisked in to thicken with the other ingredients with a fork (for little to no clumping). Remember though... convenience always has it's price. Still, I ALWAYS have Ultra-Sperse on hand, it's great for a little thickening boost to perhaps any homemade spaghetti sauce, chili or soup recipe.
Cooking With Instant Clearjel®
Instant ClearJel (ICJ) is a wonderful thickener modified food starch, particularly best known for thickening commercially baked pies.
ICJ provides great to excellent, economical, clear and thick results in many types of recipes, prepared cold or heated. It's called "Instant" because is swells and gels instantly, when it comes in contact with any liquid. When added improperly, it will gel in clumps, so it is very BEST when added with other dry ingredients (i.e. sugar or powdered milk) before stirring in any liquids. It can also be blended in nicely with an immersion blender or food processor, when not using dry ingredients, as in a fruit sauce.
More Tips: How to Use Instant ClearJel
One-Tbsp Instant ClearJel thickens one-cup of liquid. Add ICJ to the dry ingredients (such as powdered milk, sugar or flour, even spices) or blend as specified above, with an immersion blender (or food processor) for purees.
Substitutions in recipes: 3 tablespoons Instant ClearJel = 3 tablespoons cornstarch OR 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour OR 1/4 cup tapioca flour
ICJ offers an excellent, long-term, chilled stability and texture. Good long-term stability when boiled, but can break down (if heated to boiling for a long time and then stored, such as in processed jams). Not preferred for gravies and tomato sauces. Adds little to no flavor, you taste just the main ingredient.
ICJ has several advantages over other common thickeners (i.e. cornstarch, flour or potato starch and much less expensive than arrowroot). It has a more neutral flavor, so it's a good thickener for delicately flavored liquids. It also thickens without cooking and tolerates acidic ingredients. While sauces thickened with the other thickeners turn into a spongy mess if they're frozen, whereas sauces made with Instant ClearJel can be frozen and then thawed.
Storing Instant Clearjel®
The manufacturer recommends storing Instant Clearjel for up to 2 years, yet when kept dry, it will store virtually indefinitely.
Instant Clearjel® Nutrition
Any "refined food" definitely lacks adequate nutritional value, think of Instant Clearjel as having the same nutritional value as basic cornstarch. However, adding Instant ClearJel is healthier though the REDUCTION of [extra sugar and/or fat] - otherwise required for thickening - and/or absorption - within your recipes - through traditional thickening methods. So do consider those nutritional benefits, by using Instant ClearJel [instead] as your thickening agent!
Instant Clearjel® Recipes
Freezer Jam: Combine 3-Tbsp Instant Clearjel with 2-cups sugar, before adding to 5 cups crushed fruit and add 1 Tbsp corn syrup and then 1 Tbsp lemon juice. (For a great jam, that's lower in sugar; less sugar, reduces calories!)
Breads: Add 2 tsp Instant Clearjel (per 3 cups flour). Adding ICJ retains the natural moisture in baked goods, extending the shelf life of the end product. Here's a GREAT hint, when adding Instant Clearjel, you can actually REDUCE up to half the fat in most bread recipes, and still have a very tender loaf. (Reducing the fat content, also reduces calories!)
Soft, Chewy Cookies: Substitute (all or part) of the shortening with real butter. Use 1 tsp ICJ (per 1-cup flour) for cookies that can rival bakery-shop cookies. Homemade cookies many with butter usually spread out flat, but when ICJ is added to flour, dropped cookies maintain a nice shape and cut-out cookies roll out beautifully (pre-chilling is NOT necessary)!
For recipes using Instant ClearJel & additional HELPFUL TIPS, visit Sharon Anne's cooking blog at http://sharealikecooking.com. Follow her on PINTEREST at https://www.pinterest.com/sharonannemail on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sharealikecooking/ You can Follow & LIKE her on the NEW FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/sharealikecooking/