I just added this as a comment in the blog post on fruit pie thickeners, but I’m so excited about my new discovery that I wanted to share it here too. Since Rose has designed July as Pie Month, I’m hoping she can weigh in on this when she returns from vacation.
Fruit pies are my favorite dessert and I love to bake ‘em, too, but have always been plagued by the thickener problem. No matter what thickener I used (cornstarch, arrowroot, tapioca, flour), any fruit pie that was thick enough not to “run” when cut always tasted too much like the thickener itself (or was gluey).
Now I think I’ve hit on the perfect solution. Here’s a fresh peach pie I made yesterday. You can still see the individual peach slices, it didn’t run, and it tasted like pure peach heaven—the best peach pie I ever made, no question:
And the big revelation was that I used a thickener designed to be used in home canning, which I discovered a couple of years ago when I first got into canning and preserving garden fruits and vegetables.
It’s called Clear Jel, and I first learned about it from the USDA book on home canning. They recommended using it when canning fruit pie fillings, because it doesn’t break down when re-heated (i.e., when the canned fruit filling is used in a pie).
As I understand it, it has the same chemical makeup as cornstarch, but is somehow processed differently to prevent its breakdown when heated.
But the big bonus is that I could NOT taste thickener at all in the pie!
I tried it on a whim in this pie because I had just bought some for this summer’s canning. I think it’s destined to become my fruit pie thickener of first choice. (I used 3 tablespoons of it in the pictured pie, and these were VERY juicy peaches. And that pie dish is 10-1/2 inches wide and 2-1/2 inches deep… a BIG pie!)
I live in a small town and couldn’t find it anywhere locally, and wound up getting it through mail order. I got mine from Kitchen Krafts, but a Google search would probably reveal other sources. Or if you’re in a metro area you might find it in specialty shops.