Ultra Gel and the Dysphagia Diet

Ultra Gel

We often wax poetic about all the ways in which Ultra Gel makes life in your kitchen easier, but one of the things that we’re most proud of is how friendly Ultra Gel is when it comes to special diets. There are a lot of health benefits we could talk about but today we wanted to focus on using Ultra Gel in the case of Dysphagia and with people on a dysphagia diet.

Dysphagia is a condition where someone has a problem with swallowing liquids at certain thicknesses. It can be a condition or the mouth or of the throat and is addressed in many ways depending on the particular case and your particular doctor. However, a very common part of dysphagia treatment is a specific dysphagia diet.

Most dysphagia diets often focus on foods which are non allergenic, balanced in fiber, and either thickened or pureed down to a consistency which can be easily swallowed.

While there are several thickeners for dysphagia on the market, they are often expensive and difficult to use without lumping or off flavors.

Ultra Gel is an ideal product to use in dysphagia cases because it is flavor free and easy to mix without lumping. Ultra Gel thickened products will stay thick longer and can be stored without break down. As well Ultra Gel is gluten free and processed without any exposure to major allergens. It thickens any liquid, hot or cold, to a controllable consistency so can be used with different foods and brought up to any of the standard thicknesses used in a dysphagia diet: nectar, honey and pudding. When used in pureed foods Ultra Gel helps the resulting puree to stay thick even when refrigerated or frozen for storage.

Ultra Gel Usage Sheet is a chart to refer to when working with different kinds of foods and liquids to get appropriate thickness for a dysphagia diet. We hit on some of the most common liquids, but for other liquids of similar thicknesses the thickening power of Ultra Gel will be similar. If you have any questions on using Ultra Gel we’re happy to help, though any specific medical advice should come from your doctor or dietician.

Moist Pumpkin Bread

One of my very favorite fall dishes is pumpkin bread. There’s just something about it which makes me feel like fall is actually here and the holidays right around the corner. The leaves start turning and sooner or later I have to make a few loaves. I started making pumpkin bread when I was a teenager after finding a recipe in a Celtic Cooking book which waxed poetic about the many festivities that featured various squash breads and walnuts. This always amused me because pumpkins, like many squashes, come from North America and wouldn’t have been used at that time, but I think someone just wanted to give the book flair, and the pumpkin bread recipe was pretty darn good.

The recipe I use now is a little more modern and uses Ultra Gel to help preserve the moisture and provide for a more tender crumb. I like this because it means the bread freezes even better than it did originally. It’s easy to make this bread in mini muffins or muffin sizes and freeze them now to have on hand for the holidays. I know there are times I really appreciate having a snack, or breakfast food on hand as the visitors start coming through. As well if you’re looking for a good gift for neighbors or to take to any holiday occasion this pumpkin bread can’t be beat.

Now, before I get to the pumpkin bread recipe, just a note about the last ingredient. It’s a general category called addins. Pumpkin bread is fantastic on its own, but it also works really nice with dried fruit, nuts or chocolate. So feel free to experiment in your kitchen and add upto three cups of complimentary flavors. I tend to stick to 1 to 2 types of additions, for instant mini chocolate chips and craisins, or just toasted pecans, or nuts in the batter and a drizzle of white chocolate on top. You get the idea. It’s fun to experiment and something you can involve younger chefs in planning too!

Moist pumpkin bread

Moist Pumpkin Bread

3 large eggs

2/3 cup unsalted butter or 1/3 cup unsalted butter and 1/3 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup sugar

4 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cup white wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (fresh ground is the bomb!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree

1 over ripe medium banana, mashed

3 cups add ins: dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, candied ginger, etc.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside. In a stand mixer combine eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Add Ultra Gel and beat until entirely incorporated. In another bowl combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add pumpkin and banana to the cream mixture. Add dried ingredients in three doses mixing until just combined each time. Do not over mix or the bread will be tough. Fold in add ins by hand. Divide batter filling each pan about 2/3rds full. Bake for 50-60 minutes and test with a toothpick inserted into the center. Bake additionally as needed depending on the size of your loaves. The more add ins in the batter the longer the total baking time. Once baked allow to cool for 10 minutes in pans before turning out and cooling fully before slicing. If you want to freeze loaves wrap air tight and freeze for upto three months.


Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut butter. What a lovely thing. A roasted, ground nut (technically a legume) full of good fats and is a good source of plant-based protein. Even better, according to the local news, as the price of other proteins continue to rise the price of peanut butter is dropping.

So this lead me to thinking about all the things I like peanut butter in. It’s great in a sandwich with one of Cornaby’s Low Sugar jams, or as the base for a lot of cookies. And, peanut butter bars with chocolate frosting is one of my favorite guilty pleasure. Thai food wouldn’t be the same without the peanut butter sauce. However, perhaps the pinnacle of peanut butter buttery is the peanut butter pie…or maybe that’s just the fall weather talking. It gets cold and crisp out there and I think pies. I can’t help myself and peanut butter pie is a decadent treat slightly off the beaten pie path.

When it comes to a Cornaby’s peanut butter pie we are referring to a pie with a chocolate cookie crust (can be homemade or purchased) and a very light and creamy center topped with chocolate pieces. I’ve also drizzled a peanut butter pie with peanut butter sauce in the past, but I found that was too much peanut butter to my chocolate. A chocolate drizzle works much better. The recipe here is for a 9 inch pie pan, but you can also very effectively make this pie in a 9×13 inch dripper pan. The biggest difference that makes is that the filling to crust ratio is more in favor of the crust and less to the filling. Either way it’s really yummy, fun for any seasonal party from Halloween, to Thanksgiving and Christmas! Choose a gluten-free crust, or omit the crust and you have a gluten-free dessert.

Remember to top with Ultra Gel Whipping Cream for the best stability in the fridge or on the counter!

peanut butter pie

Cornaby’s Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

1 (9 inch) chocolate cookie pie crust

1 (8 oz) pkg light cream cheese, softened

½ cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup powdered sugar

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp Ultra Gel

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups whipped cream (Ultra Gel recipe below)

Chocolate shavings or sauce

In a stand mixer, or with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and peanut butter until thoroughly combined. Add powdered sugar, salt, Ultra Gel and vanilla and beat until smooth. Fold in whipped cream and pour filling into prepared pie crust. Top with additional cream and chocolate shavings. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Ultra Gel Whipping Cream

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp Ultra Gel

Combine all ingredients and whip until thick and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

From the Mailbox: Ultra Gel Shelf Life and Storage

It’s a cold, rainy, September day here in Utah and so I decided it was a good time to address a couple of our most asked questions when it comes to storing Ultra Gel.

Ultra Gel

What is Ultra Gel?

For those who are new, Ultra Gel is a gluten free, non-GMO instant thickener made from a particular kind of corn called waxy maize. It can be added to hot or cold liquids for instant thickening which makes it good from everything from ranch dressing to gravy. Ultra Gel is fridge and freezer stable, meaning your products don’t turn into soup or harden up like a rock in the freezer or refrigerator. As well Ultra Gel is stable under high heats and thickens evenly which means it can safely be used for canning and storage and is approved by the Utah State Extension Service. Ultra Gel is known as a ‘magic mix in’ because just a little bit is so useful in so many situations from helping cookies to stay soft longer to making the perfect apple pie filling.

How long of a shelf life does Ultra Gel have?

This answer is for Ultra Gel itself and not products made from Ultra Gel, as those shelf lives vary. Ultra Gel itself has a very long shelf life. It doesn’t go rancid as there are no oils or fats in it and it does not break down quickly. Eventually (several years along) the thickening power of Ultra Gel can break down, but it is still safe to use. For absolutely best results, we advise rotating your Ultra Gel at least every five years, though properly stored it will remain usable for two to three times that long.

How do I store my Ultra Gel?

Because its water availability is so low Ultra Gel does not attract insects or vermin, and there are no oils so it will not go rancid. It is, however, very hygroscopic, which means Ultra Gel LOVES water. If it’s left in an open container it will actually start absorbing moisture from the air (even here in the desert!) and that top layer of starch will harden and get nasty, and open containers always invite cross contamination from dust or other items which could fall inside. So Ultra Gel should be stored in an air tight package. It’s even better if it can be kept in a dark, low moisture environment, but the key thing is keeping the air and the water out. It can be stored in containers from 5 gallon buckets down to zip lock bags, size doesn’t matter as long as it’s sealed.

If it happens that a container of Ultra Gel is left open you can recover. Simply remove the top layer of starch and discard. Anything under about the first 1/2 inch should be fine, as long as there hasn’t been a big contamination, IE: if water has been poured directly into the container or such you’ll likely have to throw it all out.

So there you go. Three things you may not have known about Ultra Gel. What is it? How long is Ultra Gel’s shelf life? And how do I store it?

Have more questions? Send them to us and we’ll get you answers!

Cornaby’s Apple Pie Bars and Perfect Pie Crust

When it comes to fruit filled pies there are many opinions about how much pie crust there should be in relationship to how much fruit filling. My sweet husband is a filling man. He wants a thick layer of fruit filling and enough crust to carry it along. I’m more of a middle ground girl. I want enough pie filling to be interesting but I hate it when all my fruit filling spills out of my crust because there’s not enough crust or the pie crust is too weak.

This is where apple pie bars, or other slab pies really, enter in. This recipe takes advantage of the Apple Pie Filling recipe we gave you a bit ago for a wonderful pie filling that bakes up perfectly, and uses Ultra Gel to help give tenderness and hold to a flaky, buttery crust. This recipe cooks very evenly and the resulting pieces keep the apple pie filling in place and are the perfect eat with one hand breakfast! For a lovely compliment try a little caramel ice cream or a poof of Ultra Gel Whipping Cream.

apple pie bars

Cornaby Apple Pie Bars

6 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup water, + a little as needed

2 quarts (4 -4.5 cups) apple pie filling

egg white

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and Ultra Gel, mix well. Add butter and shortening and cut into dry ingredients until the consistency of coarse meal. Add 3/4 cups ice water and toss until water is incorporated. Add additional water if necessary to bring dough together. Turn out and knead 5-10 times. Do not over knead. Split into two pieces and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

When cooled roll out the first piece of pie crust large enough to form to the bottom and sides of an 11×17 inch jelly roll pan. Transfer dough to pan and trim sides. Prepare top pie crust as bottom crust. Fill bottom with prepared apple pie filling, add top crust and crimp edges to seal (use a little water or milk if needed, but generally the dough sticks together really well). Whip egg whites to a froth and brush pastry surface. If desired sprinkle with coarse sugar or cinnamon sugar. Vent top crust by making decorative holes with a sharp knife. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until top begins to brown. Lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate anything that doesn’t get eaten the first night and serve cold for breakfast!

Canning with Ultra Gel and Thick Gel

I love this time of year when so many fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest! My kitchen is quickly filling up with things that need processing: tomatoes, squash, peaches, beans, apples. It just keeps coming! Not that I’m complaining, mind you. :)

So one of the big questions we get this time of year is how Ultra Gel and Thick Gel can be used in canning, and, even more specifically how they compare to products such as Clear Jel.

Clear Jel, like Ultra Gel and Thick Gel is a modified food starch. It has been on the market for many years and is often available through online resources and at Amish stores. However, many people find Clear Jel difficult to locate and hard to use, as well there is concerns about whether or not Clear Jel contains GMO products.

Now, backing up a bit, the first question when it comes to any of these products is: Why do I need to use modified food starch anyway? Can’t I use flour or cornstarch?

The problem you get with some traditional thickeners and methods is that they do not thicken canned goods evenly or consistently. Relying on only natural pectin, for example, means a different result with each batch of fruit, so you often end up cooking a canned product for a lot longer than you really want to, ending up with mushy fruit and loss of flavor and health benefits, in order to get your product to set. As well, pectin breaks down over time and products begin to weep and break apart so you’ll have some sections which are very juicy and some that are over thick.

When dealing with flour and cornstarch they do not thicken evenly, so the processing heat does not move through the bottle evenly and may or may not be able to kill all bacteria, yeasts and molds. As well you can see the same weeping and spotty thickness problems that you see with pectin.

Thick Gel and Ultra Gel are unique in the canning world because of how evenly they thicken products and because if their very high stability under acidic conditions, high heat, and their freeze/thaw stability. This allows for safe canning of items such as soups, sauce, pie fillings, jams and just about anything else which traditionally calls for Clear Jel, flour or cornstarch. These starches have been tested in commercial laboratories and are canning approved by the Utah State Extension service.

Thick Gel and Ultra Gel can be purchased through the Cornaby’s Website, or through Amazon. Locally they can be found at your local Associated Food Stores, Bosch Kitchen Centers and Harmons Food Stores.

Recipe Conversions: If recipes are given by weight instead of volume use the same weight of Thick Gel or Ultra Gel to Clear Jel.

1 Tablespoon Clear Jel=3/4 Tablespoon Thick Gel=2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 Tablespoon Thick Gel=2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Thick Gel apple pie filling

Canned Apple Pie Filling

Yield: 8 servings per quart

For one quart or one pie:

3 ½ cup blanched peeled and cored cooking apples sliced ¼” thick

¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (opt.)

½ cup cold water

¾ cup apple juice

2 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice

1 drop yellow food coloring (opt.)

3 Tablespoons Thick Gel OR 6 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

For seven quarts:

6 qts. blanched peeled and cored cooking apples sliced ¼” thick

5 ½ cup sugar

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg (opt.)

2 ½ cups cold water

5 cups apple juice

¾ cup bottled lemon juice

7 drops yellow food coloring (opt.)

1 cup Thick Gel OR 2 ½ cup Ultra Gel


Peel, core and slice apples; place in water containing ascorbic acid. Blanch no more than 2 quarts at a time for 1 minute in boiling water and keep warm.

Combine sugar, spices, water, apple juice, lemon juice and coloring in heavy 10-12 quart pan. Bring to a boil and gradually stir in Ultra Gel with a wire whisk – If using Thick Gel, combine listed Thick Gel with enough additional apple juice to form a thin slurry and whisk into boiling liquid. Cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Fold in drained apple slices. Fill jars, leaving ½” headspace. Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 35 minutes (sea level). Add five minutes processing time for elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet and ten minutes for elevations from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

Nutrition info/serving: 128 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat 33 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 30 g sugar, 0 g protein, 2 mg sodium

Cornaby Texas Sheetcake

If you look around there are a lot of versions of Texas Sheetcake floating around in family recipe books and on various cooking blogs. The similarity here is that the title refers to a rich, but tender from scratch chocolate sheetcake with chocolate frosting which has traditionally been served at many events from weddings to school lunch.

I have long loved this recipe, but I find that I love it even more after adding Ultra Gel to the mix. Because of altitude issue I previously always had to muck just a little with the flour to liquid ratio trying to get things right so the very center of this cake didn’t fall, but with the Ultra Gel to balance the liquid issues it comes out lovely every time! I topped my cake with the traditional chocolate frosting, then did some decorating with a little bit of left over raspberry mango buttercream which was a really fun contrast flavor. I’ve also baked the cake and topped it with raspberry jam and served it up with ice cream and that was a killer application too!

Keep an eye on this spot this weekend as we’ll be bringing our Labor Day edition of Canning secrets with Ultra Gel and Thick Gel, including replacing Clear Gel in your recipes and our killer apple pie filling recipe!

Cornaby Texas Sheetcake

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tbl Ultra Gel

2 cup butter

1 cup water

1/4 cup baking cocoa

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and Ultra Gel together and set aside. Combine butter, cocoa and water together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil (This can also be done in the microwave). Add butter mixture to the dry mixture and mix well. Add eggs, vanilla and butter milk and stir to combine. Pour into greased and floured jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until tests done. Cool and frost with your choice of toppings.

If you want to use this batter for cupcakes or a 9×13 dripper pan increase the baking soda to 2 tsp and the buttermilk to 3/4 cups.