The results tonight were alot better than the first attempt. The pumpkin was definitely a lot sweeter and there was no after taste at all so I think blanching definitely makes a difference in keeping the flavour. One thing to remember though - Depending on how you plan to cook your pumpkin after freezing, make sure you cut your pumpkin to size. Smaller pieces will cook almost instantly so it is better to cut them in larger sections. I cut my pumpkin into 2cm cubes and roasted in the oven with chicken drumsticks and other vegies. I could probably have waited until the last 15 mins or so before putting them in because they almost turned to mush when trying to pick them up with the tongs. Even so, they were still delicious! And I know next time I will definitely be blanching my vegies before freezing them :-)
Tonight I used the frozen raw pumpkin in a roast meal. The results were mixed. While it was still sweet and cooked well, the texture seemed slightly stringier than usual. My partner proclaimed that it tasted perfect, but then he will eat almost anything. The children on the other hand weren't quite convinced. My 4 year old daughter actually scraped her pumpkin onto my plate and said it tasted yuck lol. My children are definitely my harshest critics,I admit it did have a slightly different after taste but I'm not sure if that was a result of freezing in general or just because it was frozen raw. I'm hoping our next meal with the blanched frozen pumpkin will have a better result!
Today, I decided to freeze some of our excess pumpkin. If you are a small family like we are and are trying to grow your own vegies you will find, especially with pumpkins, that it is easy to end up with more than you can consume. Pumpkin can be left on the vine until late autumn to dry but I wouldn't leave it any later as frost and soggy damp ground could cause them to rot. If you have a dry warm spot to dry them, under a porch for example, they should last for a long time but when you go to cut open that extra large pumpkin and only need to use 1/4 of it, you may find that it starts to deteriorate quickly if you can't use it up in the right amount of time. This is the situation I am in today. I have blanched pumpkin once before for freezing but the one big mistake I made was packing it into the freezer bag too tightly so that when I went to use it again, I was having to hack away at it with a sharp knife to break some off. Not something you want to be attempting!
This time around I took half a large pumpkin, which was from my best pumpkin out of our summer garden, and removed the inner core (I put the seeds aside for another use). Then I cut it into even square sized chunks of roughly 2cm. I divided the chunks in half so I could experiment with two different techniques for freezing. Half of the pumpkin pieces, I left uncooked then spread evenly in a glass baking dish with the skins still on and into the freezer to snap freeze for 30 mins.
With the second lot of pumpkin cubes, I removed the skins for blanching. To blanch them, I brought a large pot of water to the boil and added the pumpkin pieces, letting them boil uncovered for 3 mins. Then, I removed them from the boiled water and plunged them straight into another large pot of ice cold water. Let them sit for a few minutes and then drain. Once they had cooled I placed them on the glass dish and into the freezer to snap freeze for 30 mins. I found that doing this prevents them from sticking together while they are still wet and then you won't have to try and chip away at a large block of pumpkin ice later. Once they are snap frozen you can place the pieces in a freezer bag and tie closed. Remember not to squeeze the bag too tightly closed though or they might still stick together. I have never tried freezing raw pumpkin before so I will be using pumpkin from each batch to see what the differences are in storing, cooking, texture and flavour.
I will let you all know soon how they turned out :-)