Slow Cooker Pumpkin Barbecue Pulled Pork
Halloween is just around the corner and, for many, this means getting ready to do fun activities like carving jack-o-lanterns, which is a highly popular pastime for kids, as well as adults who are kids at heart. After creating your pumpkin masterpiece, you’ll be left with the “pumpkin guts,”1 — the goopy insides that you scoop out from the fresh pumpkin.
The good news is there are a lot of creative and delicious ways to save and recycle pumpkin guts. One trick is by transforming them into pumpkin puree. All you need to do is remove the seeds from the guts, then blend in a food processor until you have a smooth mixture.2 This puree can be used for plenty of recipes, like this slow cooker pumpkin barbecue pulled pork recipe by Megan Olson. If you have a slow cooker at home, this is the perfect dish to make for fall, or anytime you have a fresh pumpkin on hand.
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Barbecue Pulled Pork
- Add the coconut oil into the slow cooker and turn it on high.
While the slow cooker heats, sprinkle the pork roast with salt and pepper. Rub the salt and pepper into the roast with your hands, then place in the slow cooker.
Make the pumpkin barbecue sauce by mixing barbecue sauce, pumpkin purée, monk fruit sweetener, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika together in a bowl.
Pour the sauce over the pork roast.
- Cook on high for 2 1/2 hours.
- Once the pork is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred using two forks.
- Place the pork back in the slow cooker and cook for another 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Why Slow Cookers Are Becoming a Big Hit
Using a slow cooker is now becoming a popular trend, as people look for ways to elevate their dishes without spending too much time in front of a hot stove. Using a slow cooker may seem like a lot of work, but if done correctly, it’s actually quite economical and brings about a number of benefits. Here are a few examples, according to the Spruce Eats:3
- It gives a better distribution of flavors, thanks to the extended cooking time.
- Slow cooking reduces the risk of having scorched foods, due to the low temperatures used.
- This cooking method gives cheap but tough meats like chuck steaks and venison a more tender texture.
- This handy appliance uses less electricity than a standard oven. Many units are portable as well.
Remember that slow cookers rely on moist heat to cook food properly, so don’t be tempted to keep taking off the lid to check if your food is done. Doing so will allow the steam and heat to escape, meaning you have to increase the cooking time.4
Pumpkins Are a Great Fall Food
Did you know that in the early days, jack-o-lanterns were carved out of potatoes and turnips? It was only upon the arrival of Irish immigrants in the U.S. when people decided to use pumpkins as an ideal material for jack-o-lanterns, paving the way for this new Halloween tradition.5
Typically harvested in October,6 pumpkins are botanically classified as berries, although they are more popularly referred to as a vegetable. Despite having a hard outer shell, their inside is actually spongy, with a yellow-orange flesh. When you slice one open, you’ll see hundreds of oval seeds inside, which appear as green, light brown or white.7
Pumpkins are well-loved by many because of their versatile sweet flavor, which can be used for desserts like pies and cookies. It also goes well in savory dishes like stews and soups.8
Plus, pumpkins are chockfull of nutrients. They’re one of the most popular sources of the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene. Pumpkins also contain fiber, vitamin C and potassium. According to Medical News Today, the combination of these nutrients may help maintain cardiovascular health.9 You can read “What Are Pumpkins Good For?” to learn more about the many benefits of pumpkins.
Make Sure You Choose the Right Kind of Pork
The main ingredient of this recipe is pork. But despite being the most widely consumed meat in the world — accounting for more than 36% of the global meat intake, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)10 — you must buy pork with caution, mainly because of the many issues surrounding it.
Most of the pork consumed today comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which are connected with pollution and disease. For example, a study conducted in North Carolina University found that exposure to pig CAFO emissions led to symptoms such as headache, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, diarrhea and burning eyes.11
So, if you choose to eat pork, stay away from CAFO meats and purchase it from a trustworthy farmer who raises grass fed heritage breeds. Look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo as well, which ensures that the pork meets the grass fed standards of this organization. The standards of the AGA pastured pork require the animals to have a forage-based diet that comes from pasture. It also puts a premium on animal health and welfare, ensuring that the pigs are not fed antibiotics or given growth hormones.
One Final Reminder When Cooking This Dish
It is never recommended to cook frozen meat in a slow cooker, so make sure the pork is completely thawed before putting it in. This rule is applicable not just for pork, but for any type of meat. Cooking frozen meat in a slow cooker will lead to uneven cooking.12
- 1,2 Wide Open Eats, October 16, 2018, 1. Homemade Pumpkin Puree
- 3 The Spruce Eats, June 27, 2019, The Benefits of Slow Cooker Cooking
- 4,12 PennState Extension, March 16, 2016 Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker
- 5,6 History, June 10, 2019, Introduction
- 7 Kooperation Phytopharmaka, Pumpkin, Useful information about the plant
- 8 University of Illinois Extension, Growing Pumpkins
- 9 Medical News Today, January 5, 2018 Regulating blood pressure
- 10 FAO, November 25, 2014, Sources of Meat
- 11 Environ Health Perspect. 2005 May;113(5):567-76. Abstract