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"Ok Jack, time for your lobotomy!" That Calvin and Hobbes quote comes to mind this time each year. But there are a few crucial things to remember before you start the lobotomy work.

When shopping for a pumpkin, look for the following:

  • Firm, smooth skin
  • At least one even face to make carving easier
  • A green stem, not a brown or rotting one (and never lift it by the stem)
  • A heavy feel for its size
  • No bruises, soft spots, or lacerations on the skin--it will rot from those spots
  • If your carved pumpkin starts to shrivel, you can revive it by giving it a bath in ice water for an hour or so (a cooler or bathtub both work fine for this). Lightly spray the cut surface of your pumpkin with vegetable oil to prevent moisture loss.

Got all the equipment? If you've really got it together, you'll be armed with a spoon, Sharpie, vaseline, and carving saws. Read all about the essential tools here.

Brush up on your carving skills in these two guides:

Video: How to Prepare a Pumpkin for Carving

[Video: Jessica Leibowitz]

Before you start jabbing that poor gourd with a knife, watch this video from Kenji's Knife Skills series.

If your carved pumpkin starts to shrivel, you can revive it by giving it a bath in ice water for an hour or so (a cooler or bathtub both work fine for this). Lightly spray the cut surface of your pumpkin with vegetable oil to prevent moisture loss.

Now, may the carving begin!

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