DEAR SUN SPOTS: Back on Nov. 30 the Sun Journal generously did a story on Boy Scout Troop 121 and our fundraiser of collecting Christmas trees in the city of Auburn. Unfortunately, the response has not been as great as we hoped.

Now that Christmas is over and residents will be taking down their trees, we are looking for a way to get the word out about our fundraiser.

Auburn will not be picking up discarded Christmas trees again this year. For a minimum donation of $5, Troop 121 will pick up your discarded tree on Jan. 5.

You can request a tag for pickup online at or you can send your donation, along with your name, address and phone number to Troop 121, United Methodist Church, 439 Park Ave., Auburn, ME 04210.

Donations must be received by Jan. 3. Your support is greatly appreciated. — Don Malpass, Scoutmaster, [email protected]

ANSWER: Since time is short, an online response or a call to the church, 782-3972, may be advisable.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am responding to the Dec. 14 letter from the woman who was concerned that her garlic press was turning black and wondering where she can find one that doesn’t.

I have had a Pampered Chef one for years, and mine is still the original color. I happen to be a consultant, so if she is interested she can go to my website:

By the way, I have had the press way longer than I have been a consultant. — Tammy Thatcher [email protected]

DEAR SUN SPOTS: This summer I made some rhubarb-pineapple jam. All jars sealed. Within a week nine jars unsealed.

I have made jam for years, and this is the first time the jars unsealed. I used new lids. Do you or readers have any idea why this happened?

Thank you for finding answers to so many inquiries. It’s great. — No Name, No Town

ANSWER: Sun Spots does not know anything about canning, but she came across the following list of reasons for unsealing at

* A chip on the rim of the jar.

* Failure to follow manufacturer’s directions for preparing flats.

* Presence of food particles on jar rim. Always wipe rim clean before putting on lids.

* Leaving too little headspace, letting pressure in pressure canner fluctuate, or lowering the pressure too suddenly.

* In all of these cases, food particles may be forced between the jar and lid, causing sealing failure.

* Leaving too much headspace may prevent sealing because the processing time was not long enough to exhaust all the air from the inside of the jar.

* Not removing air bubbles can have the same effect as leaving too much headspace.

* Putting screwbands on too tightly.

* Tightening screwbands after removing jars from canner.

* Reusing lids. Use flat metal lids only once.

* Defective lids.

* Using commercial or one-trip jars, such as for mayonnaise, peanut butter, or baby food. These jars have slightly different sizes of sealing edges and are not recommended for home canning.

Readers may have other tips or suggestions.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Would the lady in Sabattus to whom my husband, Sam, sent his vegetarian baked bean recipe to be kind enough to send a copy to me. I would be forever grateful. Thank you. — Mary-Anne Kittredge, 28 Park St., Wilton, ME 04294

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]