DEAR SUN SPOTS: Does molasses spoil? The gingerbread I made last week had an earthy, off taste that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.

— Naomi, no town

ANSWER: If you have any of that molasses left, smell it or just taste a small spoonful. There could be some mold in it. If it tastes OK but is more than a year old, you should probably toss it. It won’t make you sick, but it will lend the staleness of its flavor to your recipes and you don’t want that. The off taste could also come from old flour or spices that have lost their zip.

Unopened, molasses will keep for many years. Once opened, it should be kept in a cool, dark and dry place, or even in the refrigerator. Just get the sticky stuff back to room temperature before you attempt to pour it out of the container or you’ll be awfully frustrated. You have heard the saying, “Slower than molasses in January,” right?

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The U.S. Forest Service has provided a $600,000 grant to the Bethel Community Forest, bringing the community even closer to its goal to acquire and create this open space. The work is not yet done, however, and the local planning committee invites Bethel residents to join the effort. New donations will go twice as far, because the Betterment Fund has offered to match every dollar raised from the local community, up to $30,000.

The local community, in partnership with Mahoosuc Pathways, The Trust for Public Land, and the Northern Forest Center is working to protect 978 acres to create Bethel Community Forest — a new community-managed open space to be shared by all residents. The property, directly adjacent to Mahoosuc Land Trust’s Valentine Farm, will provide direct, legal access to the 2,400-acre Bingham Forest, create miles of new multiuse trails, bolster the area’s outdoor recreation economy, protect important working forestland and wildlife habitat, and improve access to a close-to-home outdoor space for all. The goal is to acquire the property by March 2019. Community members can give themselves the gift of a community forest this holiday season by donating at tpl.org/bethelcommunityforest or mailing a check to The Trust for Public Land, 30 Danforth St., Suite 106, Portland, ME 04102.

To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

— No name, no town

ANSWER: I’m so excited about this project! I hope everyone finds a way to get on board, either by volunteering, donating or both. Protecting these open spaces should be at the top of everyone’s list.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Regarding the Dec. 4 Sun Spots, I read that someone had canceled stamps and was looking for someone who could make use of them. I know an order of nuns that collects them and uses them to get supplies for their nursing home, etc. Could you please let me know how to reach the person who wrote? I have been away so I’m late in asking. Thank you.

— Doris, no town

ANSWER: Charlotte, the person who wrote in, didn’t give us contact information. Hopefully, she will read this and reach out to you through Sun Spots if she still has the stamps. Keep checking in!

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]

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