Cookbook:Sima (Finnish Lemon Mead)

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Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Beverages | Cuisine of Finland

Sima (Finnish Lemon Mead)
Servings 8 litres
Time About 30 minutes preparation + 4 days fermentation

Sima is a Finnish, lemon-flavored mead mostly consumed during the celebrations of the 1st of May. A glass of sima is traditionally accompanied by a funnel cake or sugar coated donut.

The purpose of the fermentation is mainly to make the drink bubbly; the alcohol content of traditionally prepared sima is only 0.5-0.8%. As the drink is meant to be consumed in reasonable quantities anyway, a glass of sima is generally considered suitable for children over five years of age.[1]

Variation I – Traditional SimaEdit

First gather your equipment. You will need a container large enough to hold all of the sima (a big plastic bucket for example) and empty bottles, their number and size depending on how much sima you are going to make. Plastic soda bottles are recommended as pressure can build up in the bottles. An exploding plastic bottle is less dangerous than an exploding glass bottle. You will also need a funnel for bottling.

You should sterilize all of your equipment. A thorough process is described in the mead recipe. However, as the fermentation time of sima is very short (only a few days) and it is usually consumed within a week or so, just washing the bucket and bottles well and then rinsing them with boiling water right before using is generally enough to prevent spoiling.



First dayEdit

Time: 20 minutes + sterilization of equipment

  1. Boil 4 litres of water.
  2. Wash the lemons well and peel the zest, being careful not to include the bitter white pith. Put the zest into your container.
  3. Slice the lemons and remove the white pith from around the slices. Add the slices, too, into the container.
  4. Add all the sugar into the container with the lemons.
  5. Pour the boiling water on top, and mix well until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  6. Add 4 litres of cold water so that the mixture will be lukewarm, the right temperature for the yeast to activate. If unsure, check with a thermometer, the temperature should be between 35°C and 45°C. When the temperature is right, add the yeast. One way is to take a small cup of the mixture from the container, dissolve the yeast in it and then mix it back. Just dropping a crumb of fresh yeast into the container will also work.
  7. Let it stand overnight in room temperature.

Second dayEdit

Time: 15 minutes + sterilization of equipment

  1. Bottle it on the next day: add one spoonful of sugar and a few raisins to each bottle before you pour the sima in.
  2. After bottling, let the bottles stand at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2 more days. The raisins will bloat up and float to the surface.
  3. Finally, move the bottles to your refrigerator. The sima is ready, and should be served cold. It will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Notes, tips and variationsEdit

  • For a simpler process, just squeeze in the juice of one or two lemons instead of removing the pith.
  • You may use 1 kg of brown sugar instead of mixing white and brown, to make a darker sima with a stronger brown sugar flavour.
  • All the sugar may optionally be replaced with 1kg honey.
  • You can put the bottled sima into the refrigerator immediately. This will cause the fermentation to be slower; the sima will be ready in approximately 5-7 days.

Variation II – Quick SimaEdit

This slightly less traditional recipe, optimized for simplicity and short preparation time, makes it easier to try making sima: the only equipment needed are a 3 litre open container (a saucepan or small bucket perhaps), a 2 litre soda bottle and a funnel. The result is still undoubtably sima.

Making two litres at a time is very fast and a good way to practice without fear of losing a large batch to an error. On the first day it takes only about as long as it takes for the water to boil, and on the second day the bottling can be done in five minutes. Making a new small batch every 2-3 days lets you drink fresh sima daily without worrying about it spoiling, and takes hardly any time at all.



First dayEdit

Time: 10 minutes

  1. Boil 1–2 litres of water.
  2. While the water is boiling, wash your container and squeeze the juice from the lemon into a glass.
  3. Set aside 1 litre of hot water for the sima. Rinse the container with the rest to sterilize.
  4. Put 250 grams of brown sugar and the juice of one lemon into a container holding at least 3 litres.
  5. Pour 1 litre of hot water onto the sugar and lemon juice and mix until sugar dissolves.
  6. Add 1 litre of cold water.
  7. Add a very small amount of yeast (up to a quarter teaspoon).
  8. Let it stand overnight.

Second dayEdit

Time: 5 minutes

  1. Wash a 2 litre soda bottle and rinse it with boiling water.
  2. Add a teaspoon of sugar into the bottle and a few raisins if you want to.
  3. Pour the sima into the bottle with a funnel.
  4. Leave in a dark place in room temperature for 2 days.
  5. Move the bottle into the refrigerator; the sima is ready.


  1. "Annatko lastesi juoda simaa? – ”Hyvä tiedostaa juoman alkoholipitoisuus”". Ilta-Sanomat. 14 April 2015.