Cookbook:Traditional Finnish Lemon Mead (Sima)

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Traditional Finnish Lemon Mead (Sima)
Servings8 litres
TimeActive time: 30 minutes
Fermentation: 4 days

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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]




  • Container large enough to hold all of the sima (a big plastic bucket for example)
  • Empty bottles
  • Funnel



First day

  1. 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.
  2. Boil 4 litres of water.
  3. Wash the lemons well and peel the zest, being careful not to include the bitter white pith. Put the zest into your container.
  4. Slice the lemons and remove the white pith from around the slices. Add the slices into the container.
  5. Add all the sugar into the container with the lemons.
  6. Pour the boiling water on top, and mix well until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Let it stand overnight in room temperature.

Second day

  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. 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 variations

  • For a simpler process, just squeeze in the juice of 1–2 lemons instead of removing the pith.
  • You may use 1 kg 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 1 kg honey.
  • You can put the bottled sima into the refrigerator immediately instead of fermenting overnight at room temperature. This will cause the fermentation to be slower; the sima will be ready in approximately 5–7 days.
  • 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.


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