Sima (mead) A Finnish fermented sweet bubbly lemonade drink for May Day celebrations

Celebrate the arrival of warmer weather by preparing Finnish Sima this spring!  Sima is a a lightly fermented sweet bubbly lemonade served during May Day celebrations including the Finnish Vappu festival. In Finland, Vappu is one of Finnish’s biggest carnival-style festivals. The celebration begins on the evening of 30 April and continues to 1 May. 

Below is a recipe which takes 3 to 4 days.  It is worth the wait. It tastes sooooo good!


  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar plus sugar for bottles
  • 1/8 tsp. yeast
  • handful of raisins

Kitchen Utensils

  • A big pot
  • measuring cup
  • cutting board’
  • knife
  • potato peeler 


 First day

  1. Boil 4 cups of water to a steady boil.
  2. Add all the white and brown sugar into the container. Mix well until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  3. Wash the first lemon and slice it up.  Add the slices, too, into the pot of water.
  4. Wash the second lemon well. Use a lemon zester or a potato peeler to remove the outer yellow rind of the lemon in strips, being careful not to include the bitter white pith. Put the zest into the pot of water
  5. Add 4 cups of cold water so that the mixture is lukewarm for the yeast to activate. The yeast produces the carbonation. If unsure, 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.  
  6. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours or until surface begins to bubble slightly.  

 Second day

  1. We are ready to bottle the mixture. First add 5-6 raisins and 1 teaspoon of sugar to each bottle before you pour the sima in.  The drink will look cloudy.
  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.

Third or Fourth Day

  1. Finally, move the bottles to your refrigerator. The sima is ready, and should be served cold. Because of this, traditional sima is a fresh product that does not store for long.  It will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.
  2. Sima is usually accompanied by a munkki (donut), a tippaleipä (a special Vappu funnel cake) or a rosetti (rosette). Besure to check out our rosette recipe too!

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