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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sima--Finnish lemon mead for May Day

Sima is the traditional drink of spring in Finland.  It is a lemonade that is made from whole lemons and brown sugar, then carbonated with yeast.  Drink it cold with funnel cakes, like they do in Finland on the first of May.

I have started the sima, but it isn't finished yet, it takes several days.  I'll post more photos later, but I wanted to go ahead and share the recipe so you can have it ready for the weekend, too!  I make several batches of this for my husband every year, it reminds him of home.

I based my recipe on Beatrice Ojakangas' the Finnish Cookbook.

First, boil 4 quarts (3.75 liters) of water.  While you wait for the water to boil, thinly slice two lemons.  Make sure and wash them well, and then slice them peel and all.  I use a mandonlin to slice them, it works really well and makes nice thin slices.  

When the water boils, stir in one cup (2 1/3 dl) of brown sugar and one cup (2 1/3 dl) of white sugar until they dissolve.  Remove the pan from the heat, then put in the lemon slices, making sure to get all of the juice.  Let this set for a couple of hours until it is lukewarm.

After the liquid cools to lukewarm, stir in 1/8 teaspoon of yeast.  This isn't much--don't add more or the mead will taste too yeasty!  The yeast is what carbonates the mead.  Let this sit overnight in a large non-metal bowl.

When it is ready, it should have small bubbles around the edges.  At this point, strain out the lemon slices and use a funnel to put it in bottles with a tight lid.  I reuse gallon water bottles or 2 liter seltzer bottles for this.  If you use bottles that had anything but water in them, be sure to clean and sterilize them well!

Into each bottle, put a couple of teaspoons of sugar and 4 raisins.  Close the lid tightly and let it stand at room temperature until the raisins rise to the top.  This could be anywhere from 8 hours to 2 days, depending on the room temperature.

When the raisins float, the sima is fermented (but not enough to be alcoholic) and ready to drink.  Store it in the refrigerator, and drink it cold.Publish Post

The pith (white part) from the lemon slices sometimes makes the sima taste a little too bitter for my kids--often when I make it I will zest and juice one of the lemons and slice the other (remember to zest the lemons before juicing--it is almost impossible to zest an empty lemon peel!).  The kids like it best if I zest both lemons then squeeze the juice, but this completely removes the characteristic bitter undertone.  Experiment and see what you like best!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. I left my "Finnish Cookbook" in Sudbury at my mom's. I wanted to make sima this weekend, albeit it's past May Day.