Sima, or mead, is a classic sweet drink brewed for the 1st of May around these parts. In Finland they call the day Vappu, and it’s a day of general merriment and drunkenness (I may have talked about it before … several times). Sima, however, is not really alcoholic. It’s just very lightly fermented sugar water and it’s delicious.
Having just decided that it will be funny to explain Finnish stuff from the perspective of a know-it-all foreigner, and having come up with a perfect bilingual title for it, I figured where better to start than with sima? This way, you can all get your batch started in the next week or so, and we can share Vappu pictures on May 1st!
Of course, in the spirit of true mansplaining, ulkomaansplaining hinges on me not really being an expert, and getting all the information from a source from whom I steal the credit. Since this is meant to be funny instead of gittish, though, it will come as no surprise that this information comes from Mrs. Hatboy, who has adapted a classic recipe. While I generally make the sima each year, I do so with her express instructions.
I hear it’s also traditional to preface a recipe with a lot of pointless self-serving jabber like this.
You will need:
- 4 liters water
- 300 grams plain sugar
- 300 grams brown sugar
- A bit more plain sugar for luck
- 1/4 packet of raisins
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon of fresh yeast
- A root of fresh ginger
- A bunch of empty plastic bottles, screw-top coke bottles will do
Step the first: Rinse the lemons and slice them thinly. Peel and slice the ginger even thinlier.
Step the second: Put the lemons, ginger and sugar into a big container (we make a double batch in a 10-litre bucket).
Step the third: Boil a bit of water and stir it into the bucket so the sugar all melts.
Step the fourth: Add the rest of the water, keeping an eye on the temperature. It should be 36°C. Either let it cool or add a bit of boiling water until you reach the right temperature. We use a baby bath thermometer.
Step the fifth: Take a bit of the warm water in a glass and mix in the yeast, then pour it in with the rest.
Step the sixth: Cover with cling wrap and leave in room temperature for a day.
24 hours later, your brew should be a tad frothy and smell of … well, of yeast.
Step the seventh: Take your bottles and pour a spoonful of plain sugar (that’s additional sugar, yes) and a few raisins into each bottle.
Step the eighth: Strain the lemons and ginger from your liquid and ladle it into the bottles. Funnels are your friend.
Caution: Don’t fill the bottles all the way up, and use plastic bottles for safety. There have been stickysplosions.
Step the ninth: Put caps on the bottles and store them in the fridge.
4 or 5 days later, your sima is ready to drink. If it feels like the bottles are collecting too much pressure you can unscrew the caps a little now and then. When the sima goes psst and the raisins float to the surface like drowned students in a city fountain, you’re there.