As served at check 3 on Run 1235 (1 May 2012) by Insatiable Thirst.

Sima - Finnish May Day Drink - Pronounced 'See-Mah'



Traditional sima - recipe from

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.


8 liters of water
500g of brown sugar - 2 1/2 cups
500g of white sugar - 2 1/2 cups
2-3 lemons
1/4 tsp yeast (ordinary baker's yeast, either fresh or dry)
handful of raisins

First day
Time: 20 minutes + sterilization of equipment

Boil 4 liters (17 cups) of water. 
Wash the lemons well and peel the zest, being careful not to include the bitter white pith. Put the zest into your container.
Slice the lemons and remove the white pith from around the slices. Add the slices, too, into the container.
Add all the sugar into the container with the lemons.
Pour the boiling water on top, and mix well until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
Add 4 liters 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.
Let it stand overnight.

Second day
Time: 15 minutes + sterilization of equipment

Bottle it on the next day: add one spoonful of sugar and a few raisins to each bottle before you pour the sima in.
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.
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.

other recipe sources: (says raisins will take 3-7 days to rise to top) it will be ready to drink after one week or two!)

IT notes: I used water bottles so didn't use too much boiling water in them as the plastic rapidly shrank - just put a little bit in and shook it around well. Raisins rose to the top just half a day after bottling so was not particularly effective as a sign of sima being ready. I left half of the bottles out of the fridge for the two day resting period and put the rest in. Didn't seem to make much of a difference.