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Sima

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 February 2010 at 13:35
This traditional lemon mead from Finland is easy, it tastes great and it's a fun way to involve yourself in a tradition from another land. 

Here's the recipe, along with step-by-step photos and random (hopefully-helpful) notes that I've taken as I have learned more about this mead over the past few years:

Quote Sima
Traditional Lemon-Flavored Mead from Finland
 
From Time-Life's: Foods of the World - The Cooking of Scandinavia, 1968:
 
 
2 large lemons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 quarts boiling water
1/8 tsp. yeast
5 tsp. sugar
15 raisins

With a small, sharp knife or rotary peeler, carefully peel off the yellow skins (zest) and set them aside; then cut away the white membranes of the lemons and discard them. Slice the lemons very thinly.

In a 6- to 8-quart enameled or stainless steel bowl, combine the lemon slices, lemon zest and the two sugars. pour the boiling water over the fruit and sugar, stir and let the mixture cool to tepid; then stir in the yeast. Allow the sima to ferment, uncovered, at room temperature for about 12 hours.

To bottle, use five 1-quart bottles with very tight covers or corks. Place one teaspoon of sugar and three raisins in the bottom of each bottle. Strain the sima through a sieve and, using a funnel, pour the liquid into the bottles. Close the bottles tightly and let them stand at room temperature one to two days, until the raisins have risen to the surface. Chill the sealed bottles until ready to serve.

More on sima from WikiPedia:
 
Quote Sima is a sweet mead, still an essential seasonal, sparkling brew connected with the Finnish Vappu festival. It is usually spiced by adding both the flesh and rind of a lemon. During secondary fermentation raisins are added to control the amount of sugars and to act as an indicator of readiness for consumption — they will swell by absorbing carbon dioxide and rise to the top of the bottle when the drink is ready. Sima is usually accompanied by munkki (a donut), tippaleipä (a special Vappu funnel cake) or rosetti (a rosette).

Ingredients for sima include Lemon, sugar, active dry yeast, and raisins. The concoction of water and the lemon and sugars are mixed, boiled , and cooled to room temperature (25'C or 75'F). The yeast is added and the mixture left to stand overnight. The sima will be ready to drink when the raisins rise to the top of the bottles, about 3-7 days depending on the temperature of the room where they are stored. It is usually served chilled.

Regarding the Vappu festival:
 
Quote Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) is a traditional religious holiday of pre-Christian origin, celebrated today by Christian as well as non-Christian[citation needed] communities, on April 30 or May 1 in large parts of Central and Northern Europe.[1]

The current festival is, in most countries that celebrate it, named after Saint Walpurga, born in Devon about 710. Due to the coincidence of her holy day falling on the same day as the pagan holiday on which it was based, her name became associated with the celebrations. Walpurga was honored in the same way that Vikings had celebrated spring and as they spread throughout Europe, the two dates became mixed together and created the Walpurgis Night celebration. Early Christianity had a policy of 'Christianising' pagan festivals so it is perhaps no accident that St. Walpurga's day was set to May 11....

Historically Walpurgisnacht is derived from various pagan spring customs. Bonfires were built to keep away the dead and chaotic spirits that were then widely believed to walk among the living.[2] This is followed by the return of light and the sun as celebrated during May Day, although bonfires and witches are more closely associated with Easter (especially in Ostrobothnia, Finland) and bonfires alone with midsummer in the rest of Finland.

Saint Walpurga was a niece of Saint Boniface and, according to legend, daughter of St. Richard, a Saxon prince. She travelled with her brothers to Franconia, Germany, and became a nun in the convent of Heidenheim, Bavaria, which was founded by her brother Willibald. Shortly after moving the mortal remains of her brother,[3] Saint Winibald, Walpurga died of an illness on 25 February 779. She is therefore listed in the Roman Martyrology under 25 February. So that she might be buried beside Willibald, her relics were transferred on 1 May, and this date remains associated with her in the Finnish and Swedish calendars....[3][4]

In Finland, Walpurgis day (Vappu) is, along with New Year's Eve and Juhannus, the biggest carnival-style festival held in the streets of Finland's towns and cities. The celebration, which begins on the evening of April 30 and continues to May 1, typically centers on copious consumption of sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages....One tradition is drinking homemade sima (mead) (whose alcohol content varies) along with freshly cooked doughnuts.

In my research, I came across several recipes for sima. All used a combination of white and brown sugar rather than honey; this leads me to believe that the FOTW recipe is accurate, traditional and sovereign.
 
So, folks - in honor of Vappu, I am making a 5-quart batch of the traditional Finnish mead known as sima, which uses white and brown sugars rather than honey and is brewed in Finland to celebrate the Vappu festival on May Day, which commemorates the coming of spring.
 
Here's the goods:
 
 
After boiling the water and sterilising the jars, I removed the yellow peels, leaving the white part, and sliced the lemons:
 
 
Next, I cut all the pith off the slices and then added the boiling water.
 
 
I then stirred the mixture around to dissolve the sugars:
 
 
And let the mix settle and and cool to the point where I could add the yeast.
 
 
Now, it's time to let it ferment and then it will go in the mason jars (or some other suitable container)!
 
(The next day)
 
I poured the sima into mason jars as described in the recipe. Most of them have their raisins floating at the top by now, but one actually has the raisin suspended in mid-jar, as of this morning. we'll see how it looks tonight!
 
(2 days later)
 
I decided to add a little bit of sugar to the jar where the raisins had only risen partway. This jar came up a little short when I filled them and I ended up topping it off with water, which could be the reason for the apparent lack of fermentation. Hopefully, adding the sugar (I added about the equivalent of two cubes) will fix this.
 
(1 May 2010 -Vappu!)
 
I cracked this open and I couldn't believe how good this was! Clear, refreshing, effervescent and lemony; not sweet, but not bitter, either - just right!
 
The very first time I made this, it seemed a little bitter, so this time I had resolved to get every bit of white pith out of the lemons possible. In order to do this, I zested the lemons rather than peeling them, then cut off all pith from the lemon slices. this paid off in a big way!
 
(A little over a year later)
 
I've noticed that the longer sima ages, the better it is, I've got one jar left that is a little over a year old and it is definitely nice, lemony and smooth!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 July 2010 at 18:08
I tried this too.  Good stuff.  I added a half cup of dark local honey that a farmer up the road who keeps bees sells.  This is good stuff with quite a kick!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2013 at 17:15
Alright, my sima for this year is fermenting as we speak; tomorrow, I'll bottle them up and see how it goes. If anyone wants to have some ready in time for Vappu, you should start soon ~ it's easy!
 
Yes, people - I know that most mead is traditionally made with honey, rather than sugar - however this traditional mead is made with sugar, rather than honey ~ lol. I suppose one could make it with honey, for something different; all I know is that this does indeed taste nice, and  that it's time to get some made in time for Finland's 2013 Vappu (1 May).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2013 at 09:41
Well, today's the day ~ we'll see if I did a good job in making the sima this year. I added a pinch or two more sugar and yeast than usual, jsut to see what would happen, and used dark brown sugar, since that's what I had on hand.
 
The resulting mead is a little darker than usual, but I'm hoping that it will really taste good; usually when I make it, it looks about like the photo in the opening post, and tastes like a not-so-sweet, fizzy lemonade.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2013 at 10:34
Tas,

Speaking of elegant liquor making, this looks wonderful. The Pictorial is spectacular.

How long shall it take now ? 

Thanks for sharing such a simple liquor to prepare ... 

Just an after thought; I believe this would be stunning with Canary Island Limes or a combination of Seville, Blood and Sweet Oranges ... Viewpoints ?

One other question, raisins; is there a substitute ingredient that would work ? 

Thanks in advance. 

MCD. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2013 at 10:43

Hi, Margi -

This isn't a liquor, but a traditional mead from Finland that is made for the Vappu festival, which is held on May 1st. It can be made and ready to drink in just a few days, but I usually make it a couple-three months in advance, if possible, since I've found that the longer it "rests," the better it tastes (up to a point, I am sure).
 
I know that it has been tried with limes and oranges, but as I recall, those versions were lacking a bit in flavour and also in sweetness. The ones made with lemon, as is traditional, seem to work best; but having said that, I would like to try a lemon-lime and also an orange version sometime, just to see how it goes.
 
The raisins are not part of the flavour profile, but rather an indicator of when the sima is ready to drink. As it ferments, bubbles are formed, and when the raisins float to the top, the sima is ready.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2013 at 10:52
Tas,

Then, we shall go with fresh lemons ... which are lovely here and from designation of origin La Rioja, in the eastern most region, bordering Navarra in a Micro-climatic zone. 

Understand, about the purpose of the Raisins. We do not dislike raisins, however, it was just a question.

This is not a liquor per say, however, due to the fermentation, I was hesitant to just call it 
a "beverage" ! LOL



Thanks.
MCD. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2013 at 10:57


Looking forward to your results, and don't forget to remove ALL of the white part. in my photos above, you can see where I zested the lemons, then sliced them, and then after that cut off the white part around the edges. The pith will definitely provide a bitter taste, which to me is undesireable.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2013 at 12:34
Tas,

Yes I see you have carefully removed all the Pith ... Shall give this a try ... Need to buy the lemons  --- and the active yeast ... 

We shall do your Lemon classic recipe  ...  


thanks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2013 at 08:27

The sima turned out really good ~ very fizzy with a nice "beer-y" taste and great "lemon-y" highlights. It would actually make a great, refreshing beverage on a hot summer day, and I can just see myself sipping this while  enjoying an afternoon of barbecuing or fishing.

As mentioned above, it was a bit darker than normal due to my use of dark brown sugar. I can't say for sure that the dark brown sugar added anything to the experience, but it sure didn't hurt, either.
 
It had been jostled around quite a bit, so I didn't have any photos; I'll see about getting a couple tonight, after things have had a day to settle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2013 at 14:15
Tas,
 
It is interesting that you have mentioned, the flavor profile is similar to a Shandy, a gold beer with lemon frizzante ...
 
I am sure it would be a nice refreshing beverage for some outdoor activity.
 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 March 2014 at 21:09
It's that time again; I'll probably be making this over the weekend ~ 

For what it's worth, I have checked with a new friend in Finland, and he said that sima is indeed a mead made from sugar rather than honey; he suggested all brown sugar (rather than a combination of white and brown) for a fuller flavour.
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Hope it turns out wonderful. 

All my best. 

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Alright, my Sima for 2014 is made and bottled. For the first time, I tried bottling the sima in beer bottles, rather than using the 1-quart canning jars that I've used in the past - or the 1-litre plastic water bottles that I used last year:


Following the recipe, I made 5 quarts, which amounts to just a little over thirteen 12-ounce bottles. Departing from the recipe, I took my Finnish friend's advice and used all-brown sugar, rather than a combination of white and brown. He also suggested using four lemons rather than two, so I tried that as well. 

The little bit left over tasted great, a good balance of sweet, sour and just a little bit of bitter. But the real proof will be revealed n May First, when I sample the bottles to see how the fermentation and carbonisation went....

We'll see how they turn out! Beer 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 March 2014 at 20:53
I had the time and the materials, so I figured, "Why not?"

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 April 2014 at 21:50
okay, evidently pre-bottling sima in 12-oz beer bottles is something that requires a little extra attention. monday, while i was at work - 20 miles from home - the beautiful mrs. tas texted me in order to report that 5 bottles exploded. i was unable to do much about it at the time, but asked her to carefully put them in the refrigerator, in order to hopefully lower the potential for internal pressures.

after doing some quick checking, i learned that i should have moved them to the refrigerator as soon as the raisins rose to the top, in order to stop fermentation and carbonation. this step is clearly spelled out in the recipe (although the reason why is not explained), but i've never really considered this before, because they'd always been bottled in mason jars or screw-top plastic "pop" bottles. in these previous cases, some swelling or bulging pressure became evident, but it was never a critical thing. another option - in addition to refrigerating, is to heat the bottles of sima - pasteurizing them - in order to stop fermentation and carbonisation. I will definitely keep these options in mind for the future.

interestingly, i noticed a few days before the blow-ups that the raisins, which had risen to the top long ago (i should have refrigerated them then, i see now), were on the bottom and fully "re-hydrated" - very plump to nearly bursting. i can only guess that pressure from the carbonation forced them down?

in any case, when i got home, i opened a couple of bottles. carbonation was as you can guess dramatic, even though i opened them very, very slowly. lost a little down the neck, but the sima tasted great. not too sweet, not too sour, a hint of bitterness - very good, and i am looking forward to (carefully) enjoying the rest. very fizzy, of course, and i found myself thinking once again that this is nearly the perfect beverage to enjoy on a hot summer day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 October 2014 at 13:11
Reminds me of the time years ago when I got a hold of some Hires root beer extract and decided to make my own traditional fermented root beer.   I bottled it in beer bottles and over half of them ended up exploding.  Fermenting in sealed bottles is tricky and can be dangerous.  It's better to do the primary fermentation in a carboy or similar container and then add just enough sugar to the fermented beer, mead, etc just before bottling to fuel the secondary fermentation that will carbonate the finished product.  It doesn't take much, maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of sugar or malt to five gallons.     
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 October 2014 at 09:54
Ron, I'm curious how the results would differ if you were to use a different yeast, like an ale yeast or even a wine yeast which I think is used traditionally for mead. Though I suppose with those you'd get more efficient conversion of the sugars and might end up with a very dry product.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 January 2016 at 18:50

Well.
I have just finished bottling my first four bottles ever.
I didn't know about this thread until now.
The only thing different about the recipe I used is that it says to open each bottle once a day to release the pressure. Hence the ceramic lid bottles. When the raisins rise it is done. Leave sealed and refrigerate.
On Thursday we will know if its any good. It is certainly active!
It tasted ok this morning - very yeasty and young - but pleasant.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 January 2016 at 19:59
Very nice, Anne, and I really like those bottles! 

Let us know how it goes and how you like it. I did find that the longer it ages, the better it tastes - having said that, it's very good when it is young, too!
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