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Sima To Go With Your Munkki For Vappu

Posted on May 2, 2013

Vappu, is what Finnish people call the first of May. They have some interesting traditions that belong solely to them. These are not known in the realm of Sverige (Sweden) or Norway that border Finland. This lovely little treat of a beverage is distinct and special to Finland.

Sima For Vapu, drunk along side Munkki to celebrate May Day in Finnish Scandinavia.

Sima For Vapu, drunk along side Munkki to celebrate May Day in Finnish Scandinavia.

Sima, was once made with honey but today, is typically made with various varieties of sugar, and is flavored with lemon and lemon rind and even raisins as a finisher. It is then consumed raisins and all. In a similar vein as the winter drink Glogi, which typically contains both raisins and almonds. Finns, seem to enjoy edible garnishes in their traditional drinks.

The initial flavoring done in a big metal bowl. Sliced lemons are added rind and all.

The initial flavoring done in a big metal bowl. Sliced lemons are added rind and all.

Ingredients:
2 gallons of water
2 pounds of sugar (in a desired ratio of brown vs regular sugar. I used equal ratio, so 1 pound of each, but one can use different ratios too which will yield different color)
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
2 lemons
some raisins and little extra sugar
The Next Phase Raisins Are Added.

The Next Phase Raisins Are Added.

 

Raisins Rising Towards The Top.

Raisins Rising Towards The Top.

 

Instructions:
1. Boil about half a gallon of water.
2. Pour the boiling water on the sugars, and mix until sugars have dissolved into water.
3. Add rest of the water. Resulting mix should be about body temperature.
4. Take a little bit of the resulting liquid, and dissolve the yeast into it. Pour back into the liquid.
5. Slice the lemons and add to the mix.
6. Let the mix ferment for about a day.
7. Put some raisins and about a tablespoon of sugar in bottles, and add the liquid to bottles (without lemons). At the bottom, there may be some yeast sediment: do not bottle that. Close the bottles, but not too tightly, since fermentation will continue and the bottles may break if too much pressure is formed inside. You can keep the bottles in the fridge, in which case it will take about a week for sima to be ready; or in room temperature, in which case it will take a couple of days. Raisins tell you when the drink is ready: when they rise to the surface, sima is ready.
8. Keep sima in the fridge and serve cool, it should stay good for about a week.
"Tankards" of Sima Fermenting.

“Tankards” of Sima Fermenting.

Usually Sima is drunk on the eve of May first, and a great deal of sugary treats are eaten. It contains only trace amounts of alcohol so it is safe even for children. Usually it is consumed on the eve. Often, the left overs are then taken on the day of May First, to the picnics that happen all over Finland as is their custom for heralding in the beginning of summer time. Yes, they eat more munkki also at these picnics. Munkki though traditional for May first (Vappu) is also eaten all year round. And this beautiful beverage though traditional for Vappu, would be just as pleasant on any summer or spring picnic. I was surprised by just how softly flavorful it was. Absolutely delicious!

Setting For Two! Very Similar Than The Setting For Four when my parents dropped by to celebrate Vappu with us.

Setting For Two! Very Similar Than The Setting For Four when my parents dropped by to celebrate Vappu with us.

It was very nice to share this tradition from the frozen north with my family who came over to try it all out. These Finnish traditions are not second nature to me but they are not wholly unknown either. For my family, they are completely new and very exciting and we love to share with them the good times. It was a pleasure to visit with them and to enjoy Vappu in Finnish style.

A Delicious Time Was Had By All.

A Delicious Time Was Had By All.

 

 

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