ArticleApril 16, 2020 · 5 min read time
In an exclusive feature from the Culture Desk, sima expert SimaSami Airaksinen shares his May Day Sima Mead recipe – Nitor's best-kept secret. In the absence of traditional May Day festivities, now you recreate the festive atmosphere at home by making this beverage using SimaSami’s recipe.
May Day is an important holiday for many Finns. Festivities begin on April 30th and continue through the night until May 1st. Think open-air picnics in barely warm enough spring weather. This centuries-old celebration started as a tribute to the English catholic saint Valburg, but today it marks the end of winter and heralds the coming of summer. Of course, there's no May Day without the traditional Vappu sima, which many people prepare at home themselves. We, of course, also have our traditional Nitor sima recipe - provided by none other than SimaSami.
Despite the challenging times, our culture correspondents have taken the liberty to have their own May Day celebration at home. As it’s a Finnish tradition to enjoy sima during this celebration of workers, they took it upon themselves to uncover the best sima recipe. The word on the street now’s the time to start making sima if you want this bottled beverage to be its best on May Day. Should our interview occur ever so slightly behind this schedule, the reason lies entirely with our carrier pigeon who has put on some extra weight lately.
We heard that the most coveted recipe in the city for this fizzy spring beverage can be found from SimaSami Airaksinen, the resident beverage expert at Nitor – the digital engineering company. Hello SimaSami!
You work as an ICT expert for the teleoperator Elisa. How does making sima differ from your day job?
Being an ICT expert can get pretty abstract sometimes, and when you've got a sticky problem, finding the right solution can feel like a squeeze. But hey - when life gives you lemons, make sima! By taking the problem and simmering it back down to the basics, you're sure to have a refreshing breakthrough.
Is it true that you worked alongside the famous Esko Valtaoja, Professor of Space Astronomy, in the search for extra-Nitorial intelligence?
This is indeed true. During my time as Research Assistant for Professor Valtaoja, we identified several promising candidates for extra-Nitorial intelligence.
Your original sima recipe is for a whopping 60 litres. Is this a safe quantity for home use?
This 60 litre recipe has traditionally been used for Nitor’s company-wide May Day celebration. Maybe this would be an appropriate time to scale down the recipe! I imagine 6 litres should be sufficient.
The required ingredients
1 sima-making enthusiast, preferably with a spring in their step
1 bucket, funnel, and fine sieve along with ladles, scoops, peeling knives, and pots
4 plastic bottles, 1.5 litres each
6 litres of water
400g of white sugar
300g of soft brown sugar
A sprinkle of raisins
Interesting tools! Let’s go through the sima making process while we wait for our shipment of artisan raisins to be delivered.
The process is quite simple really. It's split into roughly two phases; we make the sima on the first day and bottle it on the second day. Apart from these two phases, the order of steps isn't important as long as you get an even mixture.
How to make the SimaSami May Day sima
Wash the bucket with hot water
Bring half of the water (3 litres) to a near-boil
Dissolve the sugar in the hot water: 300g of white sugar and 300g of soft brown sugar - Note: the extra 100g of white sugar is for bottling
Once the sugar has dissolved, cool the brew by adding the rest of the water(the brew should be lukewarm to activate the yeast)
Peel some the lemons and add the peel to the brew according to taste
Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the brew - don’t fret over a few seeds or a misplaced lemon, the brew will be sieved before bottling
Taste the tincture and season to taste
Shape 1–2 pea-sized balls from the fresh yeast
Dissolve the yeast balls in a small amount of the sima
Add the yeast liquid into the brew and mix lightly
Cover the brew with aluminum foil and set aside
I must say, making sima sounds like hard work.
That it is! Remember to rest sufficiently before bottling the next day.
Move the brew to a place where it is okay to make a mess
Do not mix the brew, the yeast should remain undisturbed on the bottom
Prepare the empty bottles by putting in a teaspoon of sugar in each one and add raisins according to taste
Bottle the brew using a sieve and a funnel but don’t bottle the bottom of the brew - it’s too yeasty
Do not fill the bottles all the way but leave a few centimeters of empty space
Close the caps tightly on the bottles and move them to a cool place for storage
Clean up after yourself
Thank you SimaSami! When will we find out if making the sima was a success?
The sima process is successful when, on the third day, the bottles clearly feel solid. The sima will be at its best one week from bottling. You can speed up the process by keeping the bottles in a warm place, but be careful that the fermentation process doesn’t cause any bottles to pop!
Do you have any other tips for successfully making sima?
I recommend getting an official overseer to handle the quality assurance of your sima-making operation. I remain grateful to my overseer, who has dutifully overseen my operation for many years now!
Do you have a serving suggestion for the SimaSami May Day sima?
I recommend you sip your May Day sima on a picnic blanket in your own yard! Garlic-marinated herring and potato salad are ideal tools for maintaining safe distances. If you're looking for a bit of a kick, add a teensy drop of Jaloviina brandy to your May Day sima (the one-star version, of course).
Nitor’s Culture Correspondents and SimaSami wish you an enjoyable and safe May Day!