Sima – Finnish May Day Mead

Sima is a traditional soft drink that’s typically consumed as a part of May Day (Vappu) celebrations. The process of making similar to mead, and the result is a pleasant, slightly citrus-y soda with natural fizz.

Did you know you can make soda at home, without having to buy an expensive soda-making machine or co2 cartridges? You can! And it’s pretty easy.

This drink is called “sima” and it’s like a natural soda made from water, sugar, and a small amount of yeast. Finns make it for Vappu (May Day), which is the fourth-largest celebration in Finland (after Christmas, Midsummer, and New Years’ Eve).

Since I’ve been married to a Finnish guy for over ten years, I’ve had plenty of practice making sima. It’s actually pretty easy to make, but you will need a few supplies.

Here’s what you need to make sima:

  • A large pot
  • Bottles with tight-fitting lids (I find that round-shaped plastic soda bottles work the best)
  • A funnel
  • Optional: 1 gallon jars with airlocks (not necessary, but will make for fizzier sima)

Make sure that the bottles you use are very clean. I usually scrub mine out with a bottle brush and run them through the dishwasher.

Sima can be served with homemade donuts, rosettes, or funnel cakes.

The process of making sima is pretty simple. Heat water, add sugar, lemon juice and lemon peels, and let it cool. Then add yeast and let it sit for a day or two.

Water, sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, and lemon peels in a large pot. Yeast is added after the liquid has cooled.
After 1 day, my sima was bubbling like crazy! It’s in a glass jar with an air-lock here, which lets gas out of the jar and keeps fruit flies from entering. I put it into air-tight bottles at this point.

While sima is not consumed as an alcoholic drink, it does contain a small amount of naturally-produced alcohol. Increasing the amount of time it sits (ferments) at room temperature will increase the alcohol content. To keep things PG, I typically let them ferment in the capped bottles for less than 8 hours.

Delicious homemade soda with lots of fizz!
how to make mead - Finnish Sima

Sima – Finnish May Day Mead

This very easy mead recipe is a delicious, mild-tasting soft drink that's traditionally made for May Day (Vappu) in Finland.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 d
Cook Time 0 mins
Servings 16 gallons
Calories 224 kcal


  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 lemons
  • 1/4 cup lemon peels
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast


  • In a large pot, add 2 gallons of water and heat until near boiling. Remove from heat and add the sugars, the juice from the 4 lemons, and lemon peels. Allow liquid to cool 1-2 hours.
  • After the liquid has cooled to slightly warmer than room temperature, stir in the yeast until dissolved.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Or, for fizzier sima, pour the liquid into two 1-gallon glass jars fitted with airlock lids instead of leaving it in the pot.
  • After 24 hours, stir the liquid. Using a funnel, divide the liquid into clean plastic bottles and screw the caps on tightly. I used plastic bottles that hold up to 17oz.
  • Let the bottles sit at room temperature until they feel hard when you try to press the sides, about 1-8 hours depending on the air temperature in your home. Then move them into the fridge to chill. They should be consumed within 1 week.


  • Use an apple peeler to remove the lemon peels. Carefully try to peel only the yellow part of the peel, the “zest.” The white inner part of the lemon peel will make the sima more bitter.
  • Sima is a traditional soda-like soft drink which contains a very low amount of alcohol. 
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Finnish


Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 34mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 56g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1mg
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4 thoughts on “Sima – Finnish May Day Mead”

    • The nutritional info is estimated per serving (about 15oz). However – the nutritional info is calculated by the ingredients added to the recipe, and doesn’t account for the fact that sugars are eaten by the yeast during fermentation. The final result is not as sweet as it suggests, although some people do add additional sugar to sweeten the final sima.

  1. 5 stars
    This turned out very tasty, and VERY fizzy! Definitely gotta keep a close eye on the sima once it’s put into the bottles for the first ferment. I think my house is hotter so they developed faster. But now I know I can make this instead of buying soft drinks, so less plastic wasted!

    • My sima definitely gets fizzier faster when the house is warmer as well. And yes, it’s nice to make a fizzy drink that doesn’t create extra packaging waste. Thanks for stopping by, Claire!


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