Vappusima Recipe

22 April, 2023

Every year on the 1st of May we celebrate Vappu here in Finland, during which we drink Sima, a type of fermented mead traditionally seasoned with honey and lemon.

Here are instructions on how to make it at home!

Step 0: Before you begin

Equipment and ingredients

Listed below are all the stuff you need to follow the recipe. I strongly recommend a brewing vat, but using a generic open faced container has been taken into account in the instructions.

Optional things to make your life easier:

You may need to improvise / skip some steps if you do not have this stuff handy.

Choosing the right bottle

You can use whatever bottles you can get your hands on, but there is one important thing to keep in mind: the pressure inside the bottle will build up as CO2 is generated during fermentation.

For plastic bottles, either leave the caps a little loose, or open the bottles up periodically to allow some of the CO2 to escape. If you don’t, they will eventually explode. In my opinion the best choice are these glass flip-top bottles, as they will not will suddenly burst open, and also leak very little CO2 making the end product more bubbly.

Step 1: Cleaning the equipment

Many online brewing resources state that all of the equipment used must be meticulously scrubbed with purpose made sanitizers, or else the end product will inevitably be spoiled. Humans have been making fermented alchol for thousands of years, and I guarantee they did not have specialised cleaning products in ancient China. Simply wash your equipment (this includes your hands) with soap and hot water, and make sure to rinse them liberally afterwards, as you don’t want your end product to taste like soap.

Step 2: Preparing the mead base

Heat up 3 liters of water in a large pot. Dump in all the sugar and honey, and whisk until dissolved.
Add the cinnamon sticks and leave simmering.

pot filled with simmering liquid

1. Dissolving honey and sugar into water

Peel off some lemon and orange rinds, and throw them into the pot. Cut the lemons and oranges in halves, and squeeze the juice into the pot (preferrably through a colander). Place the fruit to the side for later.

Cutting board with citrus fruits and cooking utensils

2. Harvesting lemon and orange peels + juice

After the liquid has simmered for 10 minutes, remove the rinds and cinnamon sticks, and dump the liquid into your brewing vat.

Add cold water into the vat in such a way that there is exactly 10 liters of liquid, and the temperature is suitable for your choice of yeast (between 25-40°C should be fine).
If you don’t have a thermometer to check the temperature, aim for a liquid that is slightly warm to the touch: as long as it’s not too hot for the yeast to die, and not too cold to stop it from activating, it’s fine.

Add the yeast, and give the liquid an aggressive stir to incorporate.

If you have a brewing pouch, fill it with the cinnamon sticks and citrus pulp, and throw it into the vat.

Close the vat, and let the mead base ferment for 1-3 days in a warm place.
Fermentation time depends on the type and amount of yeast used, but for fresh yeast 2 days should be sufficient.

If you can, move the whole vat to somewhere cool for 12-24 hours before bottling, so the yeast has time to deactivate and fall to the bottom (this will make the following steps easier).

NOTE: If you are using an open faced container (e.g. a bucket), wrap the top with plastic foil in such a way that CO2 can just barely escape the container.

A brewing vat filled with sima

3. A brewing vat filled with sima sitting on the floor

Step 3: Bottling and cold fermentation

Once the mead base is done fermenting, it’s bottling time.

When bottling the sima, try not to shake the vat as not to disturb the sediment at the bottom. If you have a siphon at your disposal, now is the time to use it. If not, I recommend ladeling (or pouring) the liquid into a different container, leaving as much of the yeasty mess behind as possible.

siphoning sima from brewing vat to other containers

4. Siphoning sima from the brewing vat into some pots

Before bottling, taste the sima and see if it needs any additional sweetening. Depending on how active the yeast has been (i.e. how much sugar it has consumed), the sima might be a little dry. If this is the case, add some cane sugar or honey for sweetness.

bottling sima on a kitchen counter

5. Sima being bottled

Place the bottles somewhere cool (e.g. a refigirator) to ferment for additional 1-4 days.


Congratulations, you should now have about 10 liters of delicious sima.

Drink responsibly, and have a good Vappu!

sima bottle and glass sitting on a table

6. Delicious sima basking in the sun