Sima is a traditional Finnish fermented lemonade typically served on May Day. It’s fermented with yeast, which lends it a signature tang and a whole bunch of fizz. I happen to love fizzy stuff, including the not-so-healthy options–Fresca, for example. I am a sucker for Fresca: it’s carbonated, cold and grapefruit-y, what’s not to love? And yes, you guys. I already know about aspartame.
Anyway, I digress: sima was my introduction to home-fermented, fizzy, tart beverages, and I love having some on hand. It occurred to me to attempt making some with grapefruit instead of lemons (given my love for Fresca). I’m delighted with the results. I was at a bit of a loss for what to call it: for now we’re going with “grapefruit sima”. It really does seem to be the most fitting option. It’s not exactly like Fresca, but it does share the same crisp, tart grapefruit-y quality, plus an added tang from the yeast. Me and my house are big fans.
Click here for the original sima recipe, including more details about this traditional Finnish beverage!
Equipment needed to make sima
- large pot
- large non-metallic container (I prefer a glass jar)
- cutting board
- knife (I’m no knife expert, but I love Cutco!)
Ingredients for grapefruit sima
- sugar: white and brown
- active dry yeast
How to make grapefruit sima
Wash and slice grapefruit, and set aside. When I make sima with lemons, I slice them very thinly, but grapefruit slices seem to be a little more prone to disintegrating so I make them thicker!
Bring water to a boil on the stove. When it reaches a boil, add brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, and grapefruits and stir. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
Transfer to a non-metallic container (I use this jar). Add yeast when lemonade is between 110-115 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, it should feel only very slightly warm to the touch. Cover lightly.
Leave to sit on the counter until little bubbles begin to appear at the upper edge, approximately 8-10 hours or overnight.
Sterilize your bottles. I do this by pouring boiling water over clean bottles in the sink, then using an oven mitt to carefully transfer them to a clean area on the counter.
Place granulated sugar in each bottle- I use about 1 teaspoon each, but you can adjust to taste and to the size of your bottles, about 1-2 teaspoons per quart of sima. Place a few raisins in each bottle as well.
Strain the sima and pour into your containers. Cork or seal tightly.
Let stand at room temperature until the raisins have risen to the top of the sima. The time this takes will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen, from 8 hours to 24 or more. When the raisins have risen, the sima is ready to drink.
You’ll definitely want to burp your bottles of excess carbon dioxide, particularly if they’ve been on the counter longer than a day or so-and be careful when you do this. Do not aim bottle stoppers at your face (take it from me).
Place in the refrigerator. This will both chill your sima and stop further fermentation. Enjoy!
Don’t feel alone if you splash this everywhere.
As you can see, I make a mess absolutely every time I bottle this! I have yet to nail down how to transfer it from the gallon jar to the bottles without splashing at least a little on the counter. I do strongly recommend a funnel with strainer, like the one linked above in the equipment list, to avoid a bunch of pulp and seeds in your sima.
- 2 grapefruits
- 1 gallon filtered water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup + 2-3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
- approx 1 Tbsp raisins
- Wash and slice grapefruits, and set aside
- Place water in a large pot and bring to a boil
- Add brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar. Add grapefruit slices, and remove from heat
- Allow to cool to lukewarm (110-115 degrees Farenheit)
- Add yeast, stir. Transfer mixture to a large non-metallic container such as a glass jar
- Cover lightly, and leave to sit overnight at room temperature (or until little bubbles appear around the edges near the surface)
- Sterilize bottles, allow to cool. Place 1 tsp granulated sugar (or more, to taste) in each bottle.
- Place a few raisins in each bottle.
- Strain sima into bottles and cover or cork tightly.
- Leave to sit at room temperature until all raisins have risen to the top of the sima. This could take anywhere from 8-24+ hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen
- Transfer to the fridge to stop fermentation and chill. Enjoy!
1. Once corked and fermenting on the counter, you will want to burp sima once a day. I typically burp my bottles once after about 12 hours fermentation time, let them sit on the counter another 12 hours or so, at which point the raisins are generally all risen. If you do not burp them at all the sima will be fizzier, but you run the risk of bottles exploding or a cork flying off. The first time I attempted sima, I left my bottles too long and when I tried to uncork them, the whole cork and clasp went shooting off into the sink, followed by most of the liquid. I'm thankful that I had the good sense to aim the bottle away from my kids.
2. To burp, I hold the cork down, flip the clasp up until I hear the carbon dioxide whooshing out. I only let out the first spurt of excess air before firmly re-corking. If you like a less fizzy sima, you can let out more air.
Ready to ferment a solid food next? Try my sauerkraut, found here.
Give this one a shot? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!