The reach of sima also extends beyond the festivities. Young students learn to ferment sima in schools; restaurants offer sima on their Vappu menus alongside herring, potato salad and sweet pastries; and big breweries bottle and sell their own versions of the drink. Each spring, shop shelves fill with varieties of sima, and newspapers review the best brands. Furthermore, artisanal food culture has turned homemade sima into a trend, with creative home brewers experimenting with new flavours ranging from spruce to cucumber to rhubarb.
I, too, have dabbled in making my own. Following Kulmala's sima recipe from her book, I added pineapple and orange to the traditional lemon rind and juice, mixed everything together with sugar, then poured over near-boiling water, adding a pinch of yeast when the water had cooled down a little. After waiting eight hours, I strained the sima into bottles and topped each with a few raisins. Once a day for almost a week, I opened the bottles to let the pressure escape, and, once the raisins rose to the surface, I knew the fermentation process was complete.
This spring, while tracing the path of sima from Viking drink to a Finnish spring tipple, I ventured to Turku with a bottle of my homemade sima. In the Turku castle's cobblestone courtyard, I imagined being back in Innamaa's days, when barrels of sima would be hauled into the castle and enjoyed by the court. I popped the cork, my fingers getting sticky as the lightly pressured drink fizzed onto my hands. A lemon scent surrounded me and pulled me back to childhood. I took the year's first sip of sima, let the citric sweetness roll on my tongue and made a toast to the rich history of Finland.
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