Raparperisima - Rhubarb Mead

The Finnish type mead, sima, is a non-alcoholic drink spiced with lemons and brown sugar. Traditionally it's served around 1 May (Vappu). The drink is sweet and slightly "fermented" in taste and bubbly. This time I wanted to make, not the traditional lemon-and-brown-sugar version, but rhubarb mead instead, as this time I wasn't making it for Vappu but for Midsummer. I had been wanting to try the recipe for ages and was curious if the rhubarb would give a nice colour to the drink (and it did!). Usually I like the brown sugar taste in mead, but this time I didn't want to risk losing the possible pink colour. I imagine brown sugar would also overpower the taste of rhubarb, so I opted for white sugar this time. 

The best season for rhubarb is almost past. The spring stalks are usually more more pink. So if you are making the mead from rhubarb picked now, probably it will not colour the drink as pink as those of the early summer but on the other hand the high sugar content of the drink will likely compliment the oxalic taste of the rhubarbs.


Rhubarb Mead (makes appr. 2,5 l mead)

500 g rhubarb stalks
250 g white sugar
2 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut in thin (~ 2-3 mm) slices
n. 2,5 L water
0,5 mL fresh yeast (=about the size of a pea) (1 ml equals roughly a Finnish "maustemitta"
(~a dozen raisins)
Cut the rhubarb stalks to 2-4 cm pieces (don't peel them, as the skin will give the mead a nice pink colour). Put them with ginger in a big pot (at least 3 liters). Pour the sugar on top. Boil the water and pour it on the rhubarbs and leave to cool under a lid.
Once the mixture has cooled to room-temperature (or under 37 C), take some mead to a cup and dissolve the yeast to it. Mix it with the rest of the liquid. Cover with a lid and leave to rest in room-temperature for 1-2 days. 
Sieve the drink and put it in sterilized bottles. Put a couple of raisins in each bottle (they will float to the surface once the mead is done). Close the bottles with rubber caps (or you could use ordinary screwcaps, but don't close them too tightly or you'll risk getting too much pressure inside the bottles...) Let the mead brew for about one week in a cool place (I put mine in fridge). If the raisins haven't risen in one week, you could try keeping the bottles in a slightly warmer place than fridge (the cellar etc would be optimal I'd guess) for a day or two to see, if it starts happening then. Once the raisins have risen on the surface, it's ready! Serve chilled. Enjoy within one week.
If you are afraid of the bottles to explode, you can keep them in closed plastic bags. If they do explode, then the mess will be at least smaller... Or just let the pressure out every once and then by opening the caps a bit (but then the drink won't get as fizzy :( i'd imagine...)

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