Halloumi has always been on one of my favourite cheeses for its versatility: you can eat it cold, you can warm it up in the microwave or, best than all, grill it. It grills as if it was meat: given its very low water contents, it’s basically a solid piece of lactose and casein.
One of the best surprises I’ve ever had was discovering how easy – albeit a bit long – is to home make halloumi.
Halloumi is from Cyprus and was originally made – and traditionally still made – with half sheep and half goat milk. However, most of the Halloumi you find outside of Cyprus is made from cow milk – and this is what we are going to make today.
- 5 litres of unhomogenised, pasteurised milk
- greek yogurt with live culture
That’s it! Let’s start.
- Start warming the milk. It should reach about 32C in half an hour
- Meanwhile dissolve half a tablet of rennet or several drops in some water – ideally you should overuse the rennet a little in order to get a very dense curd
- At the same time, take a spoonful of yogurt and mix it well in about 100cc of milk
4. When the milk on the hob has reached 32C, pour together the rennet and the dissolved yogurt, stir, cover and wait for more or less an hour. The curd is ready when it breaks cleanly as we’ve seen in previous recipes.
5. When ready, cut the curd as usual, stir, and wait for 15-20 minutes in order to release some water.
6. After this, pour the curd through a cheese cloth but do not throw the whey away. I generally use a colander to make sure I don’t lose any curd. The whey will be needed later, so keep it in a bowl.
7. Tie a knot on the cheese cloth and prepare for the best part 🙂
8. Using some thread, hang the cloth with the curd. Put a bowl below it and let it drip. Leave it for about 5-6 hours, until no more water is dripping.
Beautiful, isn’t it? 🙂
9. After 6 hours or so, take the cheese out of the cloth and cut it in 5-6 pieces.
Try doing this in a way that keeps the slices more or less of the same size.
10. It’s time for the scalding of the cheese-to-be. Bring the whey you saved earlier to 45C, then put the slices into it and keep them at 45C for about a hour.
Stir every 5-10 minutes, and check nothing is sticking to the bowl.
11. When done, get the slices out of the whey (but once again do not throw the whey away!) and leave them to cool down for some time. Salt them on the surface on both sides.
Ideally, leave them like this for several hours.
12. Add 50g of salt to 2.5 litres of whey and bring to the boil, stirring until it dissolves. When the whey is boiling, switch the fire off and leave it to cool down to room temperature.
13. Put the cheese with the whey/salt brine in an air-tight container, put in the fridge and…
… your Halloumi is ready to be eaten 🙂
Of course, the more you wait the better. Halloumi can keep for several weeks in the fridge, and it will become better as it ages.
The reason for all this salt used is the climate in Cyprus: Halloumi was traditionally made in a country that is hot and humid, and salt was used to preserve it.
Just remember Halloumi is still not a hard cheese in strict sense, and it’s not made for dry ageing, so I’d recommend not exceeding a month or so.