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How to make a Halloumi Cheese (from the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus)

Updated: Mar 1

I hope you'll make this recipe soon. If you do, please tag me #innichka_chef on Instagram, Facebook, Patreon, or Pinterest.

halloumi cheese

I'm not a farm-girl, I do not have a cow, nor a goat, but sometimes I just love to put my hands into cheesemaking.

Making cheese is a beautiful thing; you take white liquid substance (milk) and all of a sudden you have a piece of gorgeous cheese that can be used in many applications.  A very satisfying process, magic! Very much like bread making.

My friend Androula, who is originally from Cyprus, encouraged me to make her home-country cheese.  She came over to my kitchen and we made together this glorious cheese.

Here, take a look at the cheeses that I published earlier and you can see how easy it is to make it yourself without any special equipment:

farmer's cheese in the bowl
ricotta cheese

Today I am sharing with you the cheese you can sear like a steak. Halloumi cheese! Thanks to its unique molecular structure, this cheese is squeaky, briny, stays firm over a flame, and takes on flavorful browning and char.

It’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years in Cyprus and has recently gained in popularity. Today, it’s often featured on the menus of Greek restaurants and can be found in the cheese sections of most supermarkets.

You can serve it on its own or paired with other ingredients such as fresh fruit, vegetables, toasted nuts, seeds, or — my personal favorite — raw honey.


ABOUT HALLOUMI CHEESE

Halloumi cheese has a unique savory flavor and firm texture. It is a semi-hard cheese typically made from the milk of goats, sheep, or even cows.

halloumi cheese in a brine

It’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years in Cyprus and has recently gained in popularity. Today, it’s often featured on the menus of Greek restaurants and can be found in the cheese sections of most supermarkets.


cheese with price in a package on a shelf

If you follow food platforms on Instagram, TikTok, and/or watch cooking videos on YouTube, you've witnessed what's known as a cheese pull: oozing curds dramatically stretched out from a panini or a slice of pizza being tugged from the pie. But "pullable" cheeses aren't the only kind that deserve the spotlight. In fact, today I'd like to make the case and introduce to you a cheese that doesn't melt, puddle, or produce a single stretchy string: halloumi, the firm, squeaky cheese with a slightly salty-minty flavor.

sliced cheese on a paper towel, black olives

Cypriots sometimes eat unheated halloumi alongside refreshing fruit.

But it's universally acknowledged that cooking unlocks the cheese's true magic.


Grilled or Fried Halloumi

Drop a slab into a hot, oil-slicked skillet and watch. Its firm bounce gradually relaxes into suppleness, but the slice holds its shape. Than, turn the slice over to reveal halloumi's particular glory: a delectably browned, crisped crust that rivals that of a well-seared steak. Thanks to its dense, meaty structure, halloumi can take over the lead role in dishes that typically star meats.


How To Store Your Homemade Halloumi Cheese

Store in its own brine for a month.  You will have plenty after the whole process is over.  I even saved the extra brine for bread making, pancakes or as buttermilk for my next fried chicken dinner.

The other way is a vacuum pack or freezing and these two methods let you keep this cheese fresh for up to 6 months.


How to Cook Halloumi Cheese?

Grilling is probably the most popular way to prepare halloumi cheese. It is fast and simple! And a grill mark is a beautiful culinary method, isn't it?

First, heat the grill to a medium-high heat. 

While it is heating, slice the halloumi into half-inch-thick slices. 

Grill until lightly browned on each side. It won’t take long! Serve immediately. 


Ways to Use Halloumi Cheese

There are many other ways to use this unique cheese!

  • After grilling or frying, it can be served very simply with just a touch of lemon juice drizzled on top or a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or both! This can be served as a quick and easy appetizer.

  • Or as protein toping for your salad or wrap.

  • Cut it into chunks and grill on skewers with vegetables and you have halloumi shish-kebabs.

  • Cube it and let it warm up in soup to add something really special to your soups, very much like tofu in Asian cuisine.

  • Sauté just like piece of chicken in olive oil with garlic and vegetables. 

  • Many people find it to be a great meat substitute on burgers and paninis for a yummy vegetarian option. 

  • Grate it to add to pasta dishes either as a topping or filling!


Why you should make a simple cheeses at home?

  • Making cheese at home is fun and so easy you can get the kids involved in a bit of real hands-on kitchen crafting. GREAT KIDS ACTIVITY!

  • Homemade halloumi (or any other simple homemade cheese, such as paneer, ricotta or farmer's cheese) tastes way better than the average supermarket cheese. THIS IS A FACT!

  • You know exactly what is in there. No additives, colorings or preservatives.


What you will need to make halloumi cheese

Halloumi Ingredients:

  • 2 gallons of raw milk (ideally goat or sheep but cow will do as well)

  • 1 teaspoon rennet powder (my came from Cyprus, but there so many options on Amazon, and this one is great)

  • 2-3 tablespoons of Celtic salt or cheese salt

  • 2-3 tablespoons of dried mint


Halloumi Making Equipment:


Directions:


  • Add the milk into a sauce pot. Slow start to heat it, until its reaches 95F. Use Kitchen thermometer for this step. After its reaches 95F turn the heat off.

  • Next thing is to dissolve the rennet in 25ml of cooled boiled water and after heating the milk to 90F/32C you very gently stir in the rennet solution, stir slowly with your hand or wooden spoon gently for 30 seconds.

  • Cover the pot and leave it for 45 minutes.

  • At this point your milk mixture should have a texture that slightly resembles jelly. After this time you have a solid mass of curds in the pot and you cut these into cubes or slices with your hand or a knife to help release the whey.

  • Let the curds rest for 10 minutes, then heat to 105F and carefully stir the curds for about 15 minutes.

  • Line a colander with cheesecloth/muslin and pour in the curds. Gather up the edges of the cloth and fold over to enclose the cheese.

  • Shape a cloth into rectangle if possible (my friend, Androula, taught me how to do it). Place on top something heavy to weigh it down and help press out all the whey. I used mortar and pesto dish.

  • After an hour you heat the whey to 200F and skim off any curds that form. Don't throw them away, you can use them for a ricotta cheese recipes.

  • Get ready for the step of cooking the halloumi. This step is very important; it makes halloumi cheese to be unique with a high smoke point. Cut it into pieces--- we made 6 squares, then gently lower into the hot whey using a slotted spoon. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes.

  • Then dunk each piece into a bowl of cold water to cool and set out on a baking rack to dry out.

  • The last step is to sprinkle generously with sea salt and dried mint. To make a true halloumi fold each piece in half, and then place in a glass dish, making sure the cheese pieces sit nice and tight, and pour some of leftover whey(brine) on top, covering it and let the cheese rest in a fridge for at least 4 days. Sure you can eat it right away, but it is better to wait 4 days. Enjoy fresh, as it is, or grilled. I really hope you give this cheese a try soon! I hope you'll make this recipe soon. If you do, please tag me #innichka_chef on Instagram, Facebook, Patreon, or Pinterest.

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