How to make Homemade Halloumi Cheese
We love Halloumi all year round, especially grilled on the bbq. Andy makes ours now because it is so easy to make. Here he shares how to make homemade Halloumi Cheese.
What is Halloumi Cheese?
Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened cheese which originates from Cyprus. You can make it from cow, sheep or goat's cheese, and this recipe is for making halloumi from cows' milk. It is quite salty, both from the salt you put in it and the brine in which you can store it.
Because it has a high melting point, it is excellent for grilling, frying or bbqing. So ideal for non-meat eaters as halloumi makes an excellent burger!
How do you make Halloumi?
Making Halloumi is a very simple process. You heat milk and add rennet. As it cools, the curds and whey naturally separate. You then poach the curds in the whey, then kept in brine to preserve the cheese for longer if you don't plan to make it right away.
Do I need to use Calcium Chloride?
Calcium chloride is often added to the milk used to make cheese, to improve coagulum formation and to increase the cheese yield. It is particularly recommended when you use homogenised milk.
Homogenisation is a way to make milk smooth and creamy by forcing the milk through a nozzle, breaking down the fat globules and spreading them evenly through the milk. These smaller fat particles then remain suspended in the milk, so the cream does not separate and rise to the top as it does in non-homogenised milk.
In cheesemaking, using homogenised milk can lead to a softer, weaker curd and may cause difficulties in coagulation.
So if we're using homogenised milk, we add calcium chloride. If the milk we're using isn't homogenised, we generally don't need to bother - but we often use it then too because it is said that the yield is increased by using it.
Why make your own Halloumi Cheese?
Whilst Halloumi is more widely available now than it used to be, it is still worth making your own. That's because you can make exactly the amount you want with no waste. Shop bought halloumi tends to be very salty. Halloumi is salty by tradition, but making it yourself means you can control the amount of salt you add if you're trying to watch your salt intake. And you can roll your homemade cheese in herbs and spices to customise it to your taste. When you use herbs, always use dried herbs (again, unless you plan to use it straight away). That's because the moisture in fresh herbs will go mouldy over time, even if the halloumi is stored correctly.
How to make Halloumi Cheese
2 litres of organic milk - full fat or semi skimmed
Calcium Chloride (particularly if the milk you are using is homogenised - see above)
Syringe/dropper/child's plastic medicine syringe
Bain Marie (or 2 saucepans placed one on top of the other, with lid for the larger pan)
2 old chopping boards to press the cheese or you can of course use a cheese press if you have one
Andy demonstrates how he makes halloumi in a video below. In that video he grills his halloumi on a grill mat.
1. If using calcium chloride, add 1ml to the cold milk in a large saucepan using a syringe or whatever you had. Mix in well.
2. Then put the saucepan on top of a smaller saucepan with water in. Heat the bottom pan which will automatically slowly heat the milk in the top pan, without boiling the milk.
3. Put your thermometer in the top pan and keep an eye on the temperature.
4. Dissolve one rennet tablet in 30ml water.
5. When the milk has reached 45 degrees C or 110 degrees F, mix the dissolved rennet into the milk.
6. Stir well to ensure for half a minute or so until the rennet is evenly distributed.
7. Remove the large pan with milk from on top of the small, and put it somewhere with the lid on undisturbed. Leave the milk for 45 minutes to cool and set.
8. After 45 minutes, check whether it looks set. If not quite, leave until it does.
9. Once the milk is set (you can stick a clean finger in if you can't tell any other way), cut the curds into 1cm blocks in the pan.
10. Gently move the cut curds around the pan with a slotted spoon, replace the lid and leave to rest for another 5 minutes.
11. Whilst gently stirring the pan, heat the pan to 30 degrees C on a very low heat. Keep gently stirring with the slotted spoon and heating until the pan gets to temperature. If you spot any large curds which you missed the first time, cut then with the knife as you spot them.
12. Keep heating and stirring and watch the curds reduce in size. The whey is becoming more separated from the curds, which is why they get smaller.
13. After 20 minutes, leave for another 20 minutes. The curds will all sink to the bottom, and the cooler liquid will make it easier to manage.
14. Line your colander with the cheese cloth.
15. Drain the curds into the cheesecloth over the pan.
16. Lift the corners of the cheesecloth and wrap them over the curds. Keep the curds to one side in the large saucepan (you'll need them later). If you want to use some of the whey for another recipe, such as fermented lemonade, keep a little to one side. The rest of it will be used to poach the halloumi a bit later and, once it has been heated, it won't work in a fermentation.
17. Flatten your cheesecloth to about 4 cm thick on an old chopping board, and place another one on top. Use tins or plates or whatever you have as a weight on top of the board.
18. Check your cheese after about 10 minutes. Whey will be coming out of the cheese cloth on to the old board beneath. Clean up the whey, turn your cheese over, place the board and weight on top again for another 20 minutes.
19. Unwrap the curds, cut it into 6 pieces.
20. Heat the whey you saved earlier to 95 degree C, ie just below boiling point.
21. Skim any bits of scum and weigh off the top as the whey heats up.
21. When the whey is at 95 degrees, poach the 6 pieces of curd in the whey for as long as it takes for them to come to the surface, which means they're cooked (4-5 minutes or so).
22. Leave the pieces of halloumi on a rack to cool.
23. Sprinkle them with salt, dried herbs, spices, whatever you fancy.
24. You can either use the halloumi straight away, or store it in brine until you're ready to use it.