It is shocking… but our local, organic milk is on sale this week! Milk NEVER goes on sale. So, I couldn’t resist stockpiling and making loads of cheese. Halloumi one of my favourites. It is a traditional Greek and Turkish cheese that, like feta, is brined after pressing. It is a firm low-acid cheese, which means it won’t melt when grilled or fried, so it’s perfect for barbecues and salads.
Benefits of fresh cheese
While I occasionally dabble in the world of hard cheese, I usually I prefer making fresh cheese.
- It allows me to be a bit more relaxed about sterilization (though clean is always best for every ferment!).
- A gallon of milk turns into about 4 cups of cheese.
- Best of all you get to eat the cheese right away (or at least you don’t have to wait 6 months for it to finish!)
- 1 gallon (4L) whole milk (goat and sheep are traditional, but you can use cow dairy)
- ¼ tsp calcium chloride in ¼ cup of water
- Rennet (enough to set 1 gallon, follow rennet packaging) in ¼ cup of water
- 1 tbsp salt for poaching the curds
- ⅓ cup salt for brining the cheese
- Heat the milk up to 86F.
- Stir in calcium chloride, fully mixing in.
- Add the rennet, fully mixing in with up and down strokes for 2 minutes.
- Keep the mixture at 86F until the curd has formed (30-45 minutes).
- Cut the curd into roughly 1in cubes.
- Allow to settle for 5 minutes. Then slowly raise the temperature to 104F, raising it 2F and gently stirring every 5 minutes. Heat the curds for a total of 1 hours (including time to raise the temperature.)
- Drain the curds into a cheesecloth lined strainer with a bowl underneath to catch the whey. Save the whey for poaching.
- Leave the curds to drain for about 30 min, then either hang the cheese to further drain, or press it in a mold for 1 hour.
- After an hour heat the whey to 195F. At this point you will get a bit of fresh ricotta floating on the top of the pot. Scoop it out with a slotted spoon, and save for future use. (Bonus!)
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt into the pot of whey, Remove the halloumi cheese from the press and slice into 4-5 large slices. Put the cheese into the salted whey and keep at around 180F for 1 hour of poaching.
- After poaching, make a brine of ⅓ cup salt and 2 cups of water. Put the cheese into the brine and top with whey to cover (you will need at least 2 cups of whey). Allow to brine for at least 2 days or up to 2 months.
-Halloumi is traditionally made just with rennet; however, raw milk would already have a flora to provide flavour. If using store-bought milk, then I recommend kefir culturing the milk for about 6 hours prior to making the cheese. You don’t want the milk to be very acidic because this is not an acid cheese, but using slightly cultured milk will improve the flavour.
-Please read up on the detailed processes involved with cheese making if you are uncertain about any of the steps in this recipe.
-Halloumi can be brined in a cool room (18C) or in the fridge. Halloumi also freezes well.