Halloumi

Halloumi Cheese
Here is my intro about Cyprus Halloumi;

I cannot imagine my self having breakfast without some fresh Halloumi. Halloumi cheese is the main dish in the Cypriot breakfast meal; along side some fresh fruits and or vegetables. You want some change? Have it made on the grill. For a non-melting cheese the grilled Halloumi satisfies more difficult tastes of people. Very delicious!

Fried Halloumi is just another way to have it srved as a sub-dish for a main meal, it is so appetizing. Also, you can have it grated on top of pasta and other dishes. It is so delectable.

In other words, with no exaggeration, it is used in anyway you like it.

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History of Halloumi cheese;

Halloumi is a cheese that styled the tables of Cypriots for many centuries. And when you say Halloumi, automatically the name Halloumi is connected to Cyprus.

The Halloumi cheese according to legends and available data has been produced since hundreds of years in Cyprus for domestic use and for export. Most probable the name Halloumi originated from the ancient Greek word that means “salt”.

The first references that link Halloumi with Cyprus date back to 1554 AD.

However, in the ancient days it was the job of women to make Halloumi. And they only used utensils and equipment only from the village they are in and never imported anything from outside Cyprus. However, many times since there was sufficient goats and sheep for each household to produce cheese, females from each family used to make pool of milk to produce cheese and distribute it among the cheese community members they formed at that time. The Halloumi making was seasonally, and was only for household family use. Then day after day, it changed to be as income generator. Most of villager and shepherds engage everyday from 6 A.M till midday in the process of cheese production for resale. halloumi1

Now, it is produced with the help of factory dairies (though it is labor concentrated). However, in both traditional hand made and factory made the Halloumi preserves the original ingredients of sheep and goat milk.

Till now there are some traditionally hand made Halloumi found in rural areas and villages in Cyprus but they are expensive and sold only through direct marketing.

Halloumi is now registered in USA under Cyprus origin as well as in Canada under the code. However, it is still pending registration in the EU because of some debate about the kind of milk used goat, sheep or cow milk.

Now let me share with you some information about what is really Halloumi Cheese;
Halloumi cheese is made out of raw sheep milk added to it some mint in most cases, while in some cases it is produced from a mixture of sheep milk and goat milk with the addition of some mint. The Halloumi cheese is stored in its natural juices with salt and water. The Halloumi has an oval shape or half a circle. It is soft to semi-hard and it is salty. Some people say it is much salty but this is Halloumi and this is one characteristic which makes it a special cheese. The traditional fine Halloumi contains no preservatives and the milk is not pasteurized. halloumi2

However, any change in its components, the milk origin for example, makes a change in taste. Some commercial Halloumi contains cow milk to lower costs but on the other hand it makes a lot of taste variation and loses its traditional delicious taste.

The original flavor is salty, mellow and tangy unlike most other cheeses. On the other hand it is springy in texture.

Why not have a look at how that worldwide famous cheese is made:

The milk heated in a cauldron. And then rennet is added to the mixture for the curdling process. The curds set into soft cheese which is removed from the whey and cut. The next step in forming the Halloumi is to be pressed. After that, the Halloumi is re-cooked to form the rubbery texture. After being sprinkled with a mixture of water, salt and mint the Halloumi is then reserved in brine so no bacteria development occurs after being folded to take the shape of oval or half circle.

Even the rennet in the early days of Halloumi development in Cyprus was natural animal rennet. However, Things have changed nowadays. For example boilers now can handle up to hundreds of litter at one time. Wooden equipments are now changed into stainless steel ones.

Basically, both traditional and modern ways of producing Halloumi are alike in means of steps but differs in milk mixture ratios (cows’, sheep’s, and goats’).

My tips for enjoying different tastes of Halloumi:
  • First of all look for CYPRIOT HALLOUMI. Its is the best among all.

I know someone would ask if it is fatty. Of course original Halloumi is fatty since it is made from raw milk. But we it is likely to find in supermarkets nowadays “light Halloumi, or diet Halloumi”. So no worries you still can eat it. When you go to buy Halloumi make sure you have the sheep or goat/sheep Halloumi. It tastes better than the cow one.

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If you want to make the Halloumi less salty, put it in water for 5-10 minutes, it becomes softer and loses some salt.

  • Most restaurants and pubs in Cyprus serve slices of Halloumi as tasters when you order beer. It tastes very nice since it is salty and the beer is very cold!
  • Halloumi is also very delicious when fried. The look itself is delicious. When fried the top layer becomes gold in color and the inside becomes soft making a very amazing taste.
  • It can be served with slices of fresh tomato. The tomato compensates for the salty taste of the Halloumi to make a perfect unforgettable taste.
  • Halloumi can be grated to be toping for any kind of pasta.

  • Sometimes I make home made Halloumi sandwiches. Regular Halloumi, slice it, add tomato slices or olives or whatever you like, for example lettuce. You can put that sandwich in the toaster or you can have it like it is cold.

  • Try Halloumi slice while eating melon. Very famous in Cyprus to find people eating slices of melon with slices of Halloumi. The feel of thirst Halloumi gives you is washed out with the melons watery slices.

  • Green salad is normally topped with grilled slices of Halloumi. With olive oil ….enjoy the experience.

  • Grilled? Hmmm. You must try it, it is not hard to grill Halloumi and experience the new taste of cheese. Slice Halloumi, grill it until the outer side becomes deliciously golden-brown and the inside becomes soft and eat it! Yummmmmy

  • Me myself, I like it grilled. And I have never seen any kind of cheese that tastes better when grilled.

  • Virgin olive oil can be added with black pepper for most of Halloumi dishes to add extra fine taste.

  • Don’t forget what I mentioned in my introduction about Halloumi breakfast and Halloumi with beacon and eggs.

  • Not to mention the many many more ways to enjoy a Halloumi meal.

BON APETITE

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