Half hour halloumi
4 litres milk: fresh or whole (4%, not homogenised)
2ml microbial rennet or 2 tsp| 10ml calf or vegetarian rennet (200 IMCU)*
1 tbsp cooled, boiled water
1 tsp plain salt
*Note: If using liquid, tablet or granular rennet, double the quantity that you would normally use for a regular cheese
Brine (10%): 370g | 13 oz plain salt to 4 litres | 1 gal cooled, boiled water
Prep time 30 minutes
Pressing time 1-2 hours
If you are fond of barbecuing, this very quick version of Cypriot halloumi is the one for you.
It’s made in a fraction of the time of real halloumi and will still give you that golden crusty exterior and nearly-melting moist centre when fried or grilled. Its elastic squeaky curd makes a stunning contribution to any meal, and no-one will believe it only takes 30 minutes.
All you need to make it is milk, rennet and a cake tin. The long recipe takes about 2 hours with an additional 4 hours of pressing, so try this quick version and compare the results.
1. Warm the milk in a bain-marie to 43°C over 5 minutes.
2. Dilute the rennet (I use Hannilase microbial rennet) in 1 tbsp of cooled, boiled water, then add to the milk. Stir gently for 30 seconds to combine but don’t whisk or make bubbles. Put a sanitised lid on the pot and leave it for 5 minutes.
3. Test the curd by cutting across the middle to the bottom of the pot. If you have a clean break, where the edges of the cut are sharp and there is lemon juice-like whey in the middle, cut into 1cm cubes. If not, wait a few more minutes and check again. Once cut, leave to rest for 2 minutes – lots of whey should be weeping from the cuts you have made.
4. Maintain the temperature at 43°C – add hot water to the outer pot of the bain-marie if required – and stir gently for 5 minutes. Cut any large pieces of curd to the size of peas but be careful as too much moving around will make the curd look like scrambled egg. The curd should get firmer, springing back when pressed between your fingers like spongey rubber.
5. Place a sanitised cheesecloth-lined colander over a larger sanitised bowl or pot. Pour the curds and whey into it. Retain the whey.
6. Line a mould with sanitised cloth. Add the curds to a depth of 3-4cm. My mould is one I made from a baking pan (23 x 33cm) by drilling holes into its base. Press down with your fingers. Lay a second sanitised cloth over it, then a similar-sized, sanitised tray or
wooden board on top of that. Place a 2 litre bottle of water on top of that (I lay a 2-litre milk container filled with water on its side in the top tray) and leave to press for 5 minutes.
8. While the halloumi is pressing, transfer the whey that you’ve collected into a wide-bottomed pot and heat it to 90°C.
9. Remove the weight, lift the halloumi out of its mould by the cloth and place on a sanitised board. Remove the cloth. The curd should be firm and resemble a block of pastry.
10. Cut the halloumi into bars of soap-sized pieces or the size that you prefer. Place them gently into the hot whey until they float, about 2 minutes or so. Remove the halloumi slices from the whey and place on a sanitised board. Sprinkle one side with salt, then turn over and sprinkle the other side. Use a 10% brine if you want to store them.
• While the milk is heating, prepare the rennet and line the mould.
• While the curd is pressing, heat the whey in a wide-bottomed pot so you can place as many slices of curd to boil up at one time as possible.
• You can place the boiled curd straight into iced salt water to cool down quickly or leave it on a board.
• Cut it into narrow strips, bake, grill or fry it and you have crunchy, delicious chips. When raw it resembles rather bland, rubbery tofu but it comes into its own when mixed with anything spicy or acid.
3 important safety tips
Halloumi has no added bacterial starter and a very low acid content, making it an ideal host for bad bacteria. To avoid this:
• Refrigerate your cheese straight away.
• Don’t take the cheese out of the fridge until you are ready to cook it.
• Make sure that you use plenty of salt in your brine.
© Jean Mansfield, How to Make Cheese, www.makecheese.co.nz