Making your own halloumi with cow milk
I’m gonna warn you upfront that this is going to be a very picture heavy post as I will go through the process and the various steps of making the halloumi. Seeing it visually always helps I think. I know it helped me a lot searching for information!
But – round of applause now please – I did it! I made my own halloumi and – more importantly – it was delicious!! As you know I’ve been part of the fabulous Cheesepalooza challenge for a couple of months now and we have made ricotta and chevre last month. I was really looking forward to the October challenge as I knew it would feature my all time favorite cheese halloumi. Halloumi is originally made from goat- and/or sheep milk but since I had neither and since you can also make it from cow’s milk, I did that.
I used commercial biological milk that they sell in the supermarket. Full fat, regular pasteurized milk. I am definitely going to make it again using goat’s milk but I have to go to Amsterdam for that so that will have to wait for another time. In the recipe by Mary it is said to use Mesophilic starter but that is not something you find here. I did ask the store where I buy my cheese moulds and such and he told me that it is basically a fancy word for buttermilk. So that’s interesting. Will do something with that next time too!
Heating the milk to 32 C is the first step you need to take in making the cheese. I was going to use the recipe for halloumi that I found on Peasepudding site, as I had those ingredients closeby and it sounded ook. After heating the milk you let it sit in an undisturbed place for about 20 minutes normally after adding the rennet. Mine didn’t look yet firm enough so I let it sit for another 20 minutes and that made the curd separate a bit better from the whey. It helps quite a bit that I have done this process now a couple of times. Even though the cheese are different, the process is remarkably similar sofar!
You then reheat the curds to about 35-38 C and gently stir for 20 minutes keeping the temperature contant. I started this on the stove but to keep it at the same temperature is quite a challenge so I moved it to a waterbath instead and kept it there.
You then lift the curds out of the pan and into a cheesecloth lined colander to drain, making sure to catch the whey as you’ll need that later! Hang it for about half an hour and then I transferred it to a cheese mould, that was ready and lined with cheesecloth again. You place a weight on top and let the curds solidify and drain of all the fluids. Now I think this is kind of where I was a little impatient (as usual). The recipe I used said to wait 30 minutes and I think that would have been enough if I had used raw milk. But the chemical reaction of processed milk tends to be different so it was pretty much solid but I should have left it a tiny bit longer. Two hours is my guess would have been perfect.
If you look at the above pic you can already see that the cheese is not as dense as it should be. O well, I figured I’d go with the flow and just see what would happen. So I reheated the whey and brought it close to 90 C and let the halloumi sit in that for about 20 minutes. According to the instructions it should float to the surface once done but mine floated instantly so I just kept the timing as per the recipe (see below for full recipe)
I was a little bit afraid that it would start to disintegrate at some point but thankfully it didn’t, so it stayed firm enough. After the cooking part I let it drain on a cooling rack sprinkled with some salt before dropping it into the brine. And then it was the waiting part!
And now comes the interesting part; I let my halloumi sit in the brine in the fridge for about 3 days before I wanted to test it. I still had a piece of halloumi also that I bought in the store which you see on the right. Mine is on the left. As you can clearly see the consistency is totally different. Mine looks a bit more like feta in terms of structure. I decided to bake them in butter as I read that I should do that instead of oil. I will be using oil again next time btw, but that is another story..
Zoals je kunt zien een behoorlijk groot verschil in textuur van de twee kazen. Die van mij ziet er een beetje meer uit als feta maar het grappige was dat bij het bakken van de halloumi, die uit de winkel dus smolt en die van mij niet!
Now the funniest thing happened once I put them in the frying pan. The storebought halloumi started to melt as you can clearly see in the picture above and mine stayed fairly firm. I had expected them to fall apart or crumble but it didn’t or at least not as much as I had thought it would.
Once fried you can see which ones are storebought and which ones are mine since the flatter ones became a little darker. But that was a really surprising result. The taste was delicious. Crunchy on the outside, nice and salty and maybe a tiny bit too loose in texture.
- Appearance: Looked very similar to feta before baking
- Nose (aroma): Not overly smelly at all, neutral
- Overall Taste: Salty
- Sweet to Salty: Salty
- Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): It’s not an overly strong cheese and quite mellow in taste really
- Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): Close to chewy but not as squeeky as the original halloumi is. Probably due to not being dense enough
O and I like my halloumi better when cooked in oil as the outside becomes much crisper and the browing process doesn’t take as long as with butter since you can heat the oil a little higher.
- 2 ltr pasturised full cream milk A2 Meadowfresh
- ½ tsp rennet Renco mixed with ½ tsp water
In a large stainless steel saucepan heat the milk to 32C, using a thermometer.
Add the rennet when milk has reached 32C and stir for a few seconds until you know that it is properly distributed
Let the milk sit with a lid on the pan in an unheated oven for about 40 miuntes or until a firm curd has formed and the whey is clearly separated from the curd.
Cut the curds into squares trying to keep them in the same size as much as possible.
Rest for 5 minutes, then using a waterbath keep the pan to 35-38 C and stir gently with your hand or a spoon. You can do this on the stove but I found it easier to control the temperature through a waterbath.
The squares should look smooth and lightly elastic.
Carefully drain the contents of the pan into a colander lined with cheesecloth and let it drain until the majority of the whey is gone. About 30 minutes.
Put the curds into a cheese mould. I used one of 750 gr content. You can use two smaller ones too if you prefer. Line the mould with cheesecloth put the curds in and cover with the cheesecloth. Put a chopping board on top and weigh it down with a pan filled with water.
Let it sit for at least an hour and maybe even longer then that until the cheese that comes out is quite firm.
Now cut the Halloumi cheese into pieces.
Reheat the whey to 85-90C, then turn heat off and add the halloumi pieces to the whey.
Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. The cheese will rise to the surface. Mine didn’t as it was probably not dense enough.
Take the cheese slices out, add a pinch of salt on each side and let them dry for a bit on a cooling rack.
Make a brine with 50% leftover whey, 50% boiling water and 10% salt and put the halloumi pieces in.
The halloumi will keep up to two weeks in the brine, in the fridge.