How to make Halloumi cheese
Cyprus sends 13,000 tonnes of Halloumi cheese abroad every year. The amount they keep for themselves must be a hundred times that. At least in Kalopanayiotis not a day goes by without eating halloumi. You will probably have it for breakfast on toast or with egg, for lunch in some ravioli, or in a salad for dinner. It is eaten 24/7. And for those who want to know how it’s made, we have Mrs Giota.
Mrs Giota keeps 200 goats on her farm in Evrihou. And she uses their milk to make the cheese. She brings a big saucepan to the village for people who want to watch her make it and she loves sharing her skills.
Surprisingly the ingredients are extremely simple. There is nothing in her halloumi apart from Goats milk, rennet and a little salt and mint.
“It’s completely organic” she says. “My goats live very happy lives, munching on the grass in our fields all day long.”
Before she begins her demonstration, she offers everyone a sweet cinnamon drink to sip as they watch.
First, she heats the saucepan of milk and adds the rennet stirring gently. Eventually the mixture settles and sets like jelly. She cuts the curd into cubes and spoons them out of the water with a sieve, placing them in baskets where they are drained.
“Now for the next part,” she says. “The anari.” She goes back to the big saucepan with the milk and continues to boil it until it froths. The froth turns into a soft cheese ,which she also takes out with a sieve.
“This is Anari. We can eat it like a dessert, with honey,” she says. She passes everyone a plate and they squeeze the local honey on it. “But don’t be fooled, there is much less fat in this cheese than in the halloumi.”
Anari is also eaten here with walnuts and cinnamon or in cheese pies with filo pastry.
After everyone has had a taste, Mrs Giota goes back to her halloumi pieces that are draining. She places them in small bags and drops them back into the milk that we’ve just taken the anari from. She boils them for 30 mins and then removes them, covers them in a bit of salt and dried mint, and folds them in two.
It is a surprisingly quick process. Although Mrs Giota has made halloumi many times, so perhaps she just makes it look easy. Before people leave, she offers them a taste of the fresh cheese.
Some prefer it soft and fresh and others more mature and harder. The taste depends on how long you leave the halloumi for. She explains how the cheese can be preserved in salt water for up to a year.
“But, my cheese is never left for a year,” she says. “My halloumi always disappears within seconds of making it.”