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HOMEMADE HALOUMI

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup water, boiled and cooled

8 L non-homogenised pasteurised cow’s milk

8 mL vegetarian liquid rennet, Mad Millie Vegetarian rennet brand

non iodised salt, cooking or fine sea salt

dry mint

Fresh mint leaves

2 tsp citric acid

 

METHOD

Cheese curd formation

BOIL some water and keep ¼ cup aside to cool down. The boiling will dechlorinate the water. Shake the milk bottles to help get all the cream out. Then pour the milk in the pot and bring the temperature to 32-35°C.

DILUTE the liquid rennet in the cooled water and take the pot off the heat. Each liquid rennet varies in strength so you must read the bottle instruction first. For halloumi use double the recommended amount because there are no added cultures. Pour the diluted rennet in the warmed milk and stir it well.

COVER the pot with a towel and lid and set aside for 50min for the milk to set and form curds.

CUTTING THE CURDS 

USE a knife to cut the curds by cutting through about 2cm strips horizontally and then vertically. Then cut through at an angle all the way to the bottom of the pot to form smaller pieces.

BRING the temperature to about 40°C, then let the curds rest for 15min, with the lid on.

 

SEPARATING AND SHAPING THE CURDS

LINE a large strainer with a cheese cloth and place it on top of another large pot or bowl. YOU need to ensure you keep the whey (liquid) that is left behind as that will be used again. WRAP the curds with the cheese cloth and push out any excess whey that may be released in the pot they are resting on.

TO form the rectangular shaped halloumi, place the wrapped curds on small mesh cooling racks or cheese mats under a deep tray. Press the curds to make a rectangle of about 24x16cm. Don’t worry if it’s not the exact measurements but ensure the curds are well bound together as you are wrapping it.

ADD a wooden board on top of the wrapped curds and a weight on top of that e.g. a juice bottle, for about 40min. This is the most crucial part for your curds to hold well together while cooking. Hence make sure as much whey as possible is released and that the curds are bound well together.

AFTER the 40min, carefully unwrap the block of cheese curd and cut the rectangle to form three equal 8x16cm blocks. You may cut them smaller but remember after cooking you are folding them over so they will be halved in length.

 

COOKING THE CHEESE 

WHILE the curd is getting pressed, heat the whey to 93-95°C, do not let it boil. It will take about 10min to reach that temperature. Once the curds are ready and the whey has come to the right temperature, place the curds in the whey for about 45-50min.

GENTLY stir the bottom of the pot without agitating the cooked curds too much, just enough so they are not stuck to the bottom. Throughout the cooking process if a lot of foam is formed extract it.

ONCE the time has passed and the halloumi has been raised to the surface, use a slotted spoon to remove the halloumi.

CAREFULLY place the halloumi pieces on a cooling rack, on top of a deep dish to collect the liquids expelled. Around 900g-1.1kg of halloumi will be made depending on the brand of milk used.

 

BRINING AND STORAGE 

AS soon as you can touch the halloumi sprinkle some dry mint and ¾ -1 tbs (about 15-20g) of fine non iodised salt on both sides. Each block of halloumi will weigh about 300g so the amount of salt should be sufficient but this also may vary based on your taste. Place some fresh mint leaves in the middle and fold the halloumi over. Repeat with the other two blocks. 

LET the halloumi to cool down, allow the salt to be absorbed for a couple of hours and then you can enjoy it fresh or cooked. To store the halloumi, seal it well and place it in the fridge to consume within 3 days. Otherwise wrap it well it and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Read the blog post above for further storage/brining options.

Extracting whey ricotta

To make the ricotta, wait for the whey to cool to a temperature of about 85°C, add 2 tsp of non-iodised salt, then add 2tsp of citric acid slowly and keep stirring until the ricotta curds form. As a measure, for every 2L of milk used to begin with, add ½ tsp of citric acid. Keep the temperature between 85-87°C. The ricotta shouldn’t take long to form. Allow the ricotta curds to rest and bind together in the pot for about 7-10min. Then scoop them out, using a strainer, in the ricotta basket. Keep some of the whey in the draining basket as well to help preserve the ricotta. Enjoy the ricotta warm with some sugar/honey and cinnamon or you store it in the fridge to enjoy cold for up to 24hrs.

Miroula's recipe is a family secret. So we've shared a recipe by Eleni Georges (My Family's Food Diary)