Homemade Halloumi

After successfully making mock ricotta I got bitten by the cheese making bug. So I ordered a little cheesemaking set on Ebay which contains; a cheesecloth, bottle of rennet and a starter culture. I still need to make the starter culture (looks like making yogurt I guess). But I wanted to get started immediately so I went ahead and made some Halloumi. Halloumi is unusual in that you don't need a starter culture to make it, just milk and rennet. It also appears to be a perfect beginners cheese because it turned out really lovely even if I did sometimes had some trouble with my temperatures. I'm using a combination of two different recipes, this one from curd nerd, and this one from cheesemaking.com.


  • 5 l  (raw) milk
  • 3.5 ml  rennet (animal or veggie)
  • salt (without iodine)
  • dried mint (I used some Moroccan mint used for tea, as long as it is 100% mint you're good)

*  You are going to want to make ricotta with the left over whey (even more awesome than the pure milk ricotta). You will need another 1/2 l milk and either citric acid, lemon juice or white wine vinegar.

Step 1
First you need to heat the milk to 31 c. Which I did by placing the pan in the sink and filling it with hot water. This way there is no chance of it heating up to quickly. Dissolve the rennet in a little bit of cooled down boiled water and add to the milk, now stir it to mix in the rennet. I put the lid on the pan and moved the pan to the table and wrapped it in a blanket to keep it warm. 

Step 2
The rennet should do its job in about 40 minutes to an hour. You are looking for the fabled 'clear cut' which means so much as that if you slice the curds it breaks away clean.

Once the curds look good it is time to cut them into 1 cm (I accidentally went a bit large) squares. 

 After cutting the squares from the top let the curds rest for 5 minutes, then slice the curds horizontally with a ladle or spoon. Give them another 5 minutes.

Step 3
Now it is time to warm up the curds again. You want it to hit about 40 c. I could't believe how quickly that went and questioned my thermometer so I accidentally went to 44 but this didn't harm the cheese. Once it hit 40 you want to keep it there for a while, maybe 15 mins or so, stirring occasionally so the curds stay separate.

Step 4

Now it is time to transfer the curds. I don't have any fancy cheese baskets (yet...) so I just used a sieve lined with cheesecloth suspended above a container for the whey. I used a slotted spoon to lift out the curds. Once all the curds were transferred I folded the cloth over and put a plate on top stacked with these highly sophisticated cheese weights. I let the cheese settle for a little more than an hour, turning the cheese twice. (every 20 mins)

Step 5
While the cheese does its thing you can make some proper ricotta from your whey. Heat the whey to 65 c and add you acidifyer. Recipe stated 1 and a half teaspoon of citric acid but I ended up using 2 teaspoons and some emergency lemon juice later. Don't know why but I always end up using more acid than prescribed (except with Jamie Oliver's whole bottle of vinegar recipe).  Now go to 75 and add a good teaspoon of salt and the other half liter milk. Heat this to near boiling (90) and keep it there for a couple of minutes while stirring. Turn of the heat and let the ricotta rise to the service for 15 minutes. These were such fine curds that the slotted spoon wasn't very effective so I passed the whey through a fine sieve. And ended up with a little pot of incredibly soft creamy ricotta. Don't discard  the whey because you'll need it for the halloumi.

Step 6

Now it is time to cook the halloumi. My cheese looked like this after pressing. 

Soft but firm. Those aren't cracks by the way, just cheesecloth impressions.  My cheese just about fits into the whey pan but you could cut it at this point. Heat the whey to 95 c and carefully transfer the cheese into the hot whey. Keep a ladle in the pan to prevent the cheese sticking to the bottom. Now cook the cheese until it comes floating to the top. It took about 15 minutes in my case and I gave it another 5 just to be sure. Now transfer the cheese to a fancy cheese mat if you have it (I don't). A cooling rack covered with cheesecloth worked fine.

Step 7

Once the cheese has cooled down a little bit you sprinkle it with salt and the crumbled dried mint. Now flatten the disc slightly with your hands. Fold the disc over and let it rest for a bit with a weight on top. I let the cheese rest for 30 minutes before cutting it and putting it in a brine. The brine is made from 20 g salt in 1 l water.

You can cut of a little piece now and taste it. The brine will impart the saltiness so the cheese was a little bland (easily fixed with an extra sprinkle of salt) but really nice already. The mint is not at all toothpasty but imparts that characteristic halloumi flavour. It also has that typical halloumi squeak. As it is now it would be great in a salad. 

I took one piece out of the brine the next day and grilled it (as seen on the picture). The cheese is already delicious, but for optimum flavour and grilling it needs to loose a little bit more moisture to the brine and take up a little bit more salt. So while I might use some in a salad now I will wait another 3 - 4 days before making my beloved sesame crusted halloumi.

All in all I feel this first foray into cheese making has been a success and next time I'll try making some soft cheese with the cheese culture.

Easy cheese making kits are a great way to start with cheese making. I think I'll try mozzarella next.