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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eat. . . Homemade halloumi and ricotta cheese

Knitapotamus' Adventures in Cheeseland - Part 3!!
Fried, sliced halloumi with ratatouille
So, having gained some confidence from successfully making feta and mozzarella cheese in the last few weeks, I turned my attention to Halloumi (or "squeaky cheese!) This is one of my all-time favourite cheeses, and a pretty expensive one, so I was really keen to try making it. The recipe I was following called for 10 litres of milk, but I don't yet have a pan big enough for that, so settled for 5 litres Wangapeka Dairy milk instead. One of the great things about halloumi, is that while the halloumi is pressing you can make ricotta cheese from the whey, so two cheeses for the price of one! Here's what happened. . .

Heat milk up to 32C, add veggie rennet and once curds have formed, cut them up then cook them at 38C
I think it's the cooking at 38C for half an hour that gets the firm but elastic (& squeaky!) texture.

Pile the cooked curds into a large feta/halloumi frame 
The feta/halloumi frame above was from Mapua Country Trading.

Press the halloumi for half an hour whilst making ricotta from the whey
Heat up the whey to around 90C, add salt and vinegar and gradually strain off ricotta
About 200g of ricotta cheese, after draining in a muslin-lined sieve
Meanwhile, back to the halloumi. As you can see, this is quite a process - the most involved cheese-making episode so far!

Unwrap the pressed halloumi and cut it into 8 or 10 pieces
Lower the blocks of halloumi into 85-90C whey, to cook for 30 mins.
All the blocks of halloumi are added to the whey to be cooked together. Now, I don't think this is necessarily supposed to happen, but I found that while the halloumi cooked, little bits of ricotta curds kept coming to the surface for me to strain off and add to the rest in the sieve. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the tiny bits of ricotta curd floating in the whey. . . and you can also see some little bits of ricotta stuck to the halloumi blocks in the next photo.

Cooked halloumi blocks
Sliced halloumi fried in a tiny bit of olive oil
Sonny Jim's favourite way to eat halloumi is fried and drizzled with sweet chilli sauce
I have to say that for $10 worth of milk (5 litres) we got a big result! 900 grammes of halloumi cheese, and 200g of ricotta. I checked the prices in the supermarket yesterday and the halloumi was $8.95 for a 100g block, ricotta $5.50 for an equivalent amount. In other words, it would have cost us around $86 to have bought that much cheese from the supermarket!! Not that we even buy halloumi more than once a year usually, I have to admit. Of course we can't (and arguably "shouldn't"!) eat 900g of halloumi in one sitting, but luckily it keeps well in the fridge in a whey/water/salt brine, and we are sharing it around a bit too. The (low fat) ricotta keeps well in an airtight box in the fridge for several days. But who would have thought that my cheese-making endeavours could actually save us that much money?!! At least that is my spin on it, my ploy to keep on making cheese - I'm enjoying the cheese-making so much, and somehow no matter how much I make we seem to manage to eat it all up :) 


  1. Fantastic! I'm envious, we tried cream cheese once and failed so have yet to get the confidence back to give it another go :-)

  2. I empathise - my first attempt (mozzarella) was disastrous, and it put me off trying cheese-making again for a whole year! But I highly recommend giving it another go, though haven't actually tried making cream cheese myself yet. . .