It’s that delicious point in the year – vernal equinox. The time of year when day is equal to night. Yet there is still snow on the ground. It’s been a harder winter than usual, with more snow here than in a fair few years. The animals seem to be undeterred though – frogs spawning aplenty, lambs bouncing in the fields and courting displays from the garden birds.
At this time when we are coming to the last of the standing veg in the garden, an offer of raw unpasteurised cow’s milk for a nominal price has been warmly welcomed. And so begin the Halloumi Adventures!
Homemade halloumi is a bit softer than shop bought, and less squeaky, so suits the youngest child in the house. He has sensory processing issues – where some textures and sounds are obnoxious to him. Squeaky cheese is one of them!
There is a bit of equipment needed for this, but nothing you won’t already have if you are an inveterate jam maker. A large Maslin (jam) pan, a sugar thermometer, some muslin or a linen tea towel and a colander should do it. And some patience! This recipe will take an afternoon, so put on some tunes and have a clock ready.
5 litres raw milk
1/2 tsp vegetarian rennet
1/2 tbs salt
Slowly bring the milk up to around 35°C in the Maslin pan.
Add the vegetarian rennet, stirring gently.
Turn off the heat and let it sit for an hour. It will start to look like jelly.
Cut the curds with a long knife, slicing it into 1 inch cubes. You will see the curds come away from the watery whey. Leave it to settle for another half hour.
Start to heat the pan again and, very gently, bring the mixture up to around 38°C – take it slowly, this should take around half an hour.
Line a colander or large sieve with the muslin or tea towel, and place over another large container to collect the whey. Later we can use it for making ricotta – more on this in another post soon.
Scoop the soft curds out of the Maslin pan into the colander, and leave to drain for about about an hour. It will start to firm up.
Now it’s time to poach the curds. Slowly heat the whey to 85°C and add 1/2 tablespoon of salt.
While the whey is warming up, turn out the cheese out on to a chopping board and slice into 2in wide rectangles.
Watch the thermometer, and when the whey is at 85°C, gently place the cheese into the liquid using a slotted spoon.
The halloumi will rise to the top of the pan after 20 – 30 minutes. It is important to try to keep the liquid at 85°C during the poaching.
Remove the halloumi and drain again. It will be quite soft, but again will firm as it drains and cools down.
Then – it is ready to eat!
Pan fried or grilled, it is delicious on sourdough bread, with a drizzle of olive oil and a tomato and olive salad.
If you can’t eat it all at one, it is quite easy to store in brine:
Dissolve 100g salt in half a litre of boiling water. Add half a litre of whey.
Cool and pour the liquid over the halloumi and keep it in the liquid in an airtight container – it will keep for a month in the fridge (write the date onto the container).