Haloumi – that squeaky cheese from the Middle East usually made with a bit of goat’s milk in it. It's lovely first cheese to try to make, because it’s a bit more forgiving.

Makes

Preparation

30min

Cooking

45min

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 3.2 (116 votes)
Yum

"I sometimes add another step where I inoculate the milk with a yoghurt culture for an hour before adding the rennet. Simply warm the milk, add 2 tbsp natural yoghurt and whisk in well. Leave at room temperature, covered for an hour, then start the process below." Matthew Evans, Gourmet Farmer Series 4 

Get Matthews insider tips for making haloumi at home right here.

Ingredients

  • ¼ tsp (1.25 g) rennet (see Note)
  • 5 litres unhomogenised milk 
  • 6 tbsp (100 g) salt
  • clean muslin (cheesecloth) or use a brand new Chux

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Makes 600 g

Standing time 2 hours

Brining time 3 hours to overnight

Whisk rennet into 250 ml (1 cup) boiled then cooled water. If you’re using junket tablets, follow the instructions on the pack.

Heat the milk in a large saucepan over low flame, stirring regularly to prevent it from catching, until it reaches 36°C. You want to keep it close to 36°C for as long as possible, so it’s not bad to do this in a water bath.

Add the rennet mixture to the milk and stir thoroughly for 3 seconds. Use your spoon or whisk to stop the milk from moving (you need it completely still while the rennet is working). Cover and leave undisturbed for at least an hour, or until it has a nice set. Test this by gently placing your very clean hand on top and pulling the curd to one side to get a nice ‘crack’ in the curd, which will then weep out some whey. If it’s still too soft to get this crack, leave another half hour or so to set.

 

Once the curds are set, make sure the temperature is still about 36°C, and use a long knife, such as a bread knife, to cut the curd into 1 cm squares by slicing vertically in one direction, then again at right angles. Then hold your knife at an angle and cut through the curd as much as you can from the side to create roughly 1 cm cubes or equivalent.

Allow the curds to sit for 10 minutes, then gently stir the curds as you reheat the curd to 40°C over a period of about 10 minutes. Line a colander with a layer of muslin or a clean Chux, leaving enough to cover the top of the cheese. Place a big bucket or pot underneath to catch the whey, then drain the curds through the lined colander and wrap the cloth over the top.

Put a plate on top that will cover most of the cheese and top with about 1 kg of weight. Leave an hour or two to really knit together, then cut into slices about 1 cm thick. You can poach it as a whole piece, too, if that works for you. 

 

Reheat the whey in a clean pan over a high flame until just below simmering, and add 1 tbsp of salt. Scoop any ricotta that forms on top (and eat it warm with honey and crushed roasted hazelnuts!), then add the cheese to the pan. Poach gently until the cheese rises to the top of the whey, carefully remove with a slotted spoon, and drain. You can eat it straight away, but it’s better after being brined.

To make a brine solution, mix together the remaining 5 tbsp of salt and 1.5 litres water, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pop the cheese in a sterile jar, top up with the brine and leave in the fridge a day, or at least a few hours, before using.

The cheese should last a week or two, though it will get saltier with time.

 

Cook's note

• Rennet is available from cheesemakers suppliers, such as Cheeselinks online. You can try to use unflavoured junket tablets, which I’ve found more tricky to manage. If you do use them, follow setting instructions on the pack.

 

Matthew Evans is back in his brand-new series of Gourmet Farmer, 8pm Thursday nights on SBS and on SBS On Demand.