Whether it’s fried, grilled or used as a standing for a sandwich filling, halloumi cheese has exploded in the past decade. Partially spurred on by the increased uptake of vegetarianism, this social feed filling cheese is seemingly in everything – but what is it?
What Is Halloumi Cheese?
Hailing from Cyprus, halloumi is a cheese made from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. However, modern production of halloumi has started to introduce cow’s milk into the cheese-making process so be sure to try both offerings before making a decision on which is your favourite.
And although it might share a marketing room with mozzarella, it could not be more different; halloumi cheese has a very high melting point for a traditional cheese and is very well suited to frying and grilling. If you tried to substitute halloumi for another, softer cheese, you would end up will a melted pool instead of a dense slab.
Speaking of the texture, it can depend on its preparation. If you eat it raw, it presents an oddly rubbery and somewhat salty eating experience and one that few people enjoy. However, in contrast to this, when it is cooked, either through grilling or frying, it takes on an entirely different persona. It develops a crispy exterior that is excellent at retaining its moisture between slices of bread, whilst also transitioning into a more savoury tasting cheese.
The production of halloumi style cheese is trademark protected by a variety of Cypriot agencies in different countries, with strict regulations on what constitutes proper halloumi.
How Do We Eat It?
How don’t we eat it is a better question! Traditionally, where it was made, it was used just like any other cheese. It wasn’t until recently that it gained its swiss-army knife reputation as the go-to cheese for rich and fast meals (or should that be halloumi-army knife).
The most recognisable way to eat halloumi cheese is, of course, grilled. Possessing deep grill marks, this type of halloumi preparation is immediately recognisable as there are very few cheeses that can resist the urge to melt under such high heat. This property transfers well into fried foods, as although some recipes may benefit from a melted interior (looking at you, mozzarella sticks), halloumi fries benefit even more from the semi-hard, yet squeaky bite that is still toothsome and with body.
The taste of halloumi cheese is best described as savoury, yet creamy. It is for this reason that it works great as a secondary component in other recipes. Burgers topped with fried halloumi are effectively able to add an additional burger patty but in a much lighter form factor.
How Long Does Halloumi Cheese Last?
Once you have broken the seal on your halloumi cheese, as long as you keep it refrigerated you have about two weeks before you should start to worry about it. When in doubt, the easiest way to check is with your nose! That same piece of cheese can be kept in the freezer for about 2 months, but make sure that you wrap it tightly to prevent any freezer burn!
If the cheese is unopened, then it can last upwards of a year in the fridge, but let’s be real – I can’t keep it in my fridge for longer than a week before I’ve started eating it.