Halloumi
Overview
 
Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot
Cypriot cuisine
Cypriot cuisine is the cuisine of Cyprus and can be described as a blend of Greek cuisines. Greek Cypriot cuisine is another regional Greek cuisine along with Cretan, Ionian, or Attic....

 cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

 that is also popular in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 (2nd biggest consumers of the cheese in the world after Cyprus) and the rest of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, and is now produced in many countries and regions around the world. It is made from a mixture of goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

s' and sheep milk
Sheep milk
Sheep's milk is the milk of domestic sheep. Though not widely drunk in any modern culture, sheep's milk is commonly used to make cultured dairy products. Well-known cheeses made from sheep milk include the Feta of Greece, Roquefort of France, Manchego from Spain, the Pecorino Romano , the Pecorino...

, although some halloumi can be bought that also contains cows' milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried
Frying
Frying is the cooking of food in oil or another fat, a technique that originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC. Chemically, oils and fats are the same, differing only in melting point, but the distinction is only made when needed. In commerce, many fats are called oils by custom, e.g...

 or grilled
Grilling
Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above or below.Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat quickly and meat that has already been cut into slices...

.
Encyclopedia
Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot
Cypriot cuisine
Cypriot cuisine is the cuisine of Cyprus and can be described as a blend of Greek cuisines. Greek Cypriot cuisine is another regional Greek cuisine along with Cretan, Ionian, or Attic....

 cheese
Cheese
Cheese is a generic term for a diverse group of milk-based food products. Cheese is produced throughout the world in wide-ranging flavors, textures, and forms....

 that is also popular in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 (2nd biggest consumers of the cheese in the world after Cyprus) and the rest of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, and is now produced in many countries and regions around the world. It is made from a mixture of goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

s' and sheep milk
Sheep milk
Sheep's milk is the milk of domestic sheep. Though not widely drunk in any modern culture, sheep's milk is commonly used to make cultured dairy products. Well-known cheeses made from sheep milk include the Feta of Greece, Roquefort of France, Manchego from Spain, the Pecorino Romano , the Pecorino...

, although some halloumi can be bought that also contains cows' milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried
Frying
Frying is the cooking of food in oil or another fat, a technique that originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC. Chemically, oils and fats are the same, differing only in melting point, but the distinction is only made when needed. In commerce, many fats are called oils by custom, e.g...

 or grilled
Grilling
Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above or below.Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat quickly and meat that has already been cut into slices...

. Halloumi is set with rennet
Rennet
Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced in any mammalian stomach to digest the mother's milk, and is often used in the production of cheese. Rennet contains many enzymes, including a proteolytic enzyme that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids and liquid...

 and is unusual in that no acid or acid-producing bacterium is used in its preparation.

Cypriot halloumi

Halloumi cheese originated in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 and was initially made during the Medieval Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 period, subsequently gaining popularity throughout the rest of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 region.

The cheese is white, with a distinctive layered texture, similar to mozzarella
Mozzarella
Mozzarella is an Italian Traditional Speciality Guaranteed food product. The term is used for several kinds of Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting :...

 and has a salty flavour. It is stored in its natural juices with salt-water and can keep for up to a year if frozen below −18 °C (0 °F) and defrosted to +4 °C (39 °F) for sale. It is often garnished with mint
Mentha
Mentha is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae . The species are not clearly distinct and estimates of the number of species varies from 13 to 18. Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally...

 to add to the taste. Traditionally, the mint leaves were used as a preservative, this practice arising from the serendipitous discovery that Halloumi kept better and was fresher and more flavourful when wrapped with mint leaves. In accordance with this tradition, many packages of halloumi contain fragments of mint leaves on the surface of the cheese.

The cheese is much used in cooking and can be fried until brown without melting, owing to its higher-than-normal melting point. This makes it an excellent cheese for frying
Frying
Frying is the cooking of food in oil or another fat, a technique that originated in ancient Egypt around 2500 BC. Chemically, oils and fats are the same, differing only in melting point, but the distinction is only made when needed. In commerce, many fats are called oils by custom, e.g...

 or grilling
Grilling
Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above or below.Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat quickly and meat that has already been cut into slices...

 (e.g. in saganaki
Saganaki
Saganaki refers to various dishes prepared in Greek cuisine and is named after the single-serving frying pan in which it is cooked....

) or fried and served with vegetables, as an ingredient in salads. Cypriots like eating halloumi with watermelon
Watermelon
Watermelon is a vine-like flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is a special kind referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind and fleshy center...

 in the warm months, and as halloumi and lountza - a combination of halloumi cheese and either a slice of smoked pork, or a soft lamb sausage.

The resistance to melting comes from the fresh curd
Curd
Curds are a dairy product obtained by curdling milk with rennet or an edible acidic substance such as lemon juice or vinegar, and then draining off the liquid portion. The increased acidity causes the milk proteins to tangle into solid masses, or curds. The remaining liquid, which contains only...

 being heated before being shaped and placed in brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

. Traditional halloumi is a semicircular shape, about the size of a large wallet, weighing 220-270 g. The fat content is approximately 25% wet weight, 47% dry weight with about 17% protein. Its firm texture when cooked causes it to squeak on the teeth when being chewed.

Traditional halloumi is made from unpasteurised sheep and goats milk. Many people also like halloumi that has been aged; kept in its own brine, it is much drier, much stronger and much saltier. This cheese is very different from the milder halloumi that Western chefs use as an ingredient.

Although it is made worldwide and is of rather disputed origin due to the mixed cultures in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 and East Mediterranean, halloumi is currently registered as a protected Cypriot product within the US (since the 1990s) but not the EU. The delay in registering the name halloumi with the EU has been largely due to a conflict between dairy producers and sheep and goat farmers as to whether registered halloumi will contain cow’s milk or not and if so, at what ratios with sheep and goat’s milk. If it is registered as a PDO (Protected designation of origin
Protected designation of origin
Protected Geographical Status is a legal framework defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. Protected Designation of Origin , Protected Geographical Indication and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed are distinct regimes of geographical indications within the framework...

) it will receive similar status as 600 or so other agricultural products such as feta
Feta
Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese,...

 and parmesan cheese.

Egyptian hâlûm

Egyptian hâlûm is eaten fresh or brined and spiced, which is called mishsh.

Etymology

The word halloumi comes from ancient Egyptian via the Coptic
Coptic language
Coptic or Coptic Egyptian is the current stage of the Egyptian language, a northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century. Egyptian began to be written using the Greek alphabet in the 1st century...

ialom.

Nutritional facts

100 g of commercially produced packaged halloumi has a typical composition of:
Fat 26 g
Carbohydrate 1.8 g
Protein 22 g
Energy 322 kcal
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