Homemade halloumi and ricotta cheese is surprisingly easy to make. Halloumi is much softer than its shop bought counterpart and it stores incredibly well. Shop bought cheese can also be expensive, so for the nifty cook making it at home home can be a good money saver. The ricotta is just a by-product of the halloumi, which is made out of the leftover whey.
I followed the Guardian‘s halloumi recipe, which was great but it does make a lot, maybe around 1.25kg. Thankfully you can store the cheese in brine in the fridge which keeps it fresh for a month. You can half the recipe if you don’t want so much cheese, or if you don’t have a big enough pan. To keep it vegetarian make sure you hunt down vegetarian rennet, which is the magical liquid which separates the whey from the curds. You will end up with a lot of leftover whey, which is perfect for making ricotta.
Equipment you will need:
- A large heavy bottomed pan (I used a 10 litre Maslin pan)
- Thermometer which can measure between 32 and 85°C
- Muslin cloth or a fine tea towel
- Large sieve or colander
- Perforated spoon.
Homemade Halloumi cheese
- 10 l Full-Fat Organic Milk
- 11 tsp essence of vegetarian rennet
- 1 tbsp salt for poaching the curds
- 100g salt if you wish to later brine the cheese
- Gradually bring the milk up to 32-36°C in a wide-bottomed pan.
- Add the rennet, stirring gently.
- Turn the heat off and let the mixture settle for one hour. It will set like a junket or jelly.
- Cut the curd into roughly 1 inch cubes – do this by slicing the mixture in a grid pattern with a long thin-bladed knife.
- The curds will come away from the watery whey – let it settle for half an hour.
- Bring the mixture up to about 38°C over a very gentle heat over a period of half an hour.
- Using a large perforated spoon, scoop the curds into a sieve or colander lined with muslin or fine tea towel. Have another container positioned beneath to collect the drained whey.
- Leave to drain until firm, about 1 hour.
- When you are ready to poach the curds, heat the whey to 85°C and add 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Cut the curds by turning the cheese out on to a board and slice into oblongs about 2in wide.
- Ensure your whey is at 85°C and gently place the cheese blocks into the hot whey.
- When the cheese pieces rise to the top of the liquid, the is ready. This can take up to 30 minutes. Try to keep the whey at 85°C during this process.
- Place the cheese pieces back to your draining container. It will be quite fragile at first but will firm up quite quickly as it cools.
- Once cooled and the cheese is firm, it is ready to pan fry.
- Alternatively you may wish to brine the cheese as it will then keep for a month or so in the fridge. To do this add half a litre of the whey to half a litre of boiling water with 100g salt. Cool and pour the cooled salty liquid over the cheese pieces and keep them immersed in the liquid in an airtight container.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Homemade ricotta is a great way to use up leftover whey from making halloumi, mozzarella, paneer etc. Any whey you have left over can be kept to replace water in bread making, or use it to water acid loving plants. The equipment list is as above.
- Leftover whey. The above recipe should leave about 7 litres.
- 60ml white wine vinegar or juice of 2 lemons
- Heat the whey slowly to 95°C.
- Add the vinegar and gently stir. You should start to see very tiny white particles (the albumin protein) floating in the whey.
- Turn off the heat and let cool to about 65°C.
- Line a colander with muslin, placing a bowl underneath and pour the whey mixture through the cloth.
- Let it drain for a couple of hours.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.