Halloumi – The traditional cheese of Cyprus

One thing that you will surely have to do while in Cyprus is to taste halloumi, the traditional cheese of Cyprus. You will most likely do it without setting your mind on it because it is present in a large number of dishes.

Halloumi has some wonderful properties which make it a daily staple of the Cypriot diet. It is used in dishes and can also be eaten as an accompaniment to other dishes, and boasts the peculiarity that it will not melt when you grill or fry it.

This cheese is part of traditional Cypriot salads, sandwiches, morning eggs and as a side to meat dishes; just as easily it can be part of gourmet recipes and more strangely, it accompanies watermelon in the summer. If the not melting when fried or grilled didn’t interest you enough, then this last property just might.

There is commercial halloumi and traditional halloumi, the commercial one features a soft, almost rubbery layered texture and a very mild, salty taste, which the traditional variety is harder and has a much saltier flavor. The commercial version is becoming quite popular in Western cuisine, and even if the traditional variety was only made in villages by the locals, it too has started finding its way to supermarket shelves. The great thing about halloumi is that it comes packaged in salt water and its natural juices and by keeping it in this solution it will last for a very long time, if you freeze and hermetically seal it, you can keep it for up to a year.

There is a major difference between traditional and commercial halloumi, namely that traditional halloumi is made from a mixture of unpasteurized goat’s and sheep’s milk and that is what gives it its tremendous taste and characteristics. The commercial variety is made with pasteurized milk and it also uses a lot of cow’s milk, because it’s cheaper so the cheese’s characteristics suffer from it, both in taste and behavior.

The main characteristic of halloumi – namely its high melting point – stems from the fact that the substance is heated before it is shaped and then placed in the brine.

Halloumi is usually packaged with mint and this stems also from tradition when mint leaves were used as preservatives, however the minty taste worked great with the halloumi and it remained as a characteristic of the cheese even after the discovery of more modern preservation methods.

The best way of tasting traditional halloumi is to go and get it yourself from a village, and the best way to do that is to employ our Cyprus car hire services.