Years ago I got excited by cheese-making, but it went the way of all my hobbies once I realised that I needed a way of closely monitoring the temperature and humidity.
Then last week I saw that milk was on special offer in our local supermarket and thought I'd have a go at making halloumi at home. It doesn't need any special conditions because it's kept in the fridge in brine, so it's a lot easier.
- 2 litres of full fat milk
- 2 tsp rennet (I used Langdales)
- 50g sea salt (I made my own)
- A 30cm square of cheese cloth, or a clean tea towel
Heat the milk in a saucepan to 32°C, then add the rennet. Stir to mix it completely and then cover the pan and leave it for an hour or two.
The rennet acts on the milk proteins to turn the liquid into a strange semi-solid congealed mass - this is the curd. Cut the curd into cubes about 3cm across, and use the knife at an angle to cut across it a few times. Leave it for half an hour, after which time the whey should have started to separate out.
Put the pan on a very gentle heat and bring it up to 38°C. All the instructions I've read say to do this over half an hour, but that's very hard. It took me about 10 minutes to get up to temperature. Stir it very gently, and you'll see that the curds break up into small lumps in the greeny-coloured whey.
Line a colander with the cheese cloth and put it over a clean saucepan. Gently pour the curds into the cloth, making sure that you're saving the whey in the pan below. Once the whey has all drained off, you need to compress the remaining curds.
You could do this by simply putting a small plate on top of the curds and then resting some heavy cook books on top, or I bought a cheap cheese mould from eBay (I love eBay) which has holes that allow the whey to drain out. Leave it to press and drain overnight.
The next day, the curd will be a hard mass, which you need to cut into blocks about 5cm wide so the brine can cure it.
Heat the whey in a saucepan to 85°C and put the cheese into pan. Keep a close eye on the temperature, don't let it get too hot, and wait until the cheese floats to the surface. Some instructions said this will take about half an hour, but it was more like 15 minutes for me. Take the cheese out and leave it to cool.
Finally you need to make up the brine to cure the cheese in. Add 500ml of whey to 500ml boiling water, and stir in 50g of salt. Cool the liquid to room temperature.
Sterilise a large clean jar and place the cheese into it. Top up with the brine almost to the brim, and place a small piece of cling film on top of the surface of the liquid to stop the cheese drying out when it floats.
Leave it for a week, and then enjoy!
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