The most famous cheese of the island is undoubtedly halloumi! It is a semi-hard cheese, which can be consumed in many different ways. It has a characteristic texture and is fantastic both raw and cooked (grilled or fried). It is impossible not to encounter the well-known halloumi during your visit to the island, either as an ingredient in a sandwich or in the traditional Cypriot meze or even at your breakfast! Halloumi is now a PDO product of Cyprus.
This white, semi-hard cheese has been produced on the island for centuries, and to be considered authentic halloumi, it must be made from a certain amount of goat’s or sheep’s milk in villages where the milk itself is produced. It can also be made from cow’s milk (usually in large dairy units) or even from a mixture of all three types of milk. Mint is also added to salty halloumi and has a long shelf life.
There are endless ways to enjoy halloumi. When raw it can be combined perfectly with watermelon or with rustic bread and olives. When grilled it becomes softer and “rubbery” and is especially popular in combination with the lounge in sandwiches. Grilled on the coals is an integral part of the Cypriot meze. When fried with eggs, it acquires a delectable taste and is used as a filling in Cypriot ravioli. When added to hot soup, trachana or eggnog becomes extremely soft and can be added to various dishes such as pasta.
Halloumi is prepared in special large bronze containers. After the rennet is added, the curd is removed from the heat, dried very well, and then wrapped in a piece of clothing and placed under a heavy object to remove any remaining whey.
The cheese is then cut into pieces and dipped again in warm whey until it emerges on the surface. The pieces are then placed in salt and mint, folded in half. When they cool very well, they are placed again in warm whey.