Halloumi was first made about 1,500 years ago—so why is it so popular now?
Well, it’s typically vegetarian—most halloumi is made with non-animal rennet. The global shift towards plant-based diets in the last decade has seen halloumi riding high.
It also has an unusually high melting point, so chefs can bake, grill or fry it as they would any other protein. The deliciously caramelized crust holds its shape perfectly—making for attractive plating—while the inside softens into a warm, bouncy paste that squeaks against your teeth.
Halloumi’s mild flavour just adds to its versatility—it enhances a whole range of recipes across all seasons, from spiced halloumi and watermelon skewers to halloumi-stuffed peppers.
On the nutrition front, not only is halloumi high in calcium, it’s a great source of protein, packing seven grams into a 28-gram serving.
Halloumi emerged in present-day Cyprus somewhere between AD 395 and 867. Sheep and goat milk were combined and heated until curds formed in the whey. When set, the curds were put back into the bubbling whey and simmered until they floated. Finally, the blobs were soaked in a salty brine and wrapped in mint leaves to keep them fresh.
The brine and mint preserved the cheese with no need for refrigeration—perfect for long journeys on sea and land.
The chemical magic behind halloumi’s low meltability lies first in the low acidity. In most cheesemaking, the milk is cultured with acids that dissolve the calcium structure. Because halloumi is instead coagulated in rennet, the calcium continues to hold it together. Second, when the pressed curd is heated in hot whey, the milk proteins become rigid, so the cheese is less inclined to stretch.
Today, the Cypriot recipe still uses sheep and goat milk, with a little cow milk blended in. The locals prefer to eat their halloumi fresh, served up with the mouth-watering local watermelon and grapes. Internationally, halloumi is more typically made from cow’s milk, which is what produces that distinctive squeak!
Our Mamma Lucia halloumi—a cow milk halloumi using non-animal rennet—is made to order in Australia. The light, milky flavour is infused with a salty finish. We love the touch of mint that harks back to the Cypriot tradition while also giving the halloumi a fresh lift on the palate. It’s also HACCP Accredited, AQIS Certified, Halal Certified and GM Free. A winner all round!