It’s been ages. I’ve been distracted, on too many weekends away and neglecting the cheese, but I’m back again. I’ve made halloumi before but this time, thanks to Brixton farmers markets, I got to try with raw milk (half buffalo, half cow). The buffalo milk and the rawness were both new for me. What was particularly noticeable about using unpasteurised milk was that the milk came together together much more – the curds were firmer, more tightly bound – or so it appeared. The other main thing I noticed was that the curds smelt much stronger, in much the same way that goat curds are distinctly pungent, the buffalo curds were as well. This translated into a much stronger tasting cheese.
If you’ve seen my earlier post, then the recipe is not very different, only this time I used 2 pints of raw organic buffalo milk and 2 pints of raw organic cows milk.
In case anyone wants it again (and I did make a few minor changes), these are the details of what I did. Heat the milk up in a water bath to 36C, add in 10 drops of rennet (diluted into a dessert spoon of purified water). Cover and keep around this temperature for 55 minutes. I do this by keeping the water bath at around 39-40C. Once the cheese has set, cut the curds into 1-2cm cubes – use a long knife (which goes to the bottom of the pot) to cut the curds into 1-2cm slices, then cut again into slices at a 90 degree rotation, then cut again but this time on a diagonal, so that you are cutting through each slice. Leave the curds to settle for 5 minutes, then slowly warm (by heating the water bath) to 37C. Stir gently, and rest for 20 minutes.
Scoop out the curds (but keep the whey!) into a cloth-lined straining container – I used two, my cheddar mould and a strainer – and press with heavy weights. The actual amount varies in recipes and I don’t have any actual weights, so I used my press and just pushed it down til it felt like there was reasonable pressure. Leave for 50 minutes.
After pressing, unwrap the cheese and cut into 1 cm slices (like above). Heat up the leftover whey (and any you’ve collected from pressing) to 90C, put in the slices, and cook for around 10-15 minutes until they float. Scoop them out, salt each side and fold in half with some fresh mint. Make up a brine solution from 50% water, 50% whey, with 10% salt, add the cheese and refrigerate.
One thing I am confused about it that some recipes call for a culture to be added and others don’t. I just used rennet here, without any mesophilic starter. If anyone knows which is best (or more traditional) and why there are both options, I’d love to know.