This week's cheesemaking exercise was halloumi. I love halloumi, there's something about the way the insides go all soft and gooey when you fry it, with the outsides being crisp and crunchy and soaking up the lemon juice with which you slather it. It's a bit expensive though, so if this turns out well it may be a regular manufacturing job in my house.
It's an odd procedure, making halloumi. Firstly you add culture (not sure if that's actually necessary) and rennet and let the milk set. Then you cut the curd and cook it ever so slightly - it goes from 30°C to 40°C. Setting the whey aside, you mix a bit of mint with the curds and press them fairly hard for a couple of hours. Then you slice the curd block and return it to the whey, which is by this time heated to 88°C. You leave the curd in the whey for an hour or so - it all floats to the top - then fish it out and salt it, then you store it in brine.
This is what it looks like while it's cooling:
That cooking at 88°C is what makes me think there's no real reason to add culture to the milk. After an hour at 88°C any culture has been well and truly killed, and it's not really in there long enough to have done anything to the flavour of the milk before that step.
I cut off a little bit to try - it wasn't salted enough, but I needed to see if it would behave properly in the frypan.
So that's 5 blocks of halloumi for $16, and they'd cost about $10 each in the shop. I could easily make this with cheap milk from the petrol station too, that'd halve the cost again. I will definitely be making this again.