Cyprus Passion

Did you know that Halloumi is the national cheese of Cyprus? Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese made for centuries in Cypriot villages from either goat’s or sheep’s milk (or a mixture of the two). In modern times, there may be the addition of cow’s milk.

Halloumi cheese is endemic to Cyprus and originated during the Medieval Byzantine period. Cheese-making is an ancient practice in the Mediterranean, with the production of cheese from goat’s or sheep’s milk dating back in Greece to the 8th century BC. The recipe for Halloumi consists of fixed ratios of goat, sheep and cow’s milk, just as the product has been prepared in Cyprus since ancient times.


Halloumi is made with fresh milk that is curdled with rennet. The curds are stirred and drained. The whey is then heated and the halloumi is cut into pieces. The pieces are simmered for roughly an hour in the whey. The Halloumi is then cured in brine, possibly with dried mint. The mint was originally used as a preserving agent but is now considered part of the authentic flavour. The texture of the finished product is firm yet rubbery. The cheese can also provide a squeaky sensation when eaten.

Halloumi is used in a variety of ways. Eaten plain it is quite popular, but it is also fantastic grilled or fried. It is often served as part of a Cypriot meze in traditional tavernas. Cypriots also love to eat halloumi with watermelon because the contrasting textures and flavours make for a delicious summery snack. In sandwiches halloumi is also a great substitute for meat.


Due to the PDO status, the word “Halloumi” cannot be used on similar products that originate outside of Cyprus. In other words “Halloumi” can only be referred to as such, if it is manufactured in Cyprus alone. This is due to the importance of cultural preservation. It is to ensure the authenticity of the product and provide respect to the product’s heritage.

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