Halloumi is officially recognized worldwide as a distinctive cheese indigenous to Cyprus.
Halloumi is an unripe, semi hard white cheese with a distinctive layered texture, which may well be eaten raw but also cooked, fried or grilled. The name ‘Halloumi’ is derived from the Greek word ‘almi’ – salty water.
The name probably linked with the salty brine which accompanies the cheese and adds to its better preservation. The name may also come from the Coptic ‘ialom’. Historical reports dating from the period of Venetian domination in 1554 confirm that halloumi was produced in Cyprus at the time.
Well-known writer, Fiorio Bustron notes in his writings that Cyprus produces, using sheep and goat milk, a cheese that was named “caloumi” in Venetian language which was prepared in March, a period where there is an abundance of best quality, full fat milk.
Halloumi was also renowned overseas as described by writer and traveler Richard Pococke in 1738 “they make (halloumi) cheese from goat’s milk, which is famous all over the Levant, and it is the only good cheese to be met in these parts; they are small and thick, much in the shape of ancient weights…”.
In those old times, halloumi in brine was an essential part of the people’s diet, especially so in the absence of any refrigeration facilities. For centuries now, Halloumi is being prepared according to a traditional recipe using raw materials and methods of production unique to the country and passed on from generation to generation. The production of halloumi cheese is taking place in modern processing manufacturing units, in Cyprus, that fully comply with the European regulations.
Halloumi contains fresh mint leaves, has a unique folded shape, a maximum moisture content of 45 percent, minimum fat of 43 percent in dry matter and 2.7-3 percent salt. It has to be kept refrigerated until it is consumed and can be easily stored for a long time at temperatures under -18° C. Its manifold serving possibilities render Halloumi unique in the world.
Whether fresh fried, baked, boiled or grilled, it tastes wonderful every season. Thanks to its mild spiciness, it can be combined with almost anything: it fits to fruit, especially to water melons, grapes, and figs, but also to tomatoes or other vegetables. Because of its ability to not melt or spread during roasting and grilling, it is distinguished from all other cheese. It can be a great accompaniment to many dishes and also as a substitute for meat.
Halloumi is registered in the European Union as a “Community Collective Trademark”, and as a Certification Trade Mark in various countries, including United Kingdom, United States of America and Jordan, while efforts are underway for its registration in Russia, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Arab countries. According to the Regulations of the mark, this is applied to products produced only in the Republic of Cyprus using raw materials and methods of production unique to the country; and no other country is allowed its marketing under that name. Should anyone be interested in more information about Halloumi cheese, they are welcome to contact the Trade Centre of the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Beirut, Lebanon.