The History of Halloumi Cheese

The History of Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi is originated from the Middle Eastern as a Bedouin cheese made from ewes “Sheep pedigree exists mostly in Iraq, Syria and Jordan” and sometimes goats' milk and it is famous with the Squeaky texture this is why it is described as Squeaky cheese.

It is long-keeping, tough and salty in brine which makes it an ideal meal for nomadic lifestyle (The Ultimate Book of Top Ten Lists, Top ten cheeses you should try, Jami Frater).

Halloumi Cheese has been imported to island of Cyprus sometime before the Turkish invasion of 1571 by Mt. Vikos, Inc. (1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die, Frances Case, p. 311) 

The popularity of the cheese led to its production throughout the Middle East, Greece, Cyprus and throughout the world.

  • Going through the history, Halloumi was known to the world around 4,000 BCE specifically in the grasslands of Sahara where, in the hot climate, the only way to preserve milk was keeping it in the nature of hard salted cheese.
  • At that time, food storage was known by enhancing animal skins and animal inflated internal organs, and as a result, the process of cheese making was discovered as milk was stored in containers made from the stomach of a ruminant and then turned to curd and whey by the rennet remaining in the stomach.  This process was known to the Arab Bedouin who made a living by selling the end product to Arab traders for trading with Sumerians who were very familiar with the end product as Halum/Halloumi Cheese.
  • The method of Halloumi cheese making started by discovering the effect of curdling the milk in the animal stomach, which lead to the deliberate addition of Rennet, then by pressing and salting the curdled milk, and finally brine the cheese in salty solution method of preservation.

 About 2000 BCE in Egypt, the cuneiform text shows evidence of knowing and practicing similar process of Halloumi to end up with hard salted milk. Then later on the Coptic people used to name it Aloum/ Alum Which means Cheese (Introduction to the Coptic Folklore, Asem State, P.288).

While in Arabic language Halum (Arabic:الحَالُومُ ) or Halloumi حلومي means milk or yogurt that is thickened until it became similar to wet cheese (Arabic Dictionary, Al-Mu'jam Al- Jame'). 

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