Halloumi cheese : the product and its characteristics.
The characteristics (chemical, microbiological and organoleptic) of commercial fresh
and mature Halloumi cheeses were examined. In addition, the effect of the feeding
regime of lactating animals on the flavour of fresh Halloumi cheeses was also
Three different brands of Halloumi cheese (industrial, Traditional 1 and
Traditional 2), based on milk origin and location of the dairies, were selected for
subsequent analysis. The industrial cheese was made with bovine milk as the major
ingredient (an insignificant mixture of ovine/caprine milk might be included), while
the traditional cheeses were primarily manufactured with ovine milk (a small amount
of caprine milk might be included). The traditional cheeses also differed in the
location of the dairies, in that Traditional 1 cheese was manufactured in the province
of Paphos while Traditional 2 cheese was made in Nicosia province.
Differences were revealed both between the types of cheese and age, i.e. fresh
versus mature. The characteristics that differed included the microbiological load of
fresh samples, the type and quantity of flavour compounds, and the rate of proteolysis.
Some of the volatile compounds present in Traditional 1 cheese probably originated
from plants present in the grazing plains (thyme and burnet), while the mint added
during manufacture contributed, almost exclusively, to the plant volatile compounds
that were present in Traditional 2 cheese.
The sensory analysis identified significant differences between the three brands.
Moreover, the panels (young and older) assessed the cheeses in a different way,
reflecting a probable effect of panel age on sensory testing.
During the microbiological analysis of the mature traditional Halloumi cheeses
a new Lactobacillus species was recovered, which was named Lactobacillus
In order to improve the organoleptic characteristics of bovine Halloumi cheese,
two 'natural starter cultures' were isolated from raw milks and incorporated into
bovine milk for the manufacture of cheese in the laboratory. One selected starter
culture, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, was used to ripen the bovine milk prior to Halloumi
cheese manufacture, but its activity failed to bring about the anticipated results. The
degradation of protein and fat was monitored throughout the maturation of the cheese,
and only minor differences were observed between 'experimental' (starter culture)
and 'control' (no starter culture) Halloumi cheeses. The sensory analysis of fresh and
mature Halloumi cheeses reflected the results of the instrumental analysis, for the
panel did not detect any significant differences between 'experimental' and 'control'
In the light of the high frequency of occurrence of Enterococcus faecium in the
fresh samples of traditional commercial samples and ovine milks, it was decided to
assess the survival of the micro-organism under normal cheesemaking conditions.
Hence, Halloumi cheese with a starter culture of E. faecium was produced in the
laboratory. The results showed that some cells of E. faecium survived the harsh
cooking treatment (90°CI 1 h) of the cheese blocks during Halloumi cheese
manufacture. The experiments were not completed due to the controversy about
using Enterococcus spp. in cheesemaking.
Overall, the analysis of commercial and laboratory cheeses has given an insight
into the special characteristics of Halloumi cheese, and provided with a better
understanding of how flavour and texture develops with cheese maturation.