Halloumi originates from Cyprus and is a semi-hard, chewy white cheese. It is made from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk, or sometimes even a combination.
Halloumi has a very mild salty flavor, and it cooks up wonderfully thanks to its firm texture. Halloumi manages to retain its texture and flavor even when exposed to high temperatures.
Many people consider halloumi a delicacy, so finding it on sale at the grocery store is a bonus.
So can you freeze halloumi? Yes, halloumi does hold up well when frozen. Most types of cheese can actually be frozen for up to 6 months, with little deterioration of quality, but halloumi does actually fair better than most. This is mostly due to its unique, semi-hard texture, and the way it is cooked. There might be a slight texture change, but not enough to ruin the cheese, and the flavor does stay intact after freezing.
Read on to find out the different ways to freeze halloumi.
The Complete Guide to Freezing Halloumi
You can either choose to freeze halloumi in a block, or sliced up. Here is how to do both to ensure the best results.
Freezing A Block Of Halloumi
If you do not want to slice the halloumi up before freezing it, you are able to freeze the whole block.
It is slightly easier to freeze a whole block of halloumi compared to slices, as there is not much prep work that needs to be done beforehand.
- If the halloumi block is exceptionally large, you will need to cut it into around ½ lb pieces. This allows the cheese to freeze and thaw thoroughly.
- Wrap the block of halloumi in plastic wrapping, to give it an airtight seal. You can use plastic food wrap or a sealable plastic freezer bag. For extra protection, you can wrap the cheese in plastic wrap and then place it inside a freezer bag. This helps to eliminate as much air as possible, which helps to prevent freezer burn. Make sure the wrapping and freezer bag are moisture-resistant. You can also leave the block in its original wrapping and place it inside a freezer bag.
- Label the packaging of the halloumi, whether it is a plastic wrap or a freezer bag. This way you can easily identify the halloumi and know when it should be used by.
- Place the wrapped halloumi in a dry spot in the freezer, and keep the freezer door closed so the halloumi can freeze through quickly.
Freezing Slices Of Halloumi
Halloumi is commonly cooked in slices. The slices are placed on a frying pan or in the oven and enjoyed once cooked. Slicing the halloumi before freezing does make preparation and cooking easier later on.
- Before freezing, slice the halloumi into the thickness you would like to cook the slices later on.
- Once the halloumi is sliced, slice cut out rectangular pieces of parchment paper for each slice of halloumi you have. Make sure to leave the parchment pieces slightly larger than the slices of cheese.
- Place one piece of parchment paper between each piece halloumi slice. Form a stack with alternating pieces of halloumi and parchment paper.
- Once the stack is completed, wrap it up with plastic wrap tightly. Place the wrapped stack into a freezer-safe sealable plastic bag.
- Label the plastic bag to allow you to identify the halloumi easily, and to give you an indication of when it should be eaten by.
- Store the halloumi in a dry spot in the freezer.
- When you want to use the halloumi, you can simply open the freezer bag, unwrap a portion and lift individual slices of halloumi using the parchment paper. The rest can be re-wrapped and placed back into the freezer.
Thawing Frozen Halloumi
You need to be wary of how you thaw the halloumi, as incorrect thawing could ruin the texture of the cheese.
To thaw frozen halloumi properly, you should remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge. Leave the halloumi to defrost in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. The ice crystals need to thaw out from the cheese and allow some moisture to return.
It is best to leave the halloumi in the fridge to thaw as it keeps it safe from bacteria growth. Bacteria growth increases between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so allowing it to thaw in the fridge protects both you and the halloumi.
Thawing it on the counter overnight leaves it in the danger zone of bacteria growth, and heightens the chance of food poisoning.
Remember to only take out as much cheese as you will use in the next 2 days. This is why slicing the halloumi before freezing it is a great idea, as you can take out a few slices at a time, without needing the defrost the whole block, which might end up going to waste.
Once the halloumi has defrosted, you should use it within the next 2 to 3 days, even if the expiry date is later than this. If the halloumi is not used within 3 days of defrosting, you should discard it.
Frozen halloumi should be used within 6 months. After this, it will still be fine to eat, but the quality and flavor of the cheese will start to deteriorate.
This is why it is so important to label the halloumi with the date of freezing, so you can keep an easy check on when it needs to be consumed by.
Halloumi Freezing Rules
Freezing rules are pretty standard for all types of food, and they are there to protect consumers from becoming sick from food poisoning caused by bacteria, and to protect food against losing favor and quality.
These rules all apply for halloumi, and by following them, you are ensuring that the halloumi will still have a great quality after being thawed, and will be safe to eat.
- Halloumi should not be refrozen if it has already thawed. The only exception to this rule is if the halloumi still has ice crystals, and has been stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the halloumi was left in the fridge overnight and has not been taken out, it should be fine to freeze it the next day. However, if the halloumi has been taken out of the fridge and left to reach room temperature, it should not be refrozen.
- Thawed halloumi which still has ice crystals, should be refrozen within 48 hours of thawing. If cooking, the halloumi should be cooked within 48 hours of thawing.
- Refreeze the halloumi only once, and only if it has been kept out of the temperature danger zone. Any more freezing after this, it will lose its quality and not taste as great as you would hope when it is finally cooked. This goes for any type of cheese, including gorgonzola.
- You need to discard any halloumi which has been frozen, thawed, cooked and not eaten. Only thaw and cook what you are going to eat, as any halloumi that has been cooked once after being frozen, should not be cooked again.
How long will halloumi keep once it has been opened?
Halloumi has an extraordinarily long shelf life compared to many other kinds of cheese, and this plays a factor in why many people choose not to freeze it. Unopened, halloumi cheese can remain in the fridge for up to a year.
Once it has been opened, halloumi should be kept in an airtight container with saltwater, and used within 2 weeks. Alternatively, you can choose to wrap it tightly in waxed paper or cheese wrap.
How do you properly store cooked halloumi cheese?
Once cooked, the halloumi cheese should be cooled and then stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Do not add any herbs, oil or lemon juice to the halloumi cheese until it is ready to serve. If the halloumi cheese is too salty, you can soak it in a bowl of water overnight.
Can you place cooked halloumi in the microwave?
You can reheat halloumi in the microwave. Place the halloumi onto a plate and place it into the microwave. Reheat it for 40 seconds.
Serve with lemon juice, herbs, oil or sweet chili sauce.
Try and reheat it until just warm, if you overheat it, it could become rubbery, hard and chewy. Halloumi should be firm, but still tender to eat. You do not want to spend ages trying to chew through a single slice of halloumi.
For an even more tender cheese, you can try paneer.
Freezing halloumi is a great way to extend its shelf life and does a great job of keeping those extra blocks you bought on sale fresh until you are ready to use them.
If you know you aren’t going to eat a whole block of halloumi in one go, you should consider slicing the halloumi before placing it in the freezer.
Placing parchment paper between each slice of halloumi allows you to take as many slices as you need at a time, leaving the rest to stay frozen. This way, you can eat just as much as you want, without the rest of the block going to waste!