Cracking the Halloumi Code: Why This Cheese is the Saltiest of Them All

  • Halloumi is notably salty because it’s preserved in a brine solution, which can contain up to 20% salt, affecting its surface and internal structure
  • The salt acts as a preservative, allowing halloumi to last up to six months unopened, and contributes to the cheese’s aging process
  • While rinsing halloumi with water can remove surface salt, soaking it with lemon juice or milk is more effective for reducing its overall saltiness
  • Cutting halloumi into smaller pieces before soaking can increase the amount of salt removed
  • Despite the challenge of reducing its salt content, the distinctive saltiness of halloumi adds to its unique character and flavor profile

What Makes Halloumi So Salty?

You can’t fail to have noticed that halloumi is somewhat on the salty side!

If this is not to your taste, or you need to keep your sodium intake low, this could be a problem.

It is possible to find a low-salt version, this may be labeled as “lite” halloumi.

But the “lite” may refer to reduced fat levels, so be sure to read the ingredients list.

But what makes it so salty in the first place?

There are two possible reasons.

The salt is either added during the cheesemaking process or is used for preserving the halloumi.

The second option will probably be most likely.

The halloumi is usually preserved in brine, which is a solution of salt and water.

And, of course, it will absorb the salt.

The brine solution can be anywhere between 12% and 20% salt.

But there is no way of knowing this unless you make the halloumi yourself!

On the upside, the salt solution does mean that halloumi can be kept for a long time, up to six months, unopened.  

Salt is also added during the cheesemaking process.

This serves two purposes – again, to help preserve it but also to age it.

There isn’t any getting away from this fact.

Can You Remove Salt from Halloumi?

So, having established that realistically, halloumi is always going to be salty, is there anything you can do about it?

Most people would suggest simply rinsing the cheese.

However, that’s only really going to remove the brine from the surface.

Soaking the halloumi in water with added lemon juice can be more effective.

But don’t leave it too long, as it can start to develop a slimy texture.

You can also chop the halloumi into smaller pieces before soaking, as this will expose more of the cheese.

Adding the halloumi to milk is also said to remove the saltiness.

Simply cooking the cheese eliminates some salt, especially if you sprinkle it with lemon juice.

And, of course, don’t add any extra seasoning other than maybe some herbs, pepper, or oil.

What is Halloumi?

My Final Thoughts

Halloumi is a particularly salty cheese because it is preserved in brine.

This salt solution not only sits on the surface but penetrates the cheese.

This makes it challenging to remove all salt from halloumi.

Unfortunately, the high salt levels may make it unsuitable for those on a low-sodium diet.

Soaking in milk or water with added lemon juice are possible solutions. 

Chopping the halloumi into smaller pieces will remove more salt if using the soaking method.

At the end of the day, the salt adds to the unique character and flavor of halloumi.

If you are wondering if it’s the same with other cheeses, read my article on why feta is so salty.

Do you see the saltiness of halloumi as a characteristic that enhances its culinary versatility?

Let us know in the comments below!

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