Calaveras Enterprise

Some cheeses travel well, perfect for an outing

Halloumi grills nicely, perfect for outdoor use in meals and snacks.

Halloumi grills nicely, perfect for outdoor use in meals and snacks.

Recently a new term surfaced to describe upscale, glamorized camping. It’s called glamping; Sunset magazine ran a whole issue on the best ways to create comfortable “home-like” camping experiences. But wait, aren’t we supposed to be getting away from home-style comforts when we camp in the wilderness? It’s supposed to be an inexpensive and easy vacation.

Oh, well, things change and I guess camping does, too. Aside from spending a lot of money on new equipment for your “glampout,” there are some tasty ways to improve your camping meals considerably for very little money.

I’m happy almost anywhere I am as long as I can eat well. It’s possible to bring interesting foods that make for delicious times in the great outdoors beyond burgers and hot dogs. Cheese is a remarkably resilient and portable food that can add flavor to breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. It’s one of the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Some cheeses don’t even require refrigeration, like the hard types including aged parmesans and cheddars, hard goudas and alpine styles that have been carefully dried out through proper aging of up to five years by cheesemakers. Take these along on a camping trip and they can make everything from scrambled eggs to grilled cheese sandwiches utter delights with your outdoors meals. Hard cheeses love to go backpacking or hiking with you. They’re great snack pals as you walk along, are full of nutrition and even moisture. And, they taste good.



The longer a cheese is aged, the longer you can keep it, interestingly enough. Therefore, I don’t recommend soft, high-moisture cheeses on outdoor adventures. Cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese and brie are better left for savoring at home.

Semifirm cheeses like young goudas, cheddars and jacks should be kept in the cooler and used first as you’re glamping. But beware, they have high moisture content and will dry out, get rubbery and lose their flavor if they’re exposed to changing temperatures.

When outdoors, keep your cheeses tightly wrapped in plastic wrap then put them into a sealed plastic container so they don’t get wet, bumped or squashed. If cheese develops a little mold, just wipe it off. What I’ll be more worried about is a cheese drying out or getting wet and slimy. Of course, if you’ve kept it too long or exposed it to hot temperatures for too long, it will tell you by looking sad and tasting worse. Don’t worry about it being dangerous to eat; cheese has enough natural microflora protection to prevent that. Good taste is the goal here, so only take out what you intend to use at a time from the ice chest; leave the rest cool and dry.

I’ve just mentioned cheeses that are old standards for camping and you can probably think of lots of ways to use them. If you’re glalmping, then you’ll want to impress your friends by showing up with the coolest new cheese. It’s Halloumi, and it’s called the grillin’ cheese. Halloumi is a firm, slightly springy white cheese from Cyprus that’s made with sheep’s and goats’ milk, although these days, mass-produced varieties often use cows’ milk. It’s widely available in grocery stores everywhere.

In texture, Halloumi is similar to a firm mozzarella, which makes it a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking. It can be added to salads as the protein. Unlike mozzarella, however, it has a salty flavor, particularly if it comes preserved in brine. Just wash it off to reduce the saltiness.

In the Middle East, Halloumi is usually fried or grilled to take advantage of its high melting point. For campouts, it needs minimum refrigeration. It doesn’t get soft and runny when it’s heated. Grilling brings out a rich, savory flavor that makes it a perfect vegetarian option. When heated on the campfire grill, it will take on grill marks and the flavor develops a meaty richness.

If you’re a vegetable lover, mix sliced eggplant, red and green bell peppers and onions with olive oil and salt and pepper and grill till soft. Add cubes of grilled Halloumi to this vegetable mix.

For easy eating, cut Halloumi into finger-shaped sticks, marinate with a blend of olive oil, thyme and paprika, and then put the “fingers” on sticks to grill them like the marshmallows for s’mores later in the evening.

Other seasonings work well with Halloumi, too, including garlic, shallots, lemon, parsley and basil. Kids of all ages will love this cheese. Best yet, Halloumi is practically indestructible; it really keeps a long time. Chances are you’ll have eaten it all long before you’re ready to buy more.

There are so many good recipe ideas for Halloumi. It’s handy to have around for a quick tasty appetizer or salad as well as for your camping trips. You’ll be the glamping champion.

Editor’s note: I’m sorry we ran out of space for Judy’s “glampout” in last week’s camping issue, but I’m glad we can add cheeses to your campout this week.

Judy Creighton presents Second Sunday Cheese Classes from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Lavender Ridge Vineyard Rhone Room in Murphys for $20. Reserve at

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