Whole Milk Ricotta

1 gallon whole milk
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Add the milk, cream, and salt to a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the milk reaches 190º F.

Once the milk reaches the temperature, remove the pan from the heat and pour in the lemon juice. Stir to distribute the juice evenly, and then allow the pan to sit for five minutes while the curds form.

Wet cheesecloth or a thin tea towel with water, and ring out. Line the inside of a fine mesh strainer and fit over a large, heat proof bowl Ladle the liquid and curds into the cloth and strainer. Allow the ricotta to drain for at least one hour. The whey that is collected can be saved and used elsewhere. Remove the cheese from the cloth and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.

Makes 4-5 cups ricotta.

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