- 1 gallon of whole milk
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
- Pour the milk into a large pot and heat the milk over medium-low heat until it reaches 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10-15 minutes. The milk will look frothy. Stir it frequently and keep it under strict supervision; you don’t want the milk to scorch or boil over.
- If you are using the Instant Pot, pour in the milk in the inner chamber and set it to the “Yogurt” setting, adjusting it to “boil”.
- While you are waiting for the milk to boil, squeeze the lemon juice. I use a small sieve to strain the lemon juice.
- When the milk reaches 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit, Take it off the heat and slowly pour in the lemon juice, stirring gently in a circular motion. Be careful not to mix it too vigorously, or the cheese will be grainy in texture. Allow it to stand for about 5-7 minutes. Place a fine mesh sieve or a colander over a large bowl. Put a cheesecloth over the sieve.
- Gently start scooping out the curds, transferring the cheese to the cheesecloth lined sieve. If the milk has already started to cool and the curds still don’t separate from the whey, return to the heat and cook over low heat for a few minutes. That should do the trick. Continue gently scooping out the cheese curds until they are all in the cheesecloth. Pour out the strained out whey, either discarding it or saving it for another use.
- Let sit, undisturbed, until whey has drained from edges of cheese but center is still somewhat moist, about 8 minutes.
- Transfer the cheese to large bowl, retaining some of the whey that was left in the center. Stir well to break up large curds and incorporate whey.
- Refrigerate ricotta until cold, about 2 hours. Stir cheese before using.
- If you want the cheese to have a dryer texture, more like farmer’s cheese, let it drain for a longer period of time, up to a few hours in the refrigerator.
- Store in a covered container. Use the whey to make crepes or bread. It’s really easy; just substitute the whey for the amount of liquid in your recipe. Store the whey in the refrigerator. I usually use my handy dandy canning jars.