Chef’s Creamy Homemade Ricotta

1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, plus extra as needed
1 gallon pasteurized whole milk
2 tsp salt

Line colander with 3  layers of cheesecloth and place in sink. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in liquid measuring cup. Set aside. Heat milk and salt in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with rubber spatula to prevent scorching, until milk registers 185°F.

Remove pot from heat, slowly stir in lemon juice mixture until fully incorporated and mixture curdles, about 15 seconds. Let sit undisturbed until mixture fully separates into solid curds and translucent whey, 5 to 10 minutes. If curds do not fully separate and there is still milky whey in pot, stir in extra vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and let sit another 2 to 3 minutes, until curds separate.

Gently pour mixture into prepared colander. Let sit, undisturbed, until whey has drained from edges of cheese but center is still very moist, about 8 minutes. Working quickly, gently transfer cheese to large bowl, retaining as much whey in center of cheese as possible. Stir well to break up large curds and incorporate whey. Refrigerate ricotta until cold, about 2 hours. Stir cheese before using. Ricotta can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Makes about 2 pounds (4 cups).

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