(adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila, Clarkson Potter 2012)
8 cups whole milk (I used a combination of 1% milk, half and half, and cream)
1/2 c heavy cream
1/3 c lemon juice (from actual lemons, please!)
salt to taste
Ice a large, heavy bottomed pot. (Slowly melt an ice cube in the pan, making sure every surface gets touched by the cube as it melts - will prevent the milk from forming a scorched, unappetizing skin on the bottom of the pot.) Pour in the dairy and lemon juice and set over low heat, stirring constantly for a few seconds, making sure to not scrape the bottom of the pot. Clip on a candy thermometer, and let come to 175° very slowly - seriously, it took me over an hour. Worth it, I promise. Stir a few times while it's heating, but you can pretty much leave it alone. Once it reaches 175°, turn the heat up to medium-high, and watch carefully while it comes to 205° - do NOT stir during these couple minutes! Remove from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes - now is a good time to get your draining set up ready. Line a sieve with dampened paper towels (cheesecloth if you have it - it takes forever to drain if you use the paper towels) and set over a deep bowl. Once the 10 minutes are up, you can either pour it all into the sieve if you have patience, or you can scoop off the curds and place those in the strainer. I decided it would be faster to just pour it all through, and had to put my setup in the refrigerator to drain overnight. Either way, you should have a pint of delicious, creamy ricotta cheese! You can salt it if you'd like, but I didn't. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.