Italians may call it heresy, but there’s a few ways to do it well.
Experts will tell you to eat fresh mozzarella the day it’s made, but life has its own plans, so into the fridge it often goes. Some Italians consider this heresy—the fridge will sap the milky flavor out of your cheese, they argue, rendering it too firm and rubbery to enjoy the way we’re supposed to.
Instead, they say, just leave it at room temperature and eat it as soon as possible. Food scientist Dave Arnold backed this up with some home testing, and also found that it takes way longer to bring a fridge-cold ball of mozz to room temperature than you’d expect. Refrigeration absorbs water into the curd, he writes, which makes the cheese firmer and less milky in flavor.
If your kitchen is cool, and you bought your mozzarella in a tub of brine, you can probably leave it out overnight without a problem, as long as the cheese is well submerged. For longer storage, you’ll need the fridge—mozzarella has too much water and not enough salt or acid to stay fresh for long. Still, store it in that brine so there’s available moisture to keep the curd soft and milky, and take the cheese out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to eat it so it has time to warm up. It won’t taste quite the same as fresh, but it’s the next best thing.