Woman’s longing for foods from homeland of Russia leads to a metro Atlanta business

Cultured Traditions founder Tanya Batskikh started out making sauerkraut the way she had learned at home in Russia. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

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Cultured Traditions founder Tanya Batskikh started out making sauerkraut the way she had learned at home in Russia. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

When Tanya Batskikh moved to the U.S. from her native Russia in 2003, she particularly missed the fermented foods she had grown up with. “I missed good pickles,” she said, “and sauerkraut.”

She went to shops carrying Russian food, but what she found didn’t meet her expectations. “It was OK,” Batskikh said, but “it was not the same quality.”

Her longing for these foods from home was her impetus to begin making her own. She started with sauerkraut. “I had helped my mother make sauerkraut, but never been in charge of a batch from start to finish,” she said. “When it was finished, I was so happy. It was just what I wanted.”

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Cultured Traditions grew out of Tanya Batskikh’s craving for the fermented pickles and sauerkrauts of her Russian homeland. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Cultured Traditions grew out of Tanya Batskikh’s craving for the fermented pickles and sauerkrauts of her Russian homeland. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

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Cultured Traditions grew out of Tanya Batskikh’s craving for the fermented pickles and sauerkrauts of her Russian homeland. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

As it turned out, she was developing her recipes at the same time many Americans were embracing fermented foods. “I started seeing people interested in healthy foods, understanding how good fermented foods are for you,” Batskikh said, “and I realized that’s why I had been craving those foods so much.”

By 2013, the time was right for her to launch Cultured Traditions. Batskikh began by selling at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market, where, she said, she was amazed by the response of shoppers. “I enjoyed watching people’s response, how much they liked what I was making,” she said. “We were an instant success.”

She started with just traditional Russian-style white sauerkraut, made with green cabbage and carrots.

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Cultured Traditions uses traditional methods, such as fermenting its sauerkraut in wooden barrels. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Cultured Traditions uses traditional methods, such as fermenting its sauerkraut in wooden barrels. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

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Cultured Traditions uses traditional methods, such as fermenting its sauerkraut in wooden barrels. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

She remembers customers stopping at her booth and saying, “I don’t eat sauerkraut,” but then trying her products, enjoying them and taking some home. Ultimately, she said, customers felt they were getting health benefits from her fermented foods.

Then, she began selling red sauerkraut, made with red cabbage, radishes and beets — items her customers easily could recognize.

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Kvass is a fermented Russian beverage. Tanya Batskikh makes hers out of raw beets and flavors it with ginger and turmeric, for the anti-inflammatory properties they add. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Kvass is a fermented Russian beverage. Tanya Batskikh makes hers out of raw beets and flavors it with ginger and turmeric, for the anti-inflammatory properties they add. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

caption arrowCaption
Kvass is a fermented Russian beverage. Tanya Batskikh makes hers out of raw beets and flavors it with ginger and turmeric, for the anti-inflammatory properties they add. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Next, Batskikh brought a less familiar product to market: beet kvass, a fermented beverage made from raw beets.

Her customers began giving her suggestions for things they would like her to make, such as garlic dill pickles. “I welcomed their ideas, and that gave me even more ideas,” Batskikh said.

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Cultured Traditions offers several flavors of jun, a fermented kombucha-type drink. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Cultured Traditions offers several flavors of jun, a fermented kombucha-type drink. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

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Cultured Traditions offers several flavors of jun, a fermented kombucha-type drink. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

As Batskikh researched foods and health, she created a “seaweed” version of her sauerkraut, combining cabbage with daikon radish, leeks, dulse, kelp, Irish moss and bladderwrack. She also made kimchi and jun, a honey-sweetened kombucha-type drink.

“The more I did, the more I learned, the more passionate I became about these foods,” she said.

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Cultured Traditions produces fermented hot sauce, made with locally grown, organic jalapenos and apple cider vinegar. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Cultured Traditions produces fermented hot sauce, made with locally grown, organic jalapenos and apple cider vinegar. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

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Cultured Traditions produces fermented hot sauce, made with locally grown, organic jalapenos and apple cider vinegar. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Soon, Batskikh and her team were working out of a commercial kitchen in Suwanee, producing a wide range of fermented foods — many based on recipes from her homeland and others inspired by the suggestions of her customers, as well as her own curiosity.

Depending on the time of year, Cultured Traditions makes pickles and occasional seasonal ferments, hot sauce, cultured nondairy products (such as coconut kefir cheese), six varieties of sauerkraut and more.

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Cultured Tradition's pickles are not heat-processed, like traditional American pickles. Instead, they are naturally fermented in a salt brine. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Cultured Tradition's pickles are not heat-processed, like traditional American pickles. Instead, they are naturally fermented in a salt brine. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

caption arrowCaption
Cultured Tradition's pickles are not heat-processed, like traditional American pickles. Instead, they are naturally fermented in a salt brine. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Batskikh has found being a food entrepreneur particularly satisfying. “I came to the United States with degrees in linguistics, architecture and engineering,” she said. “I worked in several jobs after I arrived, but knew that I really wanted to work for myself. I feel very lucky to have found a way to share my passion for fermented foods, while developing a business that is flexible, so I can care for my family.”

You can find the Cultured Traditions booth at the Suwanee Farmers Market, held weekly during the summer, and biweekly the rest of the year. And, her white, red, garlic pickle and spicy garlic ginger sauerkrauts are available at Atlanta area Whole Foods Markets, as well as three varieties of jun.

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Cultured Traditions staffers T. Bolick (left) and Kaitlin Valentine package the company’s Russian-style red sauerkraut. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Cultured Traditions staffers T. Bolick (left) and Kaitlin Valentine package the company’s Russian-style red sauerkraut. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

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Cultured Traditions staffers T. Bolick (left) and Kaitlin Valentine package the company’s Russian-style red sauerkraut. Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Credit: Courtesy of Cultured Traditions

Batskikh said she believes her mother would be proud of the business she created, starting with that memory of them making sauerkraut together.

“I loved her so much,” Batskikh said. “I wish I could share this with her. We never dreamed this would be my life here in the United States.”

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