PM360 recently spoke to Orly Kolatkar, Senior Product Manager, Patient and AHCP Promo, Esbriet, Genentech, about her growing passion for cooking and fermenting.

Orly’s love of fermenting and pickling was incorporated into her wedding as she made this pickle bar for guests to enjoy.

PM360: How did you get into exploring new ideas in the kitchen?

Orly Kolatkar: I used to watch the Food Network obsessively—mostly because I loved to eat and explore new foods. Over time, I was inspired to start cooking more on my own—and soon realized how much I love it! I would keep a notebook by my TV and jot down interesting recipes to try myself.

What are some of the most interesting new creations that you have cooked up?

I’ve loved cooking for years, but now that I live in Northern California I am totally spoiled by the amazing fresh, local ingredients. I never knew a carrot could taste so good until I moved to San Francisco! Lately, I have been more focused on simple meals using seasonal ingredients from the local market, such as a pan-seared piece of fish with some pureed celery root and sautéed greens. Other things I love to do in the kitchen are homemade pickles or other fermented veggies. And now I have a baby at home, so I am looking forward to making my own baby food.

Orly Kolatkar shows off a fish she just finished cooking.

How did you get into fermenting and pickling?

My husband, who is a sourdough baker, introduced me to the world of fermentation. While he sticks to fermenting his sourdough culture, I love making different types of pickles, kimchis, and sauerkrauts. But my newest venture has been with dairy—I’ve started making my own cultured butter and it is AH-mazing!

Orly enjoying some fresh loaves of bread baked by her husband, who is a professional baker.

Can you share any easy recipes?

The easiest way to get your feet wet with fermenting is with sauerkraut. All you need is a mason jar, a head of cabbage, and some salt (about 2 tablespoons). I also like to add fennel seeds for extra flavor:

  1. Slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons.
  2. Sprinkle salt over the cabbage and work it into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands until it feels limp (this is where you can throw in some fennel seeds or any other flavor that inspires you).
  3. Pack the cabbage into a mason jar as tightly as possible by pressing down with your fist as you go—this will help to release a lot of the liquid from the cabbage. Once all the cabbage is packed into the jar, make sure all the cabbage is submerged beneath its liquid—add water if needed.
  4. Leave the closed jar at room temperature and the fermenting will begin. Taste it every day until you like the taste/level of sourness (also, you need to open the jar daily to release the gasses that build up inside).
  5. Transfer the jar to the fridge to stop the fermentation process. Depending on the room temp in your house, it can take anywhere from 3 to 4 days to over a week to get to a good level of sourness. Once in the fridge, it lasts for months.

Happy fermenting!

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