What Are Shallots?

What is a shallot?

Shallots are a type of onion that is related to the garlic family. They are often used in French cuisine, and have a milder flavor than onions. There are two types of shallots for cooking - green shallots and golden brown shallots. Brown shallots are the most popular type, and they get their name from their golden brown skin. Shallots can be grown at home, and this blog post will tell you how!

Shallots and their cousins (onion and garlic)

Shallots (allium cepa aggregatum) are a vegetable species of onion resembles garlic. Although shallots are often thought of as a modern vegetable, they have actually been cultivated for thousands of years. The first recorded mention of shallots comes from an Egyptian papyrus dating back to around 3500 BC. Shallots were also mentioned in the Old Testament, and they were a popular ingredient in ancient Greek and Roman cuisine. By the Middle Ages, shallots were widely grown in Europe, and they eventually made their way to America with the early settlers. Today, shallots are grown all over the world, and they are a key ingredient in many different cuisines.

Shallots vs. Onions

Shallots and onions are both members of the Allium family, which also includes garlic, leeks, and chives. Shallots are generally smaller than onions and have a milder, sweeter flavor. When cooking with shallots, you typically use only the bulb, whereas with onions, you can use both the bulb and the greens. When substituting shallots for onions (or vice versa), use 1/3 as many shallots as you would onions. So, if a recipe calls for one onion, use one shallot instead. Keep in mind that because shallots are so much milder than onions, they won't have the same effect in dishes that rely on onion for flavor. Onions can also make substitutes for shallots as helpful or necessary.

Growing Shallots in Your Garden

Our comprehensive Growing Guide can be found here.

Shallots are very tolerant to a wide range of soils. They can be grown in acidic soil down to 5 pH, but prefer 6.0–6.8 pH. Best to plant in fertile, well-drained soil. The looser the composition of the soil, the larger your shallots will grow.

Shallots are planted from bulbs, rather than cloves like garlic. Also if you plant smaller shallots, you tend to get larger bulbs produced in the following harvest. Shallots should be spring planted in very cold areas.

Your shallots can be harvested when leaves turn brown and begin to fall over. Loosen the soil and dig up the shallot cluster. Remove soil and cure in a well ventilated shady location for about 1 month.

Cooking with Shallots

Red, yellow, or white, they are all delicious. You can use shallots raw or cooked, and you can also pickle or roast them. Shallots are used heavily in French cuisine, and they're used in dishes like shallot soup and shallot sauce. Golden brown shallots can be used in a variety of dishes and come in many different forms. When choosing shallots, look for ones that are firm and have no bruising. For cooking you should also avoid any that have started to sprout. When storing shallots, keep them in a cool, dark place. They will last longest if stored in a perforated or mesh bag.

Resources

We have a number of blogs on garlic and shallots, as well as videos to help you with successful growing.

We also have many varieties of shallots for sale!

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