Shallots vary in size from small to large, depending on the variety, and have an elongated, oblong shape with a rounded center, tapering to a point at both ends. The bulbs are encased in a dry and papery, thin skin that flakes when touched and ranges in color from copper, gold, pale pink, to red. When the papery layers are removed, multiple clusters of cloves are found divided into individually wrapped segments similar to garlic. Small Shallot varieties average 2 to 3 cloves, and larger varieties typically contain 3 to 6 cloves. Shallots are aromatic with a complex blend of spicy, sweet, and pungent flavors. When raw, the cloves are crisp and astringent, and when cooked, they develop a delicate, sweet, and savory taste with flavors reminiscent of garlic.
Fun Fact: Shallots can often be substituted in recipes calling for onions and garlic and have a slightly milder and sweeter flavor profile.
- Fiber important for digestive health and keeps you feeling full
- Vitamin C important for the immune system, healthy skin, and wound healing
- Potassium helps lower blood pressure and helps muscles contract
- Vitamin E supports immune function, vision, and skin health.
- Iron important in red blood cell formation
- Vitamin A important for vision, bone development, and immune function
- Calcium important for strong bones
- Phosphorus is important for strong healthy bones
How to Shop
Shallots can be found in the produce section of your local grocery store but will be a little more expensive than onions or garlic. Look for ones that are firm and do not have any green shoots. The shallots should be firm and heavy for their size, not dry and light, and should have no soft spots. Sprouting shallots are an indication of age and should be avoided. The younger (smaller) the shallot, the milder the taste. Large shallots will smell and taste more like their onion and garlic cousins.
How to Grow
Shallots planted in the fall will need a layer of mulch for protection (4 to 6 inches). Carefully remove excess mulch as the soil warms in Spring. Shallots planted in the spring also benefit from and inch or two of mulch, as it protects the shallots from cold snaps and helps avoid the new bulbs from drying out. Space each planting hole at least 4- to 6-inches apart in rows that are 12-inches apart. Make sure shallot bulbs are planted root-end down and pointed-end up. Plant bulbs just deep enough so that the tops are still visible. Water thoroughly after planting. Avoid letting the shallots dry out, but do not overwater. Remove all weeds as they appear to keep nutrient competition down.
How to Store
Store shallots in a dark, cool, dry, well-ventilated place, and they will keep for about a month. You can also store them in the refrigerator, but they will only last for about 2 weeks.