Shallots taste similar to onions, only milder. The green leaves and dry bulbs are used fresh in salads, in culinary cooking and as a seasoning.
Shallots are especially popular in northern Europe, particularly France. Commercial French shallot production is mainly of the red shallot, also called the Jersey shallot. It is not as highly prized by gourmets as the French grey shallot, but is still used heavily.
It is a perennial allium that produces a cluster of small, pointed bulbs from a single planted bulb. The small bulbs grow at the soil surface and are varying colors and up to an inch and a half in diameter. The hollow, rounded leaves are up to 24 inches long.
Shallots are generally propogated from bulbs, although a Netherlands firm has developed seeds that come true. The shallot bulb is separated into individual cloves. In the early spring each healthy clove is planted one inch deep, 2-8 inches apart and 3-4 feet between rows, but several sources cite a variety of other spacings.
When grown as scallions or green onions, the base of the daughter plants are blanched as they grow by lightly hilling with surrounding soil. Blanching should be thorough, 2-3 inches above the root.
Harvest in 3 months for green onions, and in 6 months for dry bulbs. When harvesting for green onions, the outermost skin is removed from the base of the leaves and the bulb.
Johnny's Selected Seeds; W. Atlee Burpee & Co.; Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; Kalmia; Epicure Seeds; Exotica Seed Co.; Nichol's Garden Nursery; Territorial Seed Co.
Post-Harvest and Packing
Green onions do not store for more than a few days. Keep temperature at 32 degrees F. and moisture high. You can cover with crushed ice.
For dry bulbs, tops can be removed as with regular onions or be left intact and braided into strands like garlic. Each set should produce about 10 shallots.
Bulbs should be dug and allowed to cure in the field for a few days, then stored in a cool, dry place, with plenty of air circulation.