Friday, December 6, 2013

What is a Shallot and How to Select a Good One?

Welcome to shallot week. This week on the blog we will describe shallots and their uses.

Shallots are a member of the allium family. The allium family contains some very popular root crops like onions, garlic and leeks. Shallots are often seen as a small mild onion, but they are really their own species.

They are started early in the spring from shallots saved from the previous year.

Shallot History

They originate in the mediterranean area. Botanically they are named Allium ascalonicum, this name comes from the city of Ascalon in Palestine, where they originated. Historians think the De Soto brought shallots to the new world during is exploration of the Louisiana territories. The shallot is popular in French cooking.

How to Select Shallots.

Shallots have golden brown scales that cover the light purple layers of firm crunchy flesh. Select shallots that are firm, large, and heavy for their size. Avoid shallots that are sprouting as they are  more bitter.

How to Store Shallots

Shallots keep extremely well and we often sell the last of our shallots almost a year after they are harvested. Many of the shallots have two lobes surrounded by a common wrap of scales. These are often large and easy to peel and use. They are the preferred selection in the fall and winter. The single lobe shallots keep longer however and though smaller are the ones that we save to plant in the spring.

What Do Shallots Taste Like

Shallots have less of a sulfer and bitter taste than onions. They have a onion taste with a hint of garlic. As cooked, they are sweeter and have a great flavor.

When to Use Shallots

Because they are milder, shallots are often used when they are going to be used raw. Shallots are also great with vegetables that are mild in themselves and can benefit from the seasoning effect of an allium but might be too strong if garlic is used. When cooked slowly shallots have a melt in your mouth sweetness. Because of this sweetness shallots are the darling of chefs and gourmet cooks at home.

Remember to remove the papery scales from the outside of the shallot before cooking.

We will have shallots and onions from fall to spring this year,

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