Also known as the ‘better’ onion in my house: we grow, eat and LOVE shallots. Originally thought to be a different species entirely than onions it is now known that they are both in the same Aggregatum group. Their origins stem all the way from Southwest China and traveled across the silk road to the Mediterranean, changing food forever on the way.
Shallots are characterized as small and bulb-like with reddish, gray or coppery outer skin. Most are lobed and when peeled separate just like garlic. They usually have a milder taste than onions and are often eaten raw or lightly cooked but are sweeter and considered more desired. (I’m weird and like raw onions.)
The shallots you get in a supermarket are usually a small to medium size of the French Red variety. According to Cornell University there are 27 different varieties of shallot that are cultivated. (This does not include the possible hundreds of micro-climate varieties that exist in the world since shallots can grow in almost any region.)
I planted two types (the only two I could get my hands on) which were French Red and Saffron. You have two options for planting, seed or bulb. (I have an awful track record for starting them from seed) I chose bulbs, because I find they do much better in the short term 90 day harvest.
If you go the seed route, it is recommended you start them indoors around September since they will need to be a good size when put in the ground to overwinter for mid-summer harvest. Seeds while definitely more work, have the advantage of variety; you can buy just about every kind of shallot seed but only a select few varieties in bulb form.
Growing your own shallots is a great idea to save some money (can you say sticker shock?) and also a smart health decision. Yes, shallots are healthy for you. They actually have a lot of benefits, (just like onions and garlic). Shallots are high in antioxidants which studies have shown to have possible anticarcinogenic properties. (I acknowledge the science and large evidence behind these claims but continue to view it with speculation until more research is done)
What they are definitely good for is circulation, which helps with high blood pressure, heart health and cholesterol. They are considered a great food for diabetic sugar regulation in the body, due to the phytochemical compounds found in shallots. (The study done on rats, and the study done on a small controlled group of patients.) Besides being jam packed with beneficial minerals like vitamin C, potassium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and manganese they have lots of dietary fiber! Happy gut, happy life as I always say!
Shallots are an easy and wonderful addition to any garden! And your wallet will thank you in the long run since these babies can be stored in a cool dry place for up to 6 months! (Years if you pickle them)
Thanks shallot for reading! Hope you enjoyed the punion title!
…I’ll show myself out.