If you’re shopping for shallots, you’ll find they are quite a bit more expensive than garlic. That’s one good reason to grow your own. Shallots combine the best qualities of onions and garlic. Their flavor is more interesting than an onion and milder than garlic, which makes them well-suited to salad dressings, delicate sauces, eggs and fish.
When fully cured and ready for storage, the shallot’s neck will be totally dry. Some types of shallots produce a head with multiple bulbs, rather like garlic. Others produce just one or two large bulbs, more like an onion.
Trim the leaves and discard any loose skins. No need to separate bulbs that are joined like these two. This variety, named Ambition, has a smooth, glossy wrapper that’s a beautiful pink-amber; the flesh inside is white.
Shallots combine the best qualities of onions and garlic. Their flavor is more interesting than an onion and milder than garlic, which makes them perfectly-suited to salad dressings, delicate sauces, eggs and fish.
If you’re shopping for shallots, you’ll find they are usually considerably more expensive than garlic. That’s one good reason to grow your own. But the main reason is that the quality and size of home-grown shallots is miles ahead of what you will ever find in a store.
Shallots are best grown from seed, started indoors in very early spring. Use the exact same techniques as you use to grow onions from seed. That means grow the seeds indoors under lights and use scissors to keep the tops trimmed to a height of about 2″. Transplant into the garden, spacing them about 5″ on center. Keep the plants weeded and give them plenty of moisture. Shallots should be harvested when the tops begin to wither, and they should be cured for storage in the same way as you prepare onions for storage.
Stored in a cool, dark place — again, just as you would onions or garlic — shallots last much longer. When I brought this year’s crop of cured and trimmed shallots into the basement, I still had a few perfectly usable shallots left from last year.
The shallots shown in these photos are Ambition from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. As you can see, they’re huge and beautiful. Storage life is a year or more. A packet containing 200 seeds will set you back just $3.50.
Director of Gardening,