Shallots have a unique mild taste, which has made them a popular ingredient in many recipes.
Where can we use it in the kitchen?
What are its health benefits?
And how is it different from a classic onion?
We will tell you all this and much more in our article!
What exactly is a shallot?
Shallot, popularly also known as scallion, is a slender, egg-shaped onion variety that grows in bunches and whose skins are yellow-brown-red in color. It is whitish-purple inside. It tends to be popular for its milder sweet taste with a slight garlic flavor, so instead of being cooked, it is used raw as a vegetable garnish.
Health benefits of shallots
Shallots have several health benefits such as:
It has a high content of antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect cells from damage by substances called free radicals. Too many free radicals can cause oxidative stress in your body, which leads to inflammation as well as chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. One study analyzing the antioxidant activity of 11 popular onion varieties found that shallots contained the highest amount.
Alleviates allergy symptoms
During an allergic reaction, cells in your body release histamine, which triggers symptoms such as tissue swelling, watery eyes, and itching. Shallots are high in quercetin, a plant flavonoid that can help reduce and manage eye and nasal symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Quercetin can act as a natural antihistamine by preventing the release of histamine and reducing the severity of inflammatory and respiratory reactions such as allergic asthma, bronchitis and seasonal allergies.
Contains antimicrobial compounds
A large body of research shows that organosulfur compounds in shallots have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Supports heart health and blood circulation
Research shows that the organosulfur compounds and antioxidants in shallots can benefit heart health and circulation in several ways, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease. Shallots contain high amounts of thiosulfinates, a type of organosulfur compound that can prevent dangerous blood clots from forming. Allicin, another organosulfur compound in shallots, has been shown to reduce blood vessel stiffness by releasing nitric oxide, improving circulation and lowering blood pressure. It can also improve total cholesterol. Shallots can also help lower the levels of harmful fats that can build up in your blood system and potentially increase your risk of heart disease.
Other health benefits
The active compounds in shallots offer a number of other health benefits:
- Some studies suggest that compounds in shallots prevent excessive fat accumulation and reduce overall body fat percentage.
- Plant compounds in shallots can help lower blood sugar levels.
Side effects of eating shallots
In addition to bad breath and unpleasant body odor, shallots can also have some other side effects.
Intolerance and allergy to onions
Allergies to onions are relatively rare, but intolerance to raw varieties is quite common. Symptoms of onion intolerance include indigestion such as upset stomach, heartburn and gas.
Eye and mouth irritation
The most common problem when preparing and cutting onions is eye irritation and tear production. When cutting an onion, a gas called the tear factor is released. The gas activates neurons in your eyes that cause a stinging sensation, followed by tears that are produced to wash away the irritant. It helps to cut onions under running water. This will prevent this gas from dissolving in the air. Another option is to cut the onion so that it crumbles into cubes at the very end. The longer they stay together, the less tear-producing substances will get into your eyes.
The lacrimal factor is also responsible for the burning sensation in the mouth when onions are eaten raw. You can reduce or eliminate this feeling by heat treating it.
It is dangerous for pets
While onions are a healthy part of the human diet, they can be deadly for some animals, including dogs, cats, horses and monkeys.
What to replace the shallot with?
If you don’t have shallots on hand, the best alternative is a regular onion plus a pinch of pressed or dried garlic. Just keep in mind that shallots and traditional onions have different flavors. This substitution works best when the recipe calls for cooked shallots, as raw onions and raw shallots do not taste the same.
On the other hand, if you need to substitute shallots for onions, it is generally recommended to use three shallots for every onion called for in the recipe.
How are shallots and onions different from each other?
Both shallots and onions are vegetables that belong to the Allium genus, which also includes other plants such as leeks, chives, and garlic.
However, although onions and shallots are closely related, there are several key differences between them.
|Appearance||It has an elongated shape and its color is from gray to light purple or brown.||It is covered with a papery skin which, when peeled off, reveals several layers of rings. They vary in size and color, but are most often white, yellow, or red.|
|Taste||Soft, somewhat sweet.||Sharp and pungent.|
|Availability||It is less common and usually significantly more expensive.||It is found in all sorts of dishes, easily available and cheap.|
See also the comparison of nutritional values, minerals and vitamins in 100 g of raw shallots vs. onion.
|Proteins||2.5 g||1.1 g|
|Fat||0.1 g||0.1 g|
|Carbohydrates||16.8 g||9.3 g|
|Fiber||3.2 g||1.7 g|
|Vitamin B6||20% VAT||7% VAT|
|Manganese||13% VAT||6% VAT|
|Copper||10% VAT||4% VAT|
|Folates||9% VAT||5% VAT|
|Vitamin C||9% VAT||8% VAT|
|Potassium||7% VAT||3% VAT|
|Iron||7% VAT||1% VAT|
|Pantothenic acid||6% VAT||3% VAT|
|Magnesium||5% VAT||2% VAT|
|Vitamin B1||5% VAT||4% VAT|
DDP=recommended daily intake
Although onions contain fewer calories for the same serving size, shallots are higher in many essential nutrients. In particular, it contains a higher amount of fiber and is rich in vitamin B6, manganese, copper, folates and vitamin C.
Where to buy shallots and how to store them?
Shallots are commonly available in larger grocery stores. They are generally available throughout the year, but their peak season is from April to August. Choose shallots that do not have mushy or black spots. They should be firm and heavy, not dry and light. You also don’t want ones that have already started to sprout – they tend to go bad much faster and the green shoots can impart a bitter taste to your food. (If your shallots have sprouted, remove the green sprouts before cooking.) The younger (smaller) the shallot, the more delicate the flavor.
Shallots can be stored for up to six months when properly stored in a cool, dark place with plenty of air circulation. Tie them in clean stockings, hang them from the ceiling in a dry garage, basement or closet, or store them in a hanging metal mesh basket.
Shallots can also be chopped and frozen for up to 3 months. However, when thawed, it will have the texture of lightly fried shallots, so don’t expect any crunch. This can actually be a time saver for many recipes.
How to use shallots in the kitchen?
Shallot goes well with meat (especially lamb, beef and poultry), game and fish . It also makes a fantastic accent on other vegetables and salads . It is suitable for delicate sauces and soups , simply everywhere where onions are used, but the food needs to be softened more. Pickled shallots in a sweet and sour pickle are a delicacy.
There are several cuisines that are very closely associated with shallots, such as classic French cuisine and Southeast Asian cuisine.
Due to its delicacy, shallots are especially suitable for those recipes that require more delicate flavors.
They can be consumed by:
- Finely chopped
- Cut into rings and fried
- Roasted whole (either skinned or peeled)
Raw shallots are also great in salad dressings , and if you can find them fresh, their green tops can be used as an aromatic condiment or garnish , much like spring onions.
Check out some popular ways to eat shallots :
- fry and serve with dip
- grill it together with other vegetables, tofu or meat
- chop it up and add it to stir-fries, soups or quiches
- cut it into cubes and sprinkle it raw on salads, bruschetta or pasta
- spread it on homemade pizza
- chop it up and add it to sauces or dressings
Use in recipes
How to cut a shallot in 4 steps
If you want to finely chop shallots, here is a simple guide:
- Remove the papery skin and root end from the shallots.
- Cut the shallot in half.
- Lay one half cut side down and cut lengthwise, stopping just before you reach the root end. This will keep the layers together and allow for easier slicing. Use the tip of the knife to cut.
- If you want diced shallots, make a single cut through the shallot parallel to the cutting board from tip to root. Then, using the base of the knife, slice the shallot crosswise.
Minimize the harshness of raw shallots by macerating (soaking) them in vinegar.
Incorporate raw shallots into a dish the day you serve it (ie don’t refrigerate dishes with raw shallots for long periods of time – they will become more pungent over time).
Prepare homemade shallot oil to add a wonderful undertone to your stir-fries.
- Thinly slice 2 shallots, heat 1 1/2 cups of vegetable or peanut oil in a pan or wok and fry the shallots for about 8-12 minutes, stirring often, until golden brown.
- Then strain the shallot and oil mixture into a bowl or container and place the shallots on a paper towel.
- Allow to dry for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Store fried shallot slices and oil in separate airtight containers.
- You can keep the oil in the fridge for several weeks.
The fried onions that you created while preparing the oil are great in salads, soups or with fried chips. They will keep for a day or two, but they taste best when eaten right away.
Shallot and mustard dressing
- Combine 1 chopped shallot, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until ingredients are well mixed.
- Add salt, pepper and shake again.
- Slowly add 1 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup at a time. P
- you can add lemon juice or herbs wherever you like.
If you’re a canning enthusiast, you probably already know that you can pickle all kinds of vegetables, not just cucumbers. So why not add shallots as well?
- Peel three to four shallots and cut crosswise into thin rings.
- Put them in a glass container big enough to hold them all.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves.
- Pour the varnish into the glass with the shallot.
- Seal the jar and leave to cool before transferring to the refrigerator.
When, where and how to plant
You can start planting shallot seedlings at the end of winter and beginning of spring in warmer areas, in the middle of spring in colder ones. With a fast growth rate, they are usually ready to harvest in 100-120 days on average. Choose a sunny place for your shallot in the garden , ideally a little further away from other plants, because shallots do not like to compete for soil moisture and nutrients. The planting site should also not be prone to flooding.
Place each planter in the soil with the thick end pointing down and the top just above the soil line. Plant them 2-3 cm apart in rows and space each row about 23-30 cm apart . These plants do not need any support structure to grow.
Our favorite shallot varieties are, for example, Golden Gurmet, which produces a yellow fruit, and Red sun, which produces a red fruit.
Caring for shallots
Ideally, grow shallots in at least 6 hours of direct sunlight most days.
Plant shallots in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. They like acidic to neutral soil pH, about 6.0 to 7.0.
The soil should remain slightly moist, but do not leave the seedlings in too wet soil. This could cause them to rot. They need about 2.5 cm of water per week.
- Temperature and humidity
Shallots require a cool dormant period of at least a month with temperatures between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius before they start growing. Shallot plants then prefer a soil temperature of 2 to 32 degrees Celsius. If regularly watered and kept in well-drained soil, shallots are not sensitive to moisture.
Shallots generally do not require fertilizer. However, adding compost to the soil in the spring can help add nutrients and improve drainage.
Shallots are usually ready to harvest approximately 100-120 days after planting. As with onions, shallots signal that they are ready to be dug up when their leafy tops turn brown and dry. Dig up the entire plant and shake off the excess soil. Then place it in a dry, shady place for a few weeks. Then remove the roots and tops.
How to grow shallots in pots
Growing shallots in a container is useful because you can move the container so that the plant gets enough sunlight. You can also carefully control her water intake. A pot with a diameter of 15 cm is ideal for one seedling. The flower pot must have enough drainage holes. Shallots usually need about 2.5cm of water each week – maybe more in hot weather.
Shallot bulbs can overwinter in the ground as they go dormant for the winter. No special maintenance is required to overwinter them as long as the planting site has good drainage. As soon as it starts to warm up, the plant wakes up and speeds up the growth process.
Shallot history and interesting facts
The shallot comes from the Middle East . Its botanical name Allium ascalonicum (now officially Allium cepa gr. agregatum) refers to the port of Ascalon in Palestine, which is now known as the Ashkelon seaside resort in Israel.
Shallots were a staple food already in ancient Egypt and were considered a sacred plant by the Persians!
Shallots were brought to Europe by Crusaders returning from Palestine . Since the 12th century, shallots have been cultivated in Brittany and Anjou, the two traditional shallot-producing regions of France. Shallots are still traditionally grown in these two areas, but are now also grown in the north of France and the Drôme region.
Its world production is dominated by Indonesia , which produces 500,000 tonnes per year, and Thailand with 200,000 tonnes. France is the main European producer with an annual harvest of 49,000 tonnes, followed by Bulgaria and Ireland.