Shallots are part of the onion family but are much smaller. They do not have the rings like onions, but are sectioned in cloves. They possess a strong rich flavor, which tastes like a combination of onion and garlic.
Shallots have coppery brown skin, pinkish, or greyish brown. They are great in salads, and in dips.
The shallot has a tapered shape and a fine-textured, coppery skin, which differentiates it from onions.
Selecting and Buying
Although shallots are mostly thought of as dry bulbs, in some areas the green shoots of shallots are used similarly to the green onion or as a scallion substitute.
They grow in clusters, where separate bulbs are attached at the base and by loose skins. The shallot has a tapered shape and a fine-textured, coppery skin, which differentiates it from onions.
Preparation and Use
Shallots may be chopped and frozen up to 3 months. However, when thawed, they will have the texture of a lightly sauteed shallot, so do not expect any crunch. This may actually be a time-saver in many recipes.
Conserving and Storing
Most cooks buy only as many shallots as they will need for a particular recipe, but if you have an abundance of shallots, store them as you would any allium in a cool, dry, dark place with plenty of air circulation. Knot them in clean pantyhose, hang from the ceiling in a dry garage, cellar or closet, and they can last up to 2 months. Or store in a hanging metal mesh basket. If they sprout, you can still use them. Remove the bitter green sprouts if you don't want a strong onion flavor. Many cooks choose to include the sprouts and use them much like chives.
Shallots store well at temperatures of 0–2°C and 60%–70% relative humidity. Because of their small size, shallots tend to pack closely; so they should not be placed into deep piles. Store shallots in slatted crates or trays that allow good air movement in and around the bulbs. This is important to remove excessive moisture and to minimize storage diseases.
Low relative humidity and low temperatures are important to keep shallots sound and dormant and free from sprouting and root growth. At humidities much above 70% and at warmer temperatures of 5–8°C more of the shallots will sprout, develop roots, and decay. With good air flow and humidity control, shallots should store for 8–10 months.