How to Grow Shallots

comments (4) May 12th, 2009

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Planted after the first autumn frost, shallots will send up shoots and settle into the soil before winter arrives.
Shallots arent difficult to grow. They keep well, and will enhance your cooking all year round.
Plant shallots with their tips just emerging from the soil.
Planted after the first autumn frost, shallots will send up shoots and settle into the soil before winter arrives.Click To Enlarge

Planted after the first autumn frost, shallots will send up shoots and settle into the soil before winter arrives.

Photo: André Baranowski

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Storing shallots, and using them in your cooking
Since the flavor of shallots softens in storage, the real secret to their success is having a place where they can be safely stored over the winter. A cool, dry pantry is ideal, for too much humidity will cause the shallots to mold or even sprout. Also, consider the storage qualities of the shallots you want to grow. If you want a constant supply of shallots and a range of flavors, consider which varieties will give you both good flavor and a long shelf life. In my experience, ‘Polka’ and ‘Besançon’ are excellent for storage, and the ‘Gray’ shallot can’t be beat for flavor.


Tasty shallot recipes

Chicken Sautéed with Cider Vinegar and Shallots
Shallots Braised in Sherry
Potato Salad with Shallot and Mustard Dressing

A bountiful supply of shallots is a great joy in the kitchen, since shallots can be prepared in any number of ways. Onions and garlic are normally used to create foundation flavors, whereas shallots are often used to create “finish,” that extra zip that pushes a good recipe over the top. I encourage you to experiment with the recipes at right.

by William Woys Weaver
April 2000
from issue #26

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Comments (4)

cindetta writes: Two Questions: I have some 2 year old shallots. I do cut back the tops a bit for garnishes and I water them a bit every week year round. They are in pots in a greenhouse in northern coastal California (near Oregon). But, I'm not sure if I can harvest them since the tops don't die back, so far. Should I just dig up one and see what's going on with the bulb? I can't grow them outside since the soil is clay and gophers are rampant. And, do they make more bulbs that can be planted like garlic or do you start from new store bought bulbs each season? Thank you for your help!
Posted: 7:55 pm on December 7th
Ruth writes: In Zone 8, I think the shallots will be fine just as they are (ditto for the garlic). You can mulch lightly if you are concerned. Up here in Connecticut, I've found both very hardy, mulch or no mulch. Leave the tops as they are.
Posted: 10:02 am on December 28th
NCZone8Gardener writes: I planted my Shallots here in Wilmington, NC just after the first frost (around November 15th) and followed the directions above. One question, it is the day after Christmas and they have already all shot up nice tops. Do I need to cut off the tops or leave them alone? I have read that I may need to cut the tops to put more focus on the bulbs, but I may be confusing this with cutting off the seed head in June. Do you let the tops stay on through winter, or keep cutting them as they shoot up? Also, my garlic has shot up green stalks as well. Do I need to cut them off too, or leave them alone until June? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!
Posted: 11:38 am on December 26th
Anneke16 writes: I was looking for information on how to grow shallots (specifically - is it too late to plant for this year - answer yes of course!) and was delighted to find info by William Woys Weaver, always totally knowledgeable and reliable. Thank you!
I'll be ready to plant this Fall.
Posted: 1:39 pm on June 25th
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