When to harvest shallots?


Pronounced: SHAL-uht; shuh-LOT Nutrition

A member of the onion family, but formed more like garlic than onions. Shallots are favored for their mild onion flavor, and can be used in the same manner as onions. A shallot looks like a small, elongated onion with a copper, reddish, or gray skin. When peeled, shallots separate into into cloves like garlic. There are two main types of shallots: Jersey or “false” shallots (larger) and “true” shallots (more subtle flavor. Fresh green shallots are available in the spring and dry shallots (dry skin/moist flesh) are available year-round. Shallots come in three sizes – small, medium and jumbo (the least tasty). The younger (smaller) the shallot, the milder the taste. Do not confuse shallots with green onions or scallions.




May – September

How to select

Look for firm, dry bulbs, free from sprouts. They should be well covered with a papery skin and no sign or wrinkling or sprouting. Also available freeze-dried and dehydrated.

How to store

Store in a dry shallots in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place for a month or more. Fresh shallots should be refrigerated up to one week.


small white onions, though the flavor will not be quite the same.

I was accidentally introduced to shallots. When I was in college, I picked up a few very large shallots thinking they were very small, strange onions and bought a great big bag of them. I was clearly not thinking straight (read: hungover), but hey, that blunder changed my life forever. I went from “Wait, what are shallots??” to “I buy shallots every time I go to the grocery store” reeeeeal quick. That’s true about buying them every time I’m at the store, by the way. I do. Every damn time. I always have a few shallots in my kitchen, because they are hands-down the best allium that has ever existed (and will ever exist, for that matter). But most people are faced with the same question I had the first time they encountered a shallot (whether it be accidental or intentional): What the hell are these things, and why is everyone so excited about them?

Shallots are alliums, in the same family as white, red, and yellow onions, along with leeks, scallions, and garlic. That means they have that flavor that somehow borders on sweet, acidic, spicy, and sharp all at the same time. But the flavor of a shallot differs from that of a regular old onion in a few very important ways. The flavor of a shallot is more delicate, softer, and less abrasive than that of an onion. (Take heed, self-professed onion haters out there.) But the flavor is also a bit deeper, bringing in notes of garlic, which a white or red onion definitely doesn’t have. What I’m trying to say is, it’s all hits and no misses for a shallot.

Glazed shallots. Also fantastic.

Laura Murray

And when you cook a shallot, it melts. Well, not literally. But the cell structure that holds slices of shallot together breaks down more easily than that of an onion, which holds its shape pretty well in any cooking method besides caramelization. That means that they’re more likely to disappear quietly into whatever dish you’re working them into, allowing that delicate flavor to permeate every inch of a given dish. And roasting shallots whole is a magical experiences, because you get an almost creamy consistency on the very center of the shallot, once you break through the outermost layer.

But sometimes you don’t have shallots. So substituting yellow onions it is. For the most part, you can substitute chopped yellow onion for chopped shallot at a 1:1 ratio. (I say “chopped” because, as is pretty obvious, you can’t just substitute one shallot for one onion because of the difference in size.) But if the recipe calls for more that 1½ cups of shallots, can’t just substitute yellow onion for shallots. That mild shallot flavor is important, so using onions will overpower the rest of the flavors in the dish. Cutting the onions smaller and cooking them down further can help solve this problem.

If you really want to know why my shallot love is so strong, try something for me. Take a few peeled shallots, toss them in olive oil, salt them aggressively, and throw them in the oven at 425°. Let them roast until they start to develop some serious color on the outsides. (You can slice them in half before roasting them too, if you want more exposed, crisp-able surface area.) Take them out of the oven, let them cool, and dip them in a simple mixture of olive oil, Greek yogurt, black pepper, and salt. They will be absolutely bonkers. The creaminess, the mild allium flavor, the sweetness. Unlike an onion, you can just eat them straight up. Again. And again And again.

Shallots are everything onions want to be. And they don’t even get cocky about it! Take the leap of faith. Grab shallots at the grocery store next time. Roast them. Sauté them. Grill them. Explore. You’re in good, less-smelly hands. I promise.

What’s the Difference Between Onions and Shallots?

Alliums are not particularly sexy. You don’t find the members of the onion family proudly displayed up front, like seasonal fruits or whatever vegetable is having its moment in the sun. You might enter your grocery store to a pyramid of shiny apples, or a table laden with bunches of asparagus, sitting proud in icy tubs. You may encounter an array of heirloom tomatoes in all the colors of the rainbow. But the onion tubs will always be somewhere in the back of the produce section, one half-step down on the produce loveliness hierarchy from potatoes.

This does a complete disservice to the entire onion oeuvre. Onions and their kin are the workhorses of the kitchen. They form the base of nearly every culture’s flavor-building: a classic French mirepoix, Italian soffritto, Latino sofrito, or German suppengruen. Anyone from New Orleans will discuss with you at length the proper use of the Holy Trinity, and onions are a part of plenty of Asian dishes, both in the cooking and garnishing.

Onions come in a lovely variety of hues and textures, from pure white to deep purple, and in flavors that range from nearly as sweet and mild as an apple to powerful punchy, to deeply spicy. They range in size from tiny pearls to gargantuan orbs the size of a softball, and even come in a strangely flattened form from Italy, the lovely cippolini.

Mixed in with your basic onions in almost every store are the shallots, which many people assume are really just a small version of the red onion. And their proximity and lovely lavender hue might make that a reasonable assumption, but the fact is that the shallot is an elegant European cousin to the rest of the onions we know and love so well, and a really terrific addition to your cooking.

While they are related, shallots differ from onions in some basic ways. First of all, unlike regular onions, which grow as single bulbs, shallots grow in clusters, more like garlic. They are a bit sweeter than regular onions, and their flavor is more subtle. This makes them especially good as a seasoning in raw applications like vinaigrettes or salads, where they add oniony flavor without too much punch, or in slow roasted or braised dishes, where their sweetness can really enhance a dish without watering it down.

Shallots come in a couple of different colors, the pale purple with brown skin being the most common, and the French gray shallot, which is rarely available and considered the ultimate in shallot superiority. Here in the States, you will almost always find the regular plain shallot, which is small and squat. But if you ever spot a banana shallot, sometimes called a torpedo shallot, which are much longer and straighter, grab them. They are easier to peel and I find they have a milder aspect that I just love. They are widely available in the markets in Europe, and I wish they were less of a specialty item here.

Use half the amount of shallot as you would onion when making substitutions.

Regardless, while both onion and shallot give an oniony flavor, they are not actually interchangeable. If you are using them as an enhancement, measured in tablespoons, as in a salad dressing, you can swap them out with little issue. But in a bigger cooked dish, the general thought is that you should use half the amount of shallot as you would onion when making substitutions.

Whether you are making a dish that is very onion-forward, or just relying on an onion to provide a solid base to carry other flavors, adding fresh minced shallot as a garnish on your salad, or fried shallots on your next experiment with Thai cooking, the alliums will always have your back. They might not be sexy themselves, but your food can’t be sexy without them.

Harvesting and Storing Onions & Shallots

You can pull an onion up at any point for immediate use but for onions to store well you need to be a little more subtle. As the season ends we want the onion to concentrate on the bulb and we don’t want that bulb too wet. So come August cease watering unless the weather is really hot and bone dry. Even then, only water lightly every few days.

Storing Onions – Stringing

The leaves will start to bend over of its own accord, which is the signal that harvest is near. You will read in old books about bending the leaves over at the neck. I’d suggest you not do it because it causes damage to the neck causing problems in storage or at least be very careful and just help rather than force the leaves over.

Once the leaves have gone over, gently lever under the bulbs with a fork to loosen most of the roots. Leave for a week and then lift the crop. Next we need to dry out the crop for storage. Storing partially dry onions is just asking for moulds and rot to spoil the crop.

Drying The Crop

The ideal is to place them on some sort of rack outdoors where air can flow all around them for a couple of weeks. I’ve constructed drying racks using scrap wood and chicken wire in less than an hour which are perfect for the job and will last years.

Onion Drying Frame made from scrap wood and chicken wire

Onions Drying on the Frame

If the weather is really wet you need to provide some sort of cover over them to keep the rain off, the odd shower will not cause any harm though.

The problem here is that bad wet weather tends to be accompanied by wind and sheltering tents made of clear polythene are very light and blow away. In 2007 I tried drying onions in a greenhouse. One day it got really hot and, despite the vents being open on the greenhouse, the air filled with the smell of cooking onions. Needless to say, they were ruined and could not be kept.

Moving them indoors to a cool garage is ideal but the lack of wind won’t help them dry much. To get around this you can use a fan to blow air under and across the onions. Many fan heaters have a fan only setting and can do the job. The electricity used by a fan only is minimal

If you’ve any onions with thick necks, perhaps they’ve started to bolt, separate these out and put aside to use first as they won’t store for long and like a rotten apple spoils the barrel a rotten onion spoils the bunch.

If you’ve a lot of thick necks consider drying as a storage method. Prepare and slice the onions into rings and dry using a dehydrator, storing in airtight storage boxes for use in stews etc.

With the rest trim off any roots left on and tidy up the leaves. A pair of kitchen scissors is the ideal tool for this. You can now string the onions in the traditional style and hang in a cool, dry, dark and airy place but importantly frost free. If the temperature drops below freezing the onions will freeze and come the thaw the damaged cells, caused by the formation of ice crystals, will rot in short order.

Often people find stringing onions too complicated or time consuming. In that case trim the leaves to a couple on centimetres long. Small net bags or even a leg cut off from laddered tights can be used and the bags hung up so air can circulate.

If you’ve a purpose built food store, then you can store on slatted shelves. I’ve also come across the drying frame being used as a storage shelf.

Shallots should be split into individual bulbs, the leaves trimmed to a few centimetres and preferably stored in net bags.

Check the base of the bulbs occasionally for rot starting and remove those bulbs to prevent it spreading. Usually it’s just a matter of casting your eyes over them when you go to get one or anything else from your store.

How Long Will Onions & Shallots Store For

Properly dried and stored onions should last 8 to 10 months. After six months check more thoroughly each week and use any that are starting to go soft.

Shallots have an advantage over onions, possibly due to their smaller size, in that they store for longer. 12 months is not unusual and we’ve had shallots perfectly good to use after 18 months.

Information on Growing Onions

How to Grow Onions – GuideProperly

  • Harvesting and Storing Onions & Shallots
  • How to Grow Onions from Seed – Allium Cepa
  • How to Grow Onions from Sets – Allium Cepa
  • Onion Pests, Diseases & Problems

Growing Onions for Show

  • Growing Onions for Show – Selecting & Propagating Onions
  • Growing Onions for Show – 250 gram Exhibition Onions
  • Growing Onions for Show – Starting Large Onions from Seed
  • Growing Onions for Show – Cultivating Exhibition Onions

-Pam Scott-

We are in full fall mode here at Fifth Season Gardening. We just received the mother lode of garlic, onions and shallots for fall planting. While unpacking these little gems I am reminded of the few pounds of shallots left in my fridge from the summer harvest. Since nothing in my house or garden gets done with any sense of moderation, each year I plant pounds of shallots and end up harvesting pounds and pounds and pounds of shallots.

Shallots are one of the more heavenly foods this earth has to offer. When I first tasted a shallot in a white wine rosemary butter reduction I thought I might faint (no exaggeration here). The intensity of the flavor fest in my mouth was something I had not been prepared for. Since then shallots have become one of my favorite kitchen ingredients. I make sure to plant lots of them and a few different varieties. The smaller French shallots have an intense almost herbal taste but they take some effort to peel. Because of this I also grow the larger varieties, they are easier to peel and have a more delicate taste for using raw.

I use shallots in my daily cooking to make simple vinaigrettes and marinades. I insert them into meats for roasting or just roast them with vegetables. They go into most of my pickles, chutneys and savory jellies. Despite all of these great ways to use an abundance of shallots, I still find myself with a pile of them that run the risk of going bad if I don’t use them (shallots don’t store as long as garlics and onions, so they must be refrigerated to keep them fresh). This is a perfect time to can up a batch of shallot marmalade. It’s a great way to have the intense flavor of shallots for using as a glaze for meats, vegetables, in salad dressings, or as a condiment for bread and cheese.

If you are not familiar with canning, it’s really pretty simple, but there are a few very important rules to follow. The most important thing to know about is…Clostridium Botulinum,aka,Botulism. This stuff can kill you. It’s a bacterium that grows in anaerobic, non-acidic environments. It is found naturally in soil and on produce. Canning, if not done properly, gives it the perfect environment to grow to toxic levels. The good news is that this bacterium is easily killed in a temperature range of 165-240 degrees for 10-12 minutes. This means the entire contents of the jar must come to that temperature for that long to be bacterium free. So here are your safe canning rules:

  • You must use USDA approved jars and lids. No chips in the glass. Use fresh lids every time.
  • If canning non-acidic foods or meats you must use a pressure canner, this is different from a pressure cooker.
  • Sterilize all equipment that comes in contact with your food – boil all utensils, jars and tops for 10 minutes.
  • Make sure your canning pot allows for 2″ of water above the jar and 2″ above that for boiling space.
  • Make sure your jellies, jams or marmalades are hot when put into the jar for sealing.
  • Leave 1/2″ of space at the top of the jar before sealing to account for expansion.
  • Always use the USDA recommended boiling time as per your recipe when processing foods.
  • Before serving home canned foods check for signs of spoilage; mold, discoloration, bad smell, a loose top or explosion upon opening.

Basically you want to eliminate bacteria, and if you are doing a hot water bath, your food must have a certain amount of acidity.

Here is my basic shallot marmalade recipe. You can create variations to this by spicing it up with rosemary, caraway seed, cumin seed or any herb or spice you want to experiment with.

Shallot Marmalade

  • 1 pound shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 T olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • A few grinds of pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2T honey
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup chopped raisins

Sauté the shallots in the oil for 10 minutes or until soft.

Stir in salt, brown sugar, honey, vinegar and raisins. Cook while stirring until it becomes thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Put into 1/2 pint jars while hot, wipe rims with a moist clean towel, dry, seal with lids and put into a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from bath and let cool on a wire rack or dish cloth.

Come on down to Fifth Season and check out our selection of shallots, garlics and onions, plus canning supplies and equipment. We have everything you need to enjoy your summer harvest throughout the year!

Storing onions

Though shallots and bulbing onions are grown for their bulbs they can be harvested and eaten at any time during their life cycle. When the plants are young – just before and just after bulbing begins – both the white bottoms and green tops can be eaten raw as a salad ingredient. As the plants get older, their green tops get tough and become unsuitable for eating raw, though they are good chopped up and cooked in stews and sauces. The immature bulbs grow larger and can be either eaten raw in salads or used in cooked dishes.

When bulbing onions are young they can be eaten as a salad onion

Despite the usefulness of shallots and bulbing onions as young plants, they are normally left to mature and produce full-sized bulbs that are dried and stored for the winter. Each bulb is made up of a fleshy interior surrounded by 2 or 3 layers of a thin, papery skin that protects the inside against moisture loss and disease attack. Further protection is guaranteed by careful handling since bumps will damage the bulbs and affect storage life.

Onions usually mature from August to September, though shallots will do so somewhat earlier. At maturity, the leafy tops will naturally fall over at the necks, i.e., the juncture between the bulbs and tops. The bulbs should be harvested when at least half the tops have fallen. They should be eased out of the ground without being damaged. Once they are lifted, they then need to be dried, which should be done with the green tops still attached to the bulbs.

Shallot and onion crop still growing with their green top growing upwards.

When at least half of the green tops have fallen the bulbs should be harvested.

Drying must be done where it is both warm and dry. A perfect spot is inside a polytunnel or greenhouse, which provides extra warmth and protection from rain. To aid drying, keep the bulbs off the floor by laying them out either on a greenhouse bench, overturned box or wooden pallet. Make sure the temperature inside the structure doesn’t exceed 27ºC, otherwise the skin might split and reduce the chances of long-term storage. Weather permitting, the bulbs can also be dried outdoors, though they may have to be moved inside if the weather turns cool and wet.

Drying is complete when the leaves have lost their green colour and make a rustling sound when disturbed. By then, the neck will be well-sealed, and the leaves can be removed to make storing easier.

Almost invariably, a few plants develop thick necks and won’t die down like the others. To avoid disappointment, it is easier to use them straight from the garden rather than trying to dry them.

Once drying is complete, store the bulbs in a frost-free and preferably well-ventilated place such as a shed or garage. They can be held in plastic mushroom boxes stacked on top of each other, though they can also be packed into nets or, if the leaves are kept on, tied into plaits and suspended to allow air circulate around them.

Onions can be dried in a plait

Stored bulbs come to an end when they start sprouting green leaves. Most onion varieties will keep until March or so, though Long Red Florence won’t last into the New Year, while Ailsa Craig will keep only until February. Shallots are at the top of the storage league table, staying in sound condition well into July.

Long Red Florence (left) won’t last into the New Year; Ailsa Craig (right) will keep up to February the following year.

© Michael Michaud

What Is A Shallot?

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How to Store Onions, Garlic, & Shallots

For years I’ve stored onions, garlic and shallots in plastic bins in a kitchen drawer. Like this:

That works fine if I use everything up right away, but honestly that doesn’t happen very often. Instead, I stock up on onions, garlic or shallots for use in specific recipes, and some of them end up hanging around in the drawer for awhile. Here’s how some of them look after 2 or 3 months; rotten, moldy, or sprouting…..wasted:

A few months ago, my mom (aka Grammy) came to the rescue. Last time I was visiting her, she showed me how she’d started storing her onions, garlic, and shallots. She raved about how putting them in a regular ol’ paper bag that’s been punched with holes can extend their life for months. Honestly? I was skeptical. But, my mom had seldom never been wrong before, so I decided to give it a try. The results? Here’s how my punched paper bag of onions looked after 3 months–as firm and fresh as when I bought them:

I’ve tried this with garlic and shallots, too, with the same great results.

Lesson learned: always listen to your mother. Apparently, the punched paper bags allow just enough air circulation to preserve these veggies for an extended period of time. Who knew?

Here’s how Grammy showed me to store my onions, garlic, and shallots. I’m a believer. It really works!

Here’s a short video to show you how easy this is:

Step-by-step photos for
How to store onions, garlic and shallots

Step 1. Gather the supplies:

  • onions, garlic, and/or shallots–make sure they are firm and blemish free. If you buy in bulk and find any with rotten spots or a soft texture, cut off the bad part and use right away; or toss it so it doesn’t contaminate the others.
  • brown paper bags–I used the lunch bag size, because they’re easy to fold and punch. Also, bigger bags hold a higher volume and density of onions, and that reduces the amount of air circulation around them and accelerates spoilage. Smaller quantities of onions in lunch size bags are ideal.
  • a hole punch–you can buy one of these anywhere that sells office or craft supplies.
  • marker–for labeling
  • paper clips–for holding the bag closed

view on Amazon: brown lunch bags, hole punch

Step 2. Punch the bags. This is how Grammy showed me to do it (and remember that she is seldom never wrong). Fold the bag in half lengthwise, punch along one edge; you’ll be punching thorough multiple layers. Flip the folded bag over and punch along the other edge; approximately 1″ between punches (but it doesn’t have to be perfect). The result is multiple rows of holes.

Step 3. Fill the bag up to half full, fold over the top, label it (if you’ll have more than one bag), and paper clip it to hold the top down.

How easy is that? I use more yellow onions than anything else and buy them in bigger quantities; so I have more than one punched bag to hold them all. The bags can be reused again and again until they wear out.

I store my bags in the same drawer in the kitchen as before. It’s important not to crowd them. Air needs to circulate around the bags–that’s the whole point of punching the holes. I use the same plastic bins as before; they help keep the bags upright and orderly and are roomy enough for air circulation between the bags. The bins can also be placed on pantry or cabinet shelves.

view on Amazon: my plastic bins

This punched paper bag method should extend the life of onions, garlic, and shallots in most situations. However, their specific life may vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and light conditions where the bags are stored.

Additional tips:

  • Temperature: These will last the longest in a dark, cool (but not cold), dry storage area. I’ve successfully kept them in my 65-70ish degree kitchen drawer for up to 3 months. A cool, dark basement is a good choice, if you happen to have one. Onions should not be stored for an extended time in the refrigerator because the cold temperature will soften their texture; plus, onions will impart their flavor on surrounding produce.
  • No plastic bags: Don’t ever store onions in plastic bags. That will accelerate sprouting and spoilage because of the lack of air circulation.
  • No potatoes nearby: Potatoes and onions should not be stored together. They give off gases that will accelerate spoilage of each other.

Also in my onion drawer:

  • I keep extra punched bags in the drawer, so they’re read to fill when I get home from grocery shopping.
  • I store my garlic press and peeler with my garlic, so they’re handy when I grab the garlic.

view on Amazon: easy garlic peeler

If you have problems with rotting onions, garlic or shallots, I encourage you to give this easy technique a try. Waste not, want not. (I’m pretty sure Grammy says that, too.)

Make it a Yummy day!

How to Store Onions, Garlic & Shallots By Monica Ingredients

  • onions, garlic, and/or shallots–make sure they are firm and blemish free. If you buy in bulk and find one that has rotten spots or a soft texture, cut off the bad part and use it right away; or toss it so it doesn’t contaminate the others.
  • brown paper lunch bags
  • hole punch
  • marker
  • paper clips

Directions Fold flattened paper bag lengthwise and punch holes along one long edge, approx. 1″ apart, punching through multiple layers at one time. Flip bag over and punch along opposite side. Open bag, insert onions, garlic or shallots; fill the bag up to half full. Fold top of bag over 2-3 times, label the top with a marker, and use a paper clip to hold the top in place. Store filled bags in cool, dark place, so that air can circulate between the bags.
This punched paper bag method should extend the life of onions, garlic, and shallots in most situations. However, their specific life may vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and light conditions where the bags are stored.
TEMPERATURE: These will last the longest in a dark, cool (but not cold), dry storage area. I’ve successfully kept them in my 65-70ish degree kitchen drawer for up to 3 months. A cool, dark basement is a good choice, if you happen to have one. Onions should not be stored for an extended time in the refrigerator because the cold temperature will soften their texture; plus, onions will impart their flavor on surrounding produce.
NO PLASTIC BAGS: Don’t ever store onions in plastic bags. That will accelerate sprouting and spoilage because of the lack of air circulation.
NO POTATOES NEARBY: Potatoes and onions should not be stored together. They give off gases that will accelerate spoilage of each other.

Harvesting Shallots: When Is It Time To Harvest A Shallot Plant

Many people think of shallots as a type of onion; however, they are their own species. Shallots grow in clusters and have a textured, copper-colored skin. Shallots are mild flavored and taste like a combination between onion and garlic. To get the most of your shallot crop, it’s important to know the best time for harvesting shallots in the garden. Keep reading to learn how to harvest shallots.

Growing Shallots

Shallots prefer soil that drains well and has a high composition of organic matter. The best soil pH for shallot is 6.3 to 6.8. Keeping shallot beds free of weeds is essential to good development and helps with shallot picking once the time to harvest a shallot plant arrives.

Shallots are grown from sets as well as transplants. Shallot plants benefit from a regular feeding of organic fertilizer. The root system of shallot plants is extremely shallow, and the plants need consistent water in order to thrive.

When to Harvest Shallots

Some people have a difficult time knowing when to harvest shallots. Both the plant tops and the bulbs can be eaten, so the time to harvest a shallot plant depends on the part you will be using.

The tops can be harvested within 30 days and are commonly used in soups, salads and stews.

The bulbs will take around 90 days to mature. Shallot bulb picking should begin when the greens of the plant start to wither, fall over and die. They will turn brown and become droopy while the bulbs will protrude from the soil and the outer skin becomes papery. This usually happens in mid to late summer.

How to Harvest Shallots

When it is time to harvest a shallot plant bulb, dig the bulbs, shake off the dirt, braid the tops and let them dry.

Use a digging fork to gently lift the entire clump out of the ground and gently shake off the soil. Allow the bulbs to dry out some in the garden for about a week or so, weather permitting. You can also store them in mesh bags in a cool and dry location.

Planting & Growing Shallots

Shallots are the “gourmet onion” with hints of garlic. Planting and growing shallots in your garden is easy and rewarding. Here’s what we recommend.

You may be familiar with shallots by the name “multiplier onions”, and you may have had them roasted or sautéed in your favorite restaurant meals – they’re a popular ingredient with amateur and professional chefs alike! If you search for shallot recipes, you’ll find thousands of ways to enjoy these alliums – close relatives of onions, garlic, and leeks. Shallots are also just as easy to grow as other alliums. Here’s what you need to know. Our shallots come as sets (individual dormant bulbs), ready to be planted when you receive them. You will plant each individual bulb, or head, so separate any bulbs that may arrive attached to one another prior to planting. You may notice that shallots are similar to onions in outer appearance, but inside you will find they have cloves rather than layers, which is more similar to garlic. Shallots, like other alliums, prefer growing in a nutrient-rich, loose soil that drains well.

  • If you have very loose, sandy soil, consider amending with compost and coco-fiber growing medium to add nutrients and improve water-retention.
  • If you have heavy, compact soil, consider amending with compost and coco-fiber growing medium to add nutrients and break up heavy soil to allow more even distribution of water.
  • You may also consider growing shallots in raised beds to get the most from your shallot harvest in a soil composition you have more control over.

If you grow your own garlic, growing shallots is quite similar! Shallots planted in the fall will need a layer of mulch for protection (4 to 6 inches), since shallots grow near the soil surface and have shallow root systems. Carefully remove excess mulch as the soil warms in spring. Shallots planted in the spring also benefit from and inch or two of mulch, as it protects the shallots from cold snaps and helps avoid the new bulbs from drying out.

  • Space each planting hole at least 4- to 6-inches apart in rows that are 12-inches apart.
  • Make sure shallot bulbs are planted root-end down and pointed-end up.
  • Plant bulbs just deep enough so that the tops are still visible.
  • Water thoroughly after planting. Avoid letting the shallots dry out, but do not overwater.
  • Remove all weeds as they appear to keep nutrient competition down.

Note: rain and irrigation may expose newly planted shallots, which may result in interest with certain birds. Re-cover any shallot bulbs that may become too exposed, and consider using garden netting to prevent birds from pulling up your shallots.

Harvesting Shallots

Shallots are ready to harvest in summer once the leafy tops wither (usually 90 days from planting) and a paper skin develops on the bulbs.

  • Carefully pull up shallots, leaves and all.
  • Gently remove as much soil as possible from the plants.
  • Store in a cool, dry place for about 7 days. If there is no precipitation in the weather forecast, you may leave the shallot harvest to dry in the garden. Partial shade is recommended if you are allowing shallots to cure in the garden to avoid sunburn.
  • Remove root ends and leafy tops and store (like onions and garlic) for future culinary use.

Many shallot growers also use the leafy tops as alternatives to green onions or chives in recipes. These can be harvested once the leafy tops have substantial growth, about a month after planting. Shallots make a great vegetable addition to the kitchen garden, especially if you already love onions and garlic. Grow your own shallots and add a gourmet touch to your favorite meals!

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