The shallot, also called "multiplier onion", is a variety of the onion, Allium cepa L. var. aggregatum. Formerly classified as the species A. ascalonicum, a name now considered a synonym of the correct name. In Australia, the term "shallot" can also refer to scallions, while the term eschalot is used to refer to the shallot described in this article. The term "shallot" is further used for the French gray challot or griselle, Allium oschaninii, which has been considered to be the "true shallot" by many. It is a species that grows wild from Central to Southwest Asia.
Shallots probably originated in Central or South-East Asia, traveling from there to India and the eastern Mediterranean. The name "shallot" comes from Ashkelon, an Israeli city, where people in classical Greek times believed shallots originated.
Like garlic, shallots are formed in clusters of offsets with a head composed of multiple cloves. Their skin color can vary from golden brown to gray to rose red, and their off-white flesh is usually tinged with green or magenta. Shallots are much favored by chefs because of their firm texture and sweet, aromatic, yet pungent, flavor.
The shallot is a relative of the onion, and tastes a bit like an onion, but has a sweeter, milder, yet richer and more complex flavour. Shallots tend to be more expensive than onions. They can be stored for at least 6 months.
Shallots are extensively cultivated for use in fresh cooking, in addition to being pickled. Finely sliced deep-fried shallots are used as a condiment in Asian cuisine. (Often eaten alongside with porridge)
Shallots are propagated by offsets, which, in the Northern Hemisphere, are often planted in September or October, but the principal crop should not be planted earlier than February or the beginning of March. In planting, the tops of the bulbs should be kept a little above ground, and it is a commendable plan to draw away the soil surrounding the bulbs when their roots have taken hold. They should not be planted on ground recently manured. They come to maturity about July or August, although they can now be found year-round in supermarkets.
Similar to onions, raw shallots release chemicals that irritate the eye when sliced, resulting in tears. See onion for a discussion of this phenomenon.
Shallots appear to contain more flavonoids and phenols than other members of the onion family.
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