As temperatures drop and the hours of daylight decrease, many gardeners abandon their gardens and wait for spring to harvest their winter growers, but January marks the best time to plant shallots. Shallots are a type of onion that originate from Central and Southwest Asia; they are closely related to other recipe regulars such as garlic, chive and leeks. The modern name ‘shallot’ actually comes from an ancient Greek city named Ashkelon, where it was once thought the onion variety originated from. Despite being smaller than the common white onion, the shallot is renowned by many French chefs for adding depth and complexity to dishes, making the vegetable a staple in most French dishes. This article will explore the unique features of the shallot and provide some useful tips for growing shallots over the festive season.
Many confuse shallots for being an undergrown white or red onion, but they have many characteristics that separate them from their vegetable family members. To start with, shallots are usually much smaller in size, and size varies between the European and Asian varieties. A European shallot is typically 5cm-6.5cm tall and is 2.5cm-4cm wide, usually weighing approximately 40g. The Asian shallot is smaller than its European cousin with a height and width between 2.5cm-3cm, and weighing only 15g. When cutting through a shallot you will find that it has much finer layers compared to typical onions and will contain less water, this means shallots have to be cooked more gently than other onions. Many also believe that shallots can replace onions in recipes, however, this is not the case. The shallot has a milder and sweeter taste and is typically used in dressings, soups and stews. If shallots are unavailable, the closest match for taste would be the spring onion rather than traditional white and red onions.
Shallots are often hard to find in supermarkets, January marks the perfect time to brave the cold and plant during January when in the Northern Hemisphere. Due to different weather patterns, shallots need to be planted in early spring for growers in the Southern Hemisphere. When planting baby bulbs, the top of the bulb should be kept slightly above ground and the soil surrounding the bulb is drawn away once the roots have become established. Shallots grow in clusters of offsets and should be harvested over summer, making a great addition to summer plates. The skin of shallots can vary in colour from golden brown to rose red. When selecting shallots, choose those that are firm and have no soft spots or damp patches. To prepare your shallots, simply top, tail and peel the shallot and either slice finely or dice the vegetable.
M&P Engineering offers a small onion peeler that can be used to top, tail and peel varieties of shallots between 18mm to 45mm. The shallot peelers use a unique patented system to remove the outer skin in a dry environment, preventing the formation of slurry. The shallot peeling machine is simple to operate and produces hand peeled quality at industrial speeds. Our years’ of experience as onion machine manufacturers and with continuous investment in food processing machinery innovation, M&P Engineering provides onion processing equipment that you can rely on.
Based in Trafford Park, M&P Engineering also offers a range of food processing equipment including its rotary piston fillers, rotary solids fillers and inline fillers. Also, M&P Engineering now offers fresh-cut machinery including its carousel grid cutting machine that cuts fruits and vegetables into fries, batons, wedges, petals and slices. M&P Engineering also stocks a range of used food processing equipment that can be delivered and installed to your requirements.
If you would like to find out more information about M&P Engineering’s small onion peeler, speak to a member of the team on +44 (0)161 872 8378 or contact us here.