Shallots are one of the smallest varieties in the onion family. Shallots are thought to have originated in China around 2000 B.C. and were once considered sacred by Persians and Egyptians.
Shallots have long been a staple in Mediterranean, French, and American cuisine and are still popular today with many gourmets. Their mild flavor is reminiscent of a sweet onion with a hint of garlic.
Shallots have a pear-shaped bulb that separates into 2 or 3 cloves. Once peeled, it divides into cloves like garlic, rather than one bulb with concentric layers like an onion. Small shallot bulbs will have 2 to 3 individual cloves and large shallots can have up to 6 cloves.
The shallot has a mild flavored purplish-white flesh that will not overpower other ingredients.This is why shallots are commonly used to flavor meats, stews, soups, and sauces. When used raw for salads and vinaigrettes, it provides a subtle yet distinct flavor with only a slight amount of heat. In comparison, an onion's presence is more noticeable and requires a greater amount of cooking time to mellow the intensity of the flavor.
Shallots also have a more impressive nutrition profile than onions. One tablespoon of chopped shallots is high in potassium, Vitamin A, and folate. They also contain flavonoids, a type of antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables that can help protect the body and may reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The most popular shipping variety is the French Conservor variety due to its low moisture content and long shelf-life.