Shallot ownership and cultivation
The shallot (Allium ascalonicum) is a plant native to the Asia Minor and has properties very similar to those of the onion, in fact it belongs to the same family, Liliaceae, like garlic and chives.
The benefits of shallots, cultivation and its uses in the kitchen
There are different species with different sizes and colors: the most valuable variety is the gray shallot, with a delicate flavor, the yellow one (Dutch) is among the most similar to the onion, the pink variety is less spicy, the brunorossastro is the most widespread and it is the Romagna one. In Emilia Romagna the shallot is very valuable and has the IGP (Protected Geographical Indication)
The therapeutic properties of shallots are attributed to allicin, a natural antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory substance.
Allium ascalonicum is similar to garlic and is divided into segments like garlic, but in a single shell.
It is a plant that does not make flowers, therefore it does not reproduce by pollination, but it is necessary to plant the bulbs in November.
It prefers clayey, well-drained soils, well-endowed with potassium and organic and sunny substances, without requiring special care. To sow in the same soil it is enough to let time pass, at least a year, even from the last fertilization, does not like excessive fertilizations; better to rotate it with salads or carrots.
Shallots up to eight months can be kept in the form of traces such as garlic.
- It is rich in vitamins and folic acid
The vitamins present are A, C (approximately 13% GDA), those of group B, B6 represents 17% of GDA and folate, important in pregnancy to prevent malformations, but at all ages because it is essential for the functioning of nervous system and for the production of red blood cells.
- Helps supplement essential mineral salts
Contains minerals such as sodium, calcium , phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron (8.6% GDA indicative daily amount), manganese, copper (7.5% GDA), selenium and zinc.
- Lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
Like garlic, shallots contain allicin, an organic sulfur compound with a typical pungent odor, which has many properties. Allicin is antibiotic, antifungal, reduces pressure, has an antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, thus helping against cardiovascular risk.
- Contains quercetin, an indispensable bioflavonoid
The Quercetin belongs to the group of bioflavonoids, and how the allicin is a natural substance capable of acting positively against nausea, asthma, and headache.
- Promotes blood circulation and capillaries
Anthocyanins, which give the bulb purple color, are valuable for capillaries and circulation.
- Effective against coughs and colds
The shallot is useful to reduce the symptoms of the cold, in the form of decoction by boiling a shallot, cut into slices, in 100 ml of water, for 5 minutes. To improve the taste it is possible a teaspoon of eucalyptus honey.
- Easy to digest and leaves no bad breath
The shallot is more digestible than the onion and garlic and does not cause many problems to the breath, however in this case, chewing of basil, mint or a clove helps, also digestion.
How to cultivate it, how to preserve it, what it contains, when it is useful, the decoction and the uses
The ideal time for sowing the shallot is in spring when average temperatures are around 10 ° C. or during the autumn, if the season is not too rigid.
Shallot cultivation does not require particular difficulties or needs, it is advisable to use a fertile soil to obtain the best result, possibly not excessively clayey and dry. This rule applies to both pot and vegetable cultivation, because shallots do not require much water.
The shallot is an annual plant and it reproduces through its bulbs, its sowing is identical to that of garlic and onion and is very simple.
How to grow shallots in the vegetable garden:
After plowing the land, keep in mind that the shallot should be buried not too deeply and about 2 centimeters from the surface and with at least 15 centimeters between one plant and another. If the ground in your garden is large enough it is also advisable to keep at least half a meter between one row and another to facilitate movement and collection.
How to grow potted shallots:
Planting shallots in pots is very similar to garlic and onion. You can also use waste parts in addition to the vegetable, although it is preferable to bury an entire bulb to ensure the safety of the sowing.
Regarding the shape of the vases there is no preference between round and rectangular, as long as they are not too small it is in fact preferable not to plant too many bulbs in a single vase, because the shallot requires at least ten centimeters of living space.
Place the vase in a well-lit position but not directly exposed to the sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day, especially during the summer or the plant could die.
Proceed watering moderately and periodically once every two days, but do not overdo it, because the shallot does not require an abundance of water.
How to harvest shallots:
The best time for harvesting is between June and July, if sowing was done in spring, otherwise in early January or February if it started in the fall.
Harvesting takes place by removing the bulbs from the ground, removing any excess soil and allowing them to dry for at least 2 weeks. As far as storage is concerned, a dry and dark place at room temperature is sufficient.
The growth of the shallot lasts about 4 months, and one of the first signs to keep an eye on is the possible yellowing of its leaves before harvesting.
The use of shallots in the kitchen
Once upon a time the shallot was widely used, especially in Emilia Romagna, where it was eaten raw with bread and oil. Today it is still widespread in the French and Emilian tradition, coming back in various haute cuisine and refined gastronomy, especially in the michelin restaurants.
This vegetable is particularly used as the onion, in the sautéed, in the soups, in the savory pies and it is also cooked in the oven, just like the onion. When consumed cooked it can be slightly bitter, while when eaten raw it retains all its nutritional properties.