Pronunciation: [SHAL-uht; shuh-LOT]
The name of this onion-family member (Allium ascalonicum) comes from Ascalon, an ancient Palestinian city where the shallot is thought to have originated. Shallots are formed more like garlic than onions, with a head composed of multiple cloves, each covered with a thin, papery skin. The skin color can vary from pale brown to pale gray to rose, and the off-white flesh is usually barely tinged with green or purple. The two main types of shallots are the Jersey or "false" shallot (the larger of the two) and the more subtly flavored "true" shallot. Fresh green shallots are available in the spring, but as with garlic and onions, dry shallots (i.e., with dry skins and moist flesh) are available year-round. Choose dry-skinned shallots that are plump and firm; there should be no sign of wrinkling or sprouting. Refrigerate fresh shallots for up to a week. Store dry shallots in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to a month. Freeze-dried and dehydrated forms are also available. Shallots are favored for their mild onion flavor and can be used in the same manner as onions.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.