Marlborough Shallots

With their golden brown skins and pink outer flesh, shallots are a pleasing alternative to onions, not only in flavour but also in appearance. Use them whenever a recipe calls for an onion, they are milder, sweeter, less acidic and mellow in taste. Sometimes you could replace a shallot with the whites of a leek or spring onion, or a mild red onion (be careful as this will change the appearance) but if a recipe features 'shallot' in its title or has more than a few tablespoons of shallot as an ingredient then the recipe has been created to showcase the shallot and no substitute will work.

With a six month growing period shallot seed is sourced from Australia and Holland and drilled (machine planted) in Marlborough ideally during the month of September. For optimum growth shallots require heat and fertiliser and a little water. Too much water attracts Downy Mildew a disease that rots the leaves and destroys the bulb.

Harvest time occurs around the end of March, sometimes April, depending on the season. If all goes well the machine harvest will take three to four days and the dug shallots lay on the ground for three weeks in the Marlborough sun and heat to cure.

The shallots are then scooped up by machine and transferred to the air dryers at the Garlico factory to finish curing. After curing they are packed for local sales, national and international markets.

To prolong the life of your shallots, store in a cool, dark, dry spot and keep away from other fruit and vegetables. Or you could chop or slice the shallots and freeze for up to three months. Be careful not to eat very soft or discoloured stored shallots, as they will be at the end of their shelf life.

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