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Sydney Jordan Brown


By | Beet 2021 09 September | No Comments

Are you hoping to be a winner?  Then Allium cepa var. ascalonicum, is the ticket!


Of course, this particular “ticket,” rarely to be had at any market, is the classic shallot.

Why bother with this rather small prize of a bulb when you can have a heftier onion trophy?  Because, shallots are the real treasure among alliums, which include regular drying onions, ramps, garlic (and their scapes), scallions, leeks and bunching onions.


Ever heard of good things coming in small packages? It’s definitely true here since shallots trump the onion in many ways. To start with, they’re more delicately mild and sweet-flavored, with a hint of caramel and a touch of garlicky piquancy.


Shallots are also winners with their richness in fiber, vitamins A, B6, and C, potassium, folate, manganese and antioxidants (which are released when bulbs are sliced or crushed).


Although cultivated for thousands of years, today they’ve become a rather unknown treasure just waiting to be rediscovered.


Most likely originating in Southeast Asia, they spread throughout India and the Mediterranean region.  Noted in Greek history and literature, they were further transported through trading and general crop movements.


So why are shallots such a treasure?  If you’ve never had the pleasure of sampling one, you’re in for a real treat.


Although on the outside shallots may appear like an onion, if you cut one open, you’ll discover that instead of rings like onions, they’re composed of several cloves similar to garlic.


Aside from milder flavor, its texture, form and unique aroma make it a “favorites” winner for a diverse number of dishes.  You can use the bulbs, cook the leaves as a vegetable, add it to salads, pickle it, shave it raw, or even top your presentation with some shallot flowers.


Similar to garlic, shallots should be planted in autumn in our area.  Bulbs, not seeds, are the only way to receive your “prize” of cloves. Order bulbs as early as possible this month.


Shallots prefer a rich, moist soil that’s somewhat sandy, but they will grow in many soil types as long as they’re fertile and well-drained.


Break bulbs apart into individual cloves (like garlic) planting each one 6-8” apart with the root end down (points up, please!), then cover with more composted soil.  Leave about one-third of bulb tops exposed.  Sprinkle the soil surface generously with fine ashes so any fungus thieves won’t steal away your prize.


Keep lightly moistened by watering until rain (pray it comes this autumn) arrives.


Similar to garlic, shallots’ early leaves will die back in winter only to resprout in early spring when bulbs start forming.


Adding nitrogen-rich fertilizer will enhance your growing treasure, as will frequent watering.


In about 90-120 days when leaves have dried, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing jackpot.  After curing in a shaded, well-ventilated area for a couple weeks, they’ll be ready for you to savor. Your very own shallottery!



Did you know?

It takes 18 pounds of fresh shallots to make one pound dried?

In the US, shallots are also referred to as scallions, bunching, or spring onions, but of course they are all very different bulbs.

Some Asian cultures deep fry shallots as a condiment.

Shallot Sources:

Territorial Seeds


Dixondale Farms


Hudson Valley Seed Co


French gray shallot

Gardens Alive



Golden Caramelized Shallots

2 pounds whole shallots peeled (place in boiling water for 1 minute for skins to slip easily off)

2 tablespoons cooking-type olive oil

3 tablespoons honey, good maple syrup or agave nectar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (black may be used but is stronger)

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely minced

Zest of one organic lemon

Preheat oven to 400°.

In heavy ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil until hot.  Add shallots and honey, stirring until shallots begin to brown.  Add in vinegar, salt and pepper, then stir until shallots are well coated.  

Sprinkle the rosemary over the shallots and roast in oven about 20-30 minutes until caramelized.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon zest and serve as a side dish, a topping for meats, poultry, or seafood, or serve warm or chilled for salad.  Also great on a sandwich as a gourmet relish.

This rad is a dish!

By | Beet 2021 08 August | No Comments

There is definitely nothing dreary about this most distinctive vegetable, Raphanus sativus, the Red Meat radish.

Native to China (one of the first vegetables traded along the routes between Europe and Asia), Red Meat radishes, also known as Watermelon and Beauty Heart, are quite different from their daikon relations.

Likely originating in Southeast Asia or Central Asia, radishes have been cultivated for several thousand years. Its propagation for food and medicinal use by the ancient Greeks starting about 2,500 years ago, and continued by Romans, encouraged its spread across new lands.

It’s no wonder the original Chinese named them Xin Li Mei or Shinrimei, meaning “in one’s heart beautiful.” These names also denote the vibrancy of its fuchsia-colored flesh.

Unlike spring radishes, Red Meats are winter radishes that can be sown from mid-August through September.  

Tender but crisp, sweet flesh varies from mildly spicy to pungent and peppery. Though known for “watermelon-like” interiors, the exteriors are unique With shoulders of pale green fading to creamy white, Red Meats can grow anywhere from golf ball to soft ball size. 

Chefs have had a long-lived love affair with Red Meats since they pair so delightfully with many ingredients and dishes, from salads and stir-fries to sandwiches and appetizer plates. They’re delicious with fennel, tart goat cheeses, cooked eggs, and seafood or sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper.

Both roots and greens provide an excellent source of vitamin C, (this is particularly so when consumed raw), phenolic compounds and fiber.

Radishes contain isothiocyanate. This chemical compound serves as a natural pest repellent. When planted alongside other crops, the release of its pungent isothiocyanate compounds can repel weeds, pests and soil-born pathogens. What a deal from one tasty and unique little plant!

Although it’s a bit of a challenge in our area to sow seed successfully in August, especially during a summer of such searing summer heat, it can be done. Using shade cloth as well as a good coating of mulch on soil kept consistently moist will assist with more successful sprouting. The mulch will also retain needed moisture so watering may be kept to a minimum.

Sow presoaked seeds, (soaking in water overnight helps hard seeds sprout better), about ¼” deep in well amended soil that’s very friable. Radishes prefer lofty and light soil over heavy and hard soil for their temporary home.

Once they’ve sprouted, thin Red Meat radish seedlings to about 3” to 4” apart. This generous spacing will allow them adequate space to grow larger.

Depending on when they’re sown, you could well have your first spectacular radish root crop by summer’s end. And that’s not all.  If well protected with a good layer of mulch or straw, your radish roots will not only keep on growing, but will also bring forth even sweeter treats all winter long.

So, if you’re looking for a fiery and sweet sensational addition to your garden plot and serving plate, sow in some Red Meat seed to add some new “Rad” to your every dish.


Seed Sources:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Johnny’s Select Seeds

Pinetree Garden Seeds



Red Meat Radish Salad


3 Red Meat radishes, with roots removed and sliced thin

1 large seedless-type cucumber

4 cups arugula

4 oz herbed goat cheese

1/3 cup pistachio nuts

Lemon vinaigrette:

Lemon vinaigrette (best made 24 hours ahead)

Juice and zest from one organic lemon

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon honey, agave nectar or real maple syrup

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons minced tarragon (fresh or dried)


Put all ingredients in a pint jar with lid and shake until well blended. Refrigerate until needed.

On individual salad plates, mound arugula, then arrange slices of radish and cucumber on top.  Sprinkle goat cheese and pistachio nuts over each salad. Drizzle with lemon vinaigrette and serve.

Makes 4 servings.