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.
Hudson Valley Seed Co
French gray shallot
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.
I never realized how much water I used on my yard and garden until I had to haul it myself. Ordinarily, I use TID water, which is pumped to my property by our community
water district. In past years, I took
for granted that come early May, I could turn on the valve and an unlimited amount of irrigation water would be available 24 hours a day until late September or early October. I had an inground watering system installed in the front yard which is difficult to water any other way and laid miles of soaker hoses everywhere else. The irrigation water was not metered, so I used what I needed without much thought as to how much that was.
In mid-July, TID abruptly shut off the water for this year. What to do? Unlike those of you with city water, I am unable to use domestic water which comes from community wells that are not producing enough for normal use this year, due to the continuing drought. That leaves water delivery or haul-it-yourself. Since the water delivery services are over-subscribed this year, I had little choice but to make the trek out to the Medford Water Department and drop quarters in the meter. There is only so much gray water I can capture from showers and washing.
I must admit I was unprepared for the magnitude of the problem this water shortage would cause, despite the fact I knew it was coming. Mostly, I’m concerned about my trees, which are young and still getting established. So, I have become a member of the bucket brigade, hand watering my extensive landscape.
More recently, I have added an electric ½ HP pump to distribute the water. I spent the past week hauling water using my neighbor’s truck and now I know it will take about 800-1,000 gallons of water per week to keep my trees, landscape plants and vegetable garden alive. That’s not to say they will thrive on that, and it is, I am chagrinned to say, much less than what I used in previous years. With the smoke, excessive heat, fire danger and lack of water this year, (I can’t believe I’m saying this…) winter cannot come soon enough!
But, I also know that this drought is not a one-time thing. It has actually been with us for many years, and we are now feeling the effects of long-term drought. According to NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, most of Oregon has been in a more or less severe drought for the past 20 years (at least), with only a few exceptional years of normal rainfall and snow pack. This summer, we have had the most severe, prolonged drought conditions of the past 20 years. I don’t have a crystal ball, but it probably doesn’t require one to see the future.
While it is true that I need a more permanent, reliable source of summer water than TID, I also need to use less water. I am seriously considering how to “edit” my plantings to fit the conditions. This year I pared back my vegetable garden, but it, too, could use some further reduction. Although I am reluctant to eliminate roses, I do have 63, and well, I guess, maybe, possibly I could do without so many. I love them, but they really love water. Sigh…
What gives me hope is that there are many lovely waterwise alternatives, including the natives in JCMGA’s own native plant nursery. Recently, I stopped at Chipotle in Medford and as I passed through the parking lot, the xeriscape caught my attention. They have some of the nicest grass landscape plantings I have seen. If you’re curious about how low-water grasses can be artfully used in a landscape, also check out the plantings around the new Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Garfield Street in South Medford.
Turning to September in the vegetable garden, this is the month to get your fall garden in the ground if you haven’t already. With the unusually hot summer, you may have delayed planting some vegetables. Hopefully, early September will bring some respite and enable you to get good germination from direct sowing leafy greens such as arugula, corn salad, garden cress, lettuce, kale, mustard and turnip greens and spinach. Use shade cloth overtop if temperatures are still high and keep the soil moist. Lettuce requires light to germinate, so don’t cover seeds with more than a light dusting of soil. If you are going to plant a cover crop of fava beans, now until mid-October is the time to do it.
If you sowed seeds for transplanting, it’s time to get broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage and Pak Choi in the ground. Ditto for shallots, garlic, and onions (both to use as green onions and for harvesting next June or July).
Cooler weather is coming and eventually rain and snow. But how much? Probably not as much as we need. This fall and winter are the time to prepare for our “new normal” – hotter temperatures and less water. What changes will you need to make in your garden? Although the cities in the Rogue Valley have not yet rationed water, that could happen. Having lived in California for 42 years, I remember water rationing. Get ready. Be ready for next year by editing your garden and trying something new like xeriscaping, natives, ground covers in place of your lawn, and who knows what else. Doing nothing is probably not an option for most people. I’d like to hear what you decide to do.
Greetings Jackson County Master Gardeners.
As we approach fall and cooler weather, I hope you are all staying well. This has been a crazy summer as we joyfully reopened at Extension, then watched with dismay as COVID-19 raged through the county, causing us to slow and delay our many planned activities once again.
Despite all this, we were still able to accomplish much: a quick yard sale and plant sale in late July which netted us over $3,000 in much needed income, installation of shelving units in our storage containers in the parking lot, and of course, garden clean-ups and maintenance, which is ongoing.
There is much more to share with you and to do this, we are inviting all of you to our SEPTEMBER ALL MEMBER MEETING. This will take place via Zoom on September 10th, from 9:00 – 9:30 am, followed immediately by our regular board meeting. Please plan to attend! As always, all members are welcome to attend all board meetings, so you might consider staying with us after 9:30 to get a feel for how the association works. From 9:00 – 9:30 am, we will be reviewing our accomplishments over the past year and recruiting members for our various committees and working groups. If you have an interest in becoming more involved with Jackson County Master Gardeners, please plan to attend the membership meeting. The Zoom link to the meeting is below. Just click on this link on September 10, between 8:45 – 9:00 am, and join us. Hope to see you all there!
And remember: GARDEN FOR LIFE!
Join JCMGA Membership Zoom Meeting
Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 at 9:00 am PDT
Meeting ID: 815 4833 6872