Drying & Curing Shallots

May 30, 2007

Charlene left the following comment on a previous Veggie Gardening Tips Blog entry entitled Growing Shallots in which she inquired into curing shallots harvested from the backyard garden:

“We live in the deep south part of Louisiana. Our shallots are ready for harvest now. You spoke of drying and curing… could you please elaborate? I have an over zealous gardening husband and we are blessed with a very large amount, Thanks!”

Preserving Those Precious Shallot Bulbs

Hi Charlene, I can relate to your husband’s condition especially when it comes to growing shallots and garlic. Be sure to thank your over zealous gardener because fresh shallots are a delicious gourmet treat that you’d pay dearly for at the local market!

Curing shallots is a simple but important process, especially if you plan to store the bulbs or use them as seed stock. Begin by harvesting the mature shallots and lightly brush off any clumps of soil, being careful not to bruise the bulbs or damage the copper colored skins.

Work quickly or harvest the shallots in batches to avoid exposing them to direct sunlight for any length of time. And whatever you do, DON’T wash the shallots. It’s not that water will ruin the shallots, but it would draw out the curing process and open the door for mold and diseases.

Simple Shallot Drying & Curing Procedures

Leave the shriveled leaves and the roots attached at this point. It doesn’t matter whether the cloves remain attached together or are separated into individual pieces during curing. It may make it a little easier to manage by leaving the cloves attached to each other.

Spread the shallots out in a single layer in a dry and shaded location. You can set them up to cure indoors or out, as long as the area is dry and warm, but not hot; you want to cure the bulbs, not bake them. Ideally use containers such as mesh-like plastic trays or screening material that will allow air to circulate all around the bulbs.

Allow the freshly harvested shallots to dry and cure for a week or two and they will be ready for storage. Shallots can be eaten right from the garden without curing, but the curing process will enable the bulbs to keep better in storage and may also help to control the spread of diseases.

Storing Cured Shallot Bulbs

After the curing is complete cut off whatever remains of the dried shallot leaves and trim the roots if desired. Until they are needed in the kitchen you will want to keep the bulbs dry and cool, but do not refrigerate them.

They will keep well under the same conditions that you would store onions or garlic bulbs. Store in shallow ventilated containers or mesh onion bags. Check the shallots periodically to remove any bulbs that are sprouting or have spoiled.

With care you’ll enjoy your own delicious shallots for many months to come. But before you get carried away preparing gourmet meals, set aside enough of the largest and healthiest looking shallot cloves to use as your own seed stock for the next season’s crop.

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • This was helpful; as my shallots are ready to harvest (today is 6/17/08) and this will be my first year growing shallots. My neighbor had me dig up his garden early this spring and to take all the shallots I wanted… Thanks Homer.

  • Vic in Seattle

    I planted shallots back in March and they “fell over” this month (June) I pulled them and they are drying now. My question is, How long do they need to be out of the ground before I can replant them? My climate allows for nearly year around growing and I would like to get another round of shallots before the Fall planting.

    BTW, I use raised beds and intensive inter-cropping. This single bed, 12.5 square feet has produced 4 pounds of rhubarb, 9 pounds of strawberries, and over 10 pounds of shallots since February of this year. Raised beds are the way to go!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Vic, I’m with you regarding the raised beds, there are just so many advantages to gardening that way! There’s no requirement to take the shallots out of the ground at all (other than to separate the cloves) so you can replant them whenever you like but I’m not sure that they will sprout as soon as they are replanted. A lot of seeds have a natural rest period built in to prevent them from sprouting too soon when they would have no chance of maturing before conditions such as the approach of winter would interrupt their growth. Most growing regions don’t offer the opportunity to raise and harvest three crops of shallots in a season, but you can always plant a test crop now and see what type of results you get. Good luck and let me know how the shallots turn out for you.

  • Vic in Seattle

    Dear Kenny,
    Thanks for the info. I took the chance and replanted the medium sized shallots right back in the garden. (I make shallot pickles out of the smallest ones….YUM!) Given our climate and the hardiness of shallots, they should be fine here year around. Last winter we only had about 14 days nights below 32F and I am sheltered against a rock wall so I didn’t see much frost in the garden at all.

  • Frances Zimmermann

    After I harvested my shallots, I laid them on a screen in the shade for about two weeks, some, maybe three weeks. They started turning green, does anybody know why? Did I leave them out too long?

    Thanks, Frances

  • Kenny Point

    Yes Frances, sounds like you left the shallots out for too long… even though you placed them is a shady location they must have still received too much sunlight while curing. Maybe next time you can lay a sheet from a brown paper bag over the top of them.

  • Al Hurd

    I live in Ohio zone 4 and in Feb. 1st I planted Shallots for the first time ever . In June I picked and had them on a 1/4″ mesh screen to dry . After 2 or
    3 weeks I cut the tops off , but left them on the screen in the garage .
    Today I had to throw out about 1/2 of them . They were going soft ,
    they started out firm . What did I do wrong ? I’m saving the rest to plant
    in Oct. for next year . But I don’t want a repeat of this year .
    When I picked them all the tops were laying over and starting to get brown
    and the Shallots were showing on top of the ground . Did I pick too soon , should I have waited till July or Aug ??
    Thanks For The Help

  • Thanks for all the information!

  • Daniele LeBel

    Where can you buy shallot plantlets?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Daniele, many of the garlic or potato seed suppliers also carry shallot seed as well. You can also find them for sale at many of the heirloom and specialty seed suppliers such as Nichols Garden Nursery or Territorial Seed.

  • Daniele LeBel

    Thank you. Found some at American Meadows .com. and thank you for the “curing process” recommendation.

  • cheryl sukhtian

    I live in Amman, Jordan. We only have a few days in winter when the temps drop to 0 centigrade. Most of the winter the temp is about 5-8 centigrade. I bought a package of shallots from Dubai and brought them to Jordan to try to plant them. It is May 9 and temps are around 26 centigrade (high) but drop about 10 degrees at night. Is it too late to plant shallots?

  • kenneth

    A lot of useful info. Really enjoyed .

  • Amy in Austin

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’m going out to harvest my shallots this morning – the stems fell over and I thought that might be the clue that they are ready to harvest. Really appreciate your tips for drying and curing the shallots. A neighbor shared some shallot starts with me from a plant sale – pass-along plants are the best.

  • Kenny Point

    Cheryl, I like to plant shallots in the fall season here in PA but they are a fast maturing crop and I don’t think that early May is too late to plant them. Since you already have the seed you may as well try and see what results you get. Good luck!

  • Great site with good information and thanks for the e-book.

  • jon in portland

    I cure mine by braiding the tops together. I make a rope 2 feet or so long then hang them from a nail in my garage. I do this with both garlic and shallots. When ready to use them I just snip off the needed amount.

  • Virginia Braden

    If anyone knows, I would be interested in hearing the answers to Al Hurd’s questions. What made his shallots go bad? That would be such a disappointment. I just harvested my beautiful shallots today, June 22nd. They were planted last October. I want to use some of them as seeds for planting again in October and I’m wondering if they will still be good for planting or will they be too dried out by then. If I need to order new ones for planting, it is probably time to get on the list as my supply source sells out early. Same with my garlics which I just harvested. I’m wondering if the garlic and shallots will still be moist enough for planting in October. Or better yet, how can I keep them moist. I live in the high desert of New Mexico and it is really dry here. Don’t use a/c…just a ceiling fan. I’m afraid the mice will eat them if I put them in the basement.

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  • Bonny Wagner

    I had a very prolific shallot harvest this year and will plan on saving some to replant in the fall. I have heard differing opinions on which cloves to plant. Some say replant the smallest cloves due to the shallots growing cycle, some say, like garlic , to plant the largest cloves. Any suggestions?

  • Kenny Point

    I prefer planting the larger cloves, but you can always plant various sizes, mark them, and see if there is a difference in the results that you get from next year’s harvest.

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