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Shallots nutrition facts

Shallots or eschalots are long slender bulbs in the Allium family of root vegetables. In general, they differ from onions in being smaller, and grow in clusters of bulbs from each plant root system. The bulbs have less sharp in pungency than that of onions and garlic which makes them one of the favorite of chefs all around the world.

The bulb vegetable are probably originated in the Central Asian region and now grown as major commercial crop in all the continents. Botanically, the bulb vegetables belong to the Alliaceae family of the genus Allium. Scientific name: Allium cepa var. aggregatum.

Shallots are cool season perennials grown as annual crop like in onions. The easiest way to grow them is from sets, usually available from nearby garden centers. The plant reaches about 50 cm in height and bears 1-5 cloves of bulblets just underneath the ground surface. The plant takes about 100 days when the bulbs are ready for harvest. Mature bulbs are then cured under dry air and stored in the same manner as onions. Like in other allium species, shallots top greens and flower heads are also eaten in many parts of world.

Health benefits of Shallots

  • Shallots have better nutrition profile than onions. Have more anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins on weight per weight basis than onions.

  • They are rich source of flavonoid anti-oxidants such as quercetin, kemferfol…etc. Further, they contain sulphur anti-oxidant compounds such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide. These compounds convert to allicin through enzymatic action following disruption of their cell surfaces by actions like crushing, cutting...etc.

  • Research studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal activities.
  • Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by releasing vasodialator chemical nitric oxide (NO) and thereby help bring reduction in the total blood pressure. Further research studies suggest that allicicn blocks platelet clot formation in the blood vessels that helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.

  • The phyto-chemical compounds allium and Allyl disulphide in onion have anti-mutagenic (protects from cancers) and anti-diabetic properties (helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetics).

  • Shallots have several fold more concentration of vitamins and minerals than in onions, especially vitamin A, pyridoxine, folates, thiamin, vitamin C...etc. Pyridoxine (B-6) helps raises GABA chemical levels in the brain that help sooth nervous irritability. In addition, 100 g fresh shallots have 1190 IU (35% RDA) of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • They are also good in minerals and electrolytes than onions particularly iron, calcium, copper, potassium, and phosphorus.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 72 Kcal 3.6%
Carbohydrates 16.80 g 13%
Protein 2.50 g 5%
Total Fat 0.10 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%

Folates 34 mcg 9%
Niacin 0.200 mg 1.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.290 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.345 mg 26.5%
Riboflavin 0.020 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.060 mg 5%
Vitamin A 1190 IU 35%
Vitamin C 8 mg 13%

Sodium 12 mg 1%
Potassium 334 mg 7%

Calcium 37 mg 4%
Copper 0.088 mg 10%
Iron 1.20 mg 15%
Magnesium 21 mg 5%
Manganese 0.292 mg 13%
Phosphorus 60 mg 8.5%
Selenium 1.2 mcg 2%
Zinc 0.40 mg 4%

Selection and storage

Fresh shallots are readily available during spring and early summer season. Wet and humid conditions hamper their flavor and storage life. In the supermarkets, however, they are available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, powdered, and dehydrated forms.

While buying, look for well-shaped, fresh, clean, well-formed bulbs with thin coppery-brown dry outer skin.

Like in onions, avoid those that show sprouting or signs of black mold (a type of fungal attack) as they indicate that the stock is old. In addition, poor quality bulbs often have soft spots, moisture at their neck, and dark patches, which may all be indications of decaying.

Unlike onions, eschalots tend to perish early. At home, store them in cool dark place away from moisture and humid conditions where they keep fresh for several days. They can also keep well in the refrigerator; however, you should use them soon once you remove from the refrigerator since they tend to spoil if they kept at room temperature for a while.

Preparation and serving methods

Shallots have mild pungent flavor. Unlike onions, their taste will not hit your sinuses, or burn tongue. Unlike garlic, they have less of an impact on the breath.

To prepare, trim the ends using paring knife. Then peel the outer 2-3 layers of skin until you find fresh thick pinkish-white whorls. They may be used as a whole or you can slice or cut them into fine cubes/rings depending upon the recipe type in way similar to onions. Being smaller, eschalots cook easily.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Fresh shallots either used in salads whole or chopped into cubes.

  • In many Asian cooking, the bulbs are being used liberally in the preparation of curries, gravy, chutney, soups, stews, and pastes.

  • Thinly sliced bulbs caramelized and served as spicy garnish over burgers, grilled chicken, parathas, kachori, pakore (India and Pakistan)...etc.

  • Like in onions, they are one of the common ingredients in pasta, pizza, noodles, stew-fries, spice stuffing...etc.

  • The bulbs are also used in pickling, sauces...etc.

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