Refined flavour and milder in taste than onions, shallots are something I’d have thought I’d be automatically drawn to produce on the allotment. Surprisingly, until this year, I had not.
They proved unbelievably easy to grow and the generous clusters of golden-skinned orbs were a pleasure to harvest in the summer.
The decision to grow them was not one of desire to create a classic French sauce (of which they are a must). No, my intentions were much more down to earth.
Last Christmas, as I sat in front of the T. V munching my way through a jar of shop bought pickled onions, I considered the possibility of growing my own.
The trouble was finding a suitable variety to grow the type of pickled onions I enjoy. I’m not a huge fan of the little silver skins – although I’d happily drop a couple into a Gibson.
I threw the issue out to the wonderful people on my Twitter and kicked myself when they told me the obvious solution. Shallots.
Leaving the Banana variety out it, shallots are the perfect size, shape and texture for the pickled onions I enjoy.
I wanted to keep the pickled shallots simple in flavour and in process. They work terrifically well in balsamic or sherry vinegar, but it comes with a higher price tag too. As I often do, I turned to one of my favourite preserving books and found exactly what I was looking for.
To ensure a crunch when the time comes for eating, I salted the peeled shallots overnight. Washed them in cold water before packing them into jars with a bay leaf.
The vinegar couldn’t be easier. White malt, a few cloves and a pinch of mace boiled together in a pan before pouring over the shallots.
The hardest part will be resisting them until at least December.
This recipe and many other wonderful ways to preserve your homegrown produce can be found in the delightful book Preserves: A beginner’s guide to making jams and jellies, chutneys and pickles
How about you? If you’ve pickled shallots before, let me know the recipe you used. If you have some onions you’ve grown for pickling, I’d love to know what varieties you’ve used.
(Note: There are some affiliate links in this post, which means you can click on them to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee. It doesn’t affect the price you pay.)
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