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Eschalote Grise are honoured in France by the best chefs


Photo: Eschalote Grise

Photo: Eschalote Grise

If I had to chose between growing shallots or onions, shallots would win every time. The best are packed with soft, intense flavours. They put ordinary onions in the shade. And they store well.

The first year that I grew them, I did rather well with my banana shallots and was able to dry them, plait them in ropes and even give them away. Since then shallots have not flourished in the kitchen garden, rotting without shooting or just producing miniature shallots for the dolls house. These were all round shallots – definitely my Waterloo. I couldn’t find banana shallots anywhere.

So this year I thought that I’d take the time to go online research some really high yielding shallots. I discovered that Marshalls were selling Eschalote Grise – 15 for £6.45 . And they were banana shallots too. Eschalote Grise originated in Kazakhstan. They are very popular in France and the preferred choice for top French chefs. Each set is said to produce 15-20 shallots, packed with flavour and acclaimed by most people who write about them. They sounded perfect so I ordered them at the beginning of August and they finally arrived today. The website wasn’t being tardy. They send stuff to be planted at the time of arrival.

To give them the best possible chance I checked on the companion planting front. I discovered that they don’t like to be planted close to peas or beans but love being planted near brassicas – increasing the yield of each. Some of our kale has never taken off and I plan to lift these stunted plants and fill the gaps with shallots. I also decided to try planting in Autumn rather than Spring to give them a longer growing period in which to become corpulent and hopefully hugely productive.

So if they do well we will be awash with shallots next summer. Splashing out a bit more cash than buying a standard pack of shallot bulbs from the garden centre might be a better investment in the end if production increases. Only time will tell.

Like all shallots these beauties need to be planted 6-8 inches/16-20cm apart in rows 12 inches/32cm apart in fertile soil that is not too wet and gets lots of sun. Perhaps that’s my problem – our kitchen garden is only sunny in the afternoon in summer. But when the leaves have fallen my winter vegetable garden gets loads of sun all day.
Marshalls have unfortunately sold out but I spotted them on the Thompson and Morgan website  site – £5.49 for 20 – the sets look smaller but you do get more for your money.

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  1. kate (uk)

    I first bought these from our grocer when we lived in Holland and have used them ever since-when I can find them- they are just the very,very best shallots. They are delicious.Good luck with them- might try to grow a few myself!

  2. Domestic Executive

    I’ve planted a few shallots this year and am looking forward to their harvest at the turn of the year.

  3. Michelle in NZ

    I sincerely hope these shallots do well for you. Was first able to buy banana shallots earlier this year – what a flavour revelation. I send positive growing thoughts to these new beauties that will be in your garden soon. What a happy cooking and eating time you’ll have when they mature!

    Also sending care and love, Michelle xxx (Zeb is snoring away again)

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