Leeks and shallots have arrived at Rainbow Gardens and we are super excited to have these bulb vegetables available to offer you this year! Leeks and shallots are both in the allium family and they possess many of the characteristics of onions. However, both leeks and shallots, while flavorful, are not as pungent as onions are. These veggies are a great choice for those who love flavor but prefer a more mild, sweet, and delicate taste than what onions can offer. Here’s a little info on how to use them, and how to grow them. You know where to come get them!
How to Use Leeks
Leeks are veggies composed of tightly wrapped, long, cylindrical leaves. Their bottoms (which are mostly used) are white from being blanched under soil and their tops can be green to greenish-blue. Leeks are not only used for flavor, as many plants in the allium family are, but are also eaten as stand alone vegetable side. Leeks sauteed in a pan with butter and sea salt is a delicious way to enjoy them. Braised leeks, potato leek soup, parmesan roasted leeks, the list of recipes goes on.
How to Plant and Harvest Leeks
-Leeks prefer soil rich in organic matter that drains well with no standing water.
-Leeks should be planted in a garden that receives full sun.
-Space leeks 6 inches apart in rows that are 12 inches apart.
-Dig a hole about 6 inches deep, place leek in hole, fill hole with water. The tops of your leek should be sticking out about 2-3 inches above the soil.
-Keep weeded and watered.
-As leeks grow, to get that nice, white color at the base, pull loose soil up around the stems of leeks in order to blanch them.
-It’s time to harvest your leeks when the stems are anywhere from a half inch to two inches in diameter.
-Dig under the leeks with a fork with one hand while pulling them from the ground with the other.
How to Use Shallots
Shallots have a much sweeter, subtler taste than onions, but yet still carry an intense flavor that has hints of garlic. Because of their mild taste, they are perfect for when you want the crunch of a raw onion but not the pungent kick. Shallots contain antioxidant properties so tossing some slices on a salad makes your salad even healthier. Their sweet taste also gets brought out when braised or roasted. Shallot vinaigrettes are a popular way to use shallots. I’ve seen recipes for balsamic shallot sauce and caramelized shallots that I can’t wait to try out.
How to Grow and Harvest Shallots
-Shallots prefer soil rich in organic matter that drains well with no standing water.
-Shallots should be planted in a garden that receives full sun.
-Space shallots 6 inches apart in rows that are 12 inches apart.
-Using a trowel, dig to a depth that when the shallot is planted, only the pointy tip of the bulb is showing.
-Keep weeded and watered.
-Did you know you can harvest the tops of shallots and use them as a substitute for chives?
-Small bulb clusters are formed in springtime.
-You’ll know it’s time to harvest shallots when the foliage begins to shrivel and dry.
– Ease the bulbs up out of the soil with a fork allow them to dry on some wire netting (somewhere with air circulation).
-Once foliage is completely dry, separate bulbs and allow them to dry again for another 3-4 weeks before using.
Extra tip: Companion plant your leeks and shallots with parsley as it is a common deterrent to the onion fly, a pest that lays eggs in onion bulbs (and plants in that family).
Our bundles of leeks and shallots come with about 50-60 plants. That’s enough for you to try out all sorts of leek and shallot recipes, or enough for you to share your harvest with some friends! Eat fresh in 2021!
The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy