Question: I think my shallots are ready to harvest. Now what? How do you harvest, cure and peel shallots? -Paul R.
Answer: Once your shallots are ready for harvest, dig them up, and brush the soil off of them by hand. Avoid the urge to wash the shallots, as your main objective after harvesting them is to allow them to dry, or cure. To cure shallots, simply set them out in a warm, dry location for one to two weeks. After they have cured, store them in mesh bags or in baskets with good air circulation, preferably in a cool, dry, dark location. Alternatively, you can refrigerate your cured shallots to extend their shelf life a bit, or for long term storage, you can freeze them. There is no need to blanch before freezing, though blanching will help with peeling and it is not going to harm the final product, however, it is not necessary. Just peel them, chop them, and put them in freezer bags or airtight containers and they are ready for the freezer.
Peeling shallots is not a very easy process, but there is a trick that you can use that will make peeling them much easier. The reason shallots are so troublesome to peel is that their outer layer of skin is quite tough. To soften up the skin so that you can peel it off with ease, you need to blanch your shallots first.
Boil some water and drop your shallots into it for three to five minutes until the skin starts to soften up. Then, move the shallots into an ice water bath for an additional three to five minutes so that they do not continue to cook. After they have cooled for the same amount of time that they were boiled, the skins should be much easier to remove.
After blanching, use your hands, and if needed, a paring knife, to remove the outer layer of skin. Peeled shallots will stay fresh for up to one week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.