Difference between Onions and Shallots

 

Key difference: Onions grow as an individual mature bulb per plant, which when cut open, reveals multiple layers. Shallots, like garlic, grow in clusters of bulbs. They have a firm texture, sweet, aromatic, and pungent flavor.

 

Onions and shallots are commonly used interchangeably. Many don’t even recognize the difference between the two. Due to the similarities between them, many actually believe that shallots are just smaller onions. When in actuality, they are two different species.

 

Onions are big bulbs that grow underground. Onions grow as an individual mature bulb per plant, which when cut open, reveals multiple layers. Shallots, on the other hand are similar to onions, but are milder in taste. They tend to grow in clusters of bulbs, like garlic. Shallots are native to Central and Southeast Asia.

 

Onions and shallots are both most commonly used in cooking. They have the same uses in food preparation, and can be used interchangeably for the most part. They can be eaten raw, pickled, powdered, dried, or cooked and caramelized. Shallots tend to have a firmer texture, and a more sweet, aromatic, and pungent flavor. Their taste is defined as more like a cross between garlic and onions. Many prefer shallots to onions, as shallots have a milder onion flavor, as oppose to the sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent full flavor of the onion.

 

Both, onions and shallots are considered to be healthy and are recommended as part of a healthy and nutritious diet. All onion varieties have phenols and flavonoids, known as vitamin P and citrin, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-allergic properties. Shallots tend to contain more of these compounds than onions. Also, consuming ample amounts of onions is very beneficial to women because onions help destroy osteoclasts, a bone cell that breaks down bone and causes osteoporosis.

 

A complete comparison between onions and shallots:

 

 

Onions

Shallots

Kingdom

Plantae

Plantae

Order

Asparagales

Asparagales

Family

Amaryllidaceae

Amaryllidaceae

Subfamily

Allioideae

Allioideae

Genus

Allium

Allium

Species

A. cepa

A. cepa var. aggregatum

Description

Big bulbs that grow underground. Grows as an individual mature bulb per plant. The bulb, when cut open, reveals multiple layers.

Looks like a small, elongated onion with a copper, reddish, or gray skin. When peeled, shallots separate into cloves like garlic.

Color and types

Common onions are normally available in three colors: yellow, red, and white. Yellow onions, also called brown onions, are full-flavored and are a reliable standby for cooking almost anything. The red onion is a good choice for fresh uses or in grilling and char-broiling. White onions are the traditional onion used in classic Mexican cuisine. They have a golden color and sweet flavor when sautéed.

Skin color can vary from golden brown to gray to rose red, and their off-white flesh is usually tinged with green or magenta.

Flavor

Sharp sulfuric flavor, pungent, persistent, even irritating taste, but when sautéed, onion becomes sweet and much less pungent.

Mild onion flavor, between the flavor of garlic and onion, sweeter than onions. Pair well with chicken and fish.

Benefits

Phenols and flavonoids, known as vitamin P and citrin, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-allergic properties.

More phenols and flavonoids, known as vitamin P and citrin, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-allergic properties.

Uses in cooking

Fresh cooking, raw in cold salads, as a thickening agent for curries, pickled onions, as a side serving with fish and chip.

Fresh cooking, pickled, as elementary spices, as condiment (finely sliced and deep-fried).

Uses in medicine

Wide-ranging claims have been made for the effectiveness of onions against conditions ranging from the common cold to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases. They contain chemical compounds believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant properties, such as quercetin. Preliminary studies have shown increased consumption of onions reduces the risk of head and neck cancers. Consuming ample amounts of onions is very beneficial to women because onions help destroy osteoclasts, a bone cell that breaks down bone and causes osteoporosis. They are also used to heal blisters, boils, and even sore throat.

Treatment for sore throat with honey.

Other uses

Onion skins have been used for dye. Many believe them to be them to be an aphrodisiac. Onions were once prescribed by doctors to help with infertility in women.

Some believe them to be them to be an aphrodisiac, as they are quite often interchangeable with onions.

 

 

Image Courtesy: inkingrey.com
Image Courtesy: gourmetsleuth.com
 

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