Shallots have an elongated, oblong shape with a rounded center, tapering to a point at both ends. The bulbs are encased in a dry and papery, thin skin that flakes when touched and ranges in color from copper, gold, pale pink, to red. When the papery layers are removed, multiple clusters of cloves are found divided into individually wrapped segments similar to garlic. The firm, dense, and semi-dry flesh is off-white to translucent with light purple or red rings. Shallots are aromatic with a complex blend of spicy, sweet, and pungent flavors. When raw, the cloves are crisp and astringent, and when cooked, they develop a delicate, sweet, and savory taste with flavors reminiscent of garlic.
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