How To Tell if Shallots Are Bad?

Some may think that shallots and onions are the same things when in fact, they aren’t. They are actually their own species.

Close relatives of shallots include garlic, leek, chive, and Chinese onion. One of the main ways to distinguish a shallot from an onion is its smaller size, faster cooking inside, and milder flavor.

Since these are a favorite of many, including us, they tend to get purchased in bulk. This leaves us to question how to tell if shallots have gone bad.

You can tell shallots have gone bad if you notice dark patches, mold, a bad smell, yellowish or orangish discoloration, and/or a mushy, gooey soft texture that may also ooze. 

If you plan on buying big bags of shallots, you should certainly know how long they last and what you can do to preserve their shelf life.

We will go over all of that in this article including what to look for when shallots spoil, how to preserve them better, and at what temperatures they’re best stored. 

How To Tell If Shallots Are Bad

You can tell if shallots are bad if they have dark patches, mold,  a mushy, soft, gooey inside, or smell mildewy and/or sour. 

Here are some of the easiest ways, in detail, to tell whether or not your shallots are still good for consumption. 


A healthy shallot is firm with no blemishes. Shallots that have spoiled will have dark patches and even mold.

If you spot mold or dark patches in the shallots, they should be thrown away immediately. You may find that mold will form on onions that are kept in the refrigerator for a long time.

Additionally, the spoiled shallots will have a yellowish or orangish color to them. 


Bad shallots will have a mushy, soft, gooey inside and may even secrete liquids. If they have reached this stage, absolutely do not eat them.

Eating spoiled shallots can cause some serious issues with your intestinal system. Shallots that have reached this stage most likely have an overabundance of bacteria growth. 


Most of the time, shallots don’t have a smell to them. However, if they do, this is a good sign that they’re no longer good. They’ll smell a little like mildew or have a sour smell if they’re no longer good. 

There are all kinds of shallots and some of them have different requirements for remaining fresh. 

Types of Shallots

Whenever you’re buying shallots, there are a couple of types to choose from. The first kind is Gray or “French” shallots. These are considered “real” shallots to purists. 

Next are the pink or “Jersey” shallots. These are the most frequently used in North America.

They’re rosy in color and resemble smaller red onions with a more pale color. These have an identical flavor to gay shallots.

Lastly are the Enchalion or “banana” shallots. These are a crossover between shallots and onions. They’re larger than the average shallot but have a mild flavor. 

These are generally the three classes found all over the world. However, there are sometimes specific local variations.

The Persian Shallow is recognized as a completely different species. The original shallot is found in Central and Southwest Asia with the name stemming from Canaanite City, Ashkelon. This is where the veggie had migrated to when the ancient Greeks discovered it. 

Now that you know what types of shallots there are, here’s how to best preserve them. 

Shelf Life of Shallots

The shelf life of a shallot depends on its storage conditions and the temperature at which they’re stored. 

Whole Shallots

Whole shallots are best when stored at or below room temperature. When properly stored in a pantry, whole shallots can last 4 to 5 weeks.

The key to this longevity is dark, cool, and well-ventilated places. If you live in a hot and humid climate without an air-conditioned pantry, they’ll grow moldy and rot within a few weeks to a month.

The temperature should never be above 80 degrees in the daytime temperature and above 50% humidity. 

If you choose to freeze them at temperatures between 32-40 degrees, they will remain edible for up to 6 months or maybe even longer. When you thaw them, they’ll be very soft since they’re mostly made of water and fiber. 

Storing them in the bottom half of your fridge is a bad idea. The moisture buildup will cause them to rot quicker. They won’t last more than 2-3 weeks.

They should be placed at the very back of your refrigerator away from any heat that may come from opening the door. 

Chopped Shallots

Chopped shallots won’t fare very well on the counter. You’ll get a few hours out of them if that.

Chopped Shallots

Chopped shallots should be put in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. In the refrigerator, they will last up to 4 days. 

The chopped shallots should be properly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator if you want to extend their lifespan.

When chopped shallots come in contact with air, the oxidation process starts. When this happens, the essential vitamins in the shallots will disappear.

You can avoid this by consuming chopped shallots on the same day, but if you can’t, put them in a mesh bag in the fridge. 

If you plan to freeze them, you should first peel them and then put them in a freezer bag and suck all the air out of it as you can.

The less air in the bag, the better. In this environment, they’ll last 3 months. 

Cooked shallots will last 10 to 12 months in the freezer, but may remain safe for consumption beyond that time. 

Dried or Pickled Shallots

Generally, anything pickled or dried will last much longer than anything fresh. If you buy dried or pickled shallots, they generally have a longer lifespan.

They generally last around 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Once opened, pickled shallots will go bad quicker than if they weren’t pickled. Once opened, they should be consumed within 2 days. 

Dried shallots have a shelf life of 6 months or longer.  They can be stored in the open, but you may need to freeze them if you live in a hot, humid climate. 

Dried Shallots

No matter what type of shallot you purchase, there’s always the risk of accidental consumption because you may not see the signs right away. 

Diced< 1 day7-10 days3 months
Peeled10 days1-2 monthsUp to 2 months
Raw & Fresh1 monthUp to 2 months2-3 months
Cooked<1 day4 days10-12 months
Pickled2 days3 weeksN/A
Dried6 months> 6 months>6 months

Risks of Consumption of Spoiled Shallots

We can’t say that we’ve never accidentally consumed spoiled shallots before. The only way we found out was when our stomachs started to turn a little.

Consuming spoiled shallots won’t necessarily kill you, but you may feel like you want to die due to diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. 

Eating spoiled shallots can cause Salmonella, E. Coli, and even Listeria. You can get these even from good shallots due to cross-contamination, but it’s more likely to happen in spoiled veggies due to bacteria growth. 

The lesser of the three evils is Salmonella. This can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.

Symptoms can appear within six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days, but some have reported symptoms for several weeks. 

E. Coli outbreaks happen frequently due to contaminated food, but they can also come from spoiled food.

Most types are completely harmless, but certain strains can cause serious foodborne illnesses. 

Lastly, Listeria is the most serious of them all. You get this when food is contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

You’ll experience flu-like symptoms such as chills, muscle aches, diarrhea, and an upset stomach. 

If you want to avoid premature spoilage of your shallots, here are some tips and tricks to keep them fresher for longer. 

Help Keep Shallots from Going Bad Too Quickly

We’ve named a couple of ways to preserve shallots above, but there are some other tips that you should be aware of. 

First, you should keep them stored in a way that they’re able to breathe. They’re generally sold in mesh bags for this reason.

However, if you get them in plastic-wrapped bags, tear a hole large enough for them to breathe.

Additionally, you can store them in paper bags that you may perforate at regular intervals to help with ventilation. 

Additionally, you should avoid storing them with other fruits or veggies. Never store them with potatoes.

The gasses that are released by the two of them are not simpatico and will cause shallots to rot even quicker. 

Additionally, don’t store bananas or apples with shallots. These fruits and veggies emit ethylene gas and it will accelerate the ripening process. This will cause the shallots to rot quicker. 

Final Thoughts

Shallots are a wonderful veggie that adds a fantastic and subtle taste and flavor to your dishes, sides, or even pickles.

It’s important that they’re purchased while they’re fresh without any visible scars, dents, or rot. If you do notice a bad shallot in your bag, throw that one away to avoid spreading.

Make sure they’re stored in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area to keep them from rotting quickly so you can enjoy them at their best. 

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