A farmer has created the first-ever shallot to be on British soil – shaped like a BANANA.
Dedicated John Rowswell has invested ten years and thousands of pounds into engineering the popular vegetable by painstakingly cross-pollinating plants.
But finally the bendy bulb – named the ‘Barrington Banana’ after the village where he lives near Ilminster, Somerset – is ready to hit the shelves.
John, 50, said: ”I love shallots and wanted to create something that was totally unique for British horticulture.
”There are 32 listed types of shallot and there’s not one like this one.
”Only two types are grown from seeds, including mine, and ours is female while the other is male.
”It’s such a useful vegetable – as well as being sweet to taste and really is delicious to eat.
”I want this creation to be something I will be remembered for long into the future.”
Married John has spent his life growing vegetables and is one of the country’s biggest garlic producers.
Along with wife Pamela and three-year-old son Henry, he cultivates 50 types of vegetables, including nine varieties of tomato.
His award-winning produce is snapped up by some of the country’s top chefs and even film legend Michael Caine orders artichokes from John’s top-notch crop.
But a decade ago he embarked on a project to craft his own unique shallot – codenaming his top-secret pollination technique ‘007’.
After cross-pollinating three plants he finally crafted his recipe for the vegetable – a relative of the onion – and created seeds to grow the four-inch golden-brown bulbs, which are said to be sweeter than traditional shallots.
He has remortgaged his home and estimated he has spent £7,500 getting the product prepared.
They now need to be given final approval by the final Food and Environmental Research Agency (FERA) before they can be listed on the European Seed Register.
And John is hoping someone will help him out with the £1,500 fee.
He said: ”I have put so much into this, putting a mortgage on the house, as well as using most of the money in our business. We now can’t afford the final test.
”I have been committed to growing vegetables ever since I nurtured my first radish when I was five-year-old.
”My grandfather showed me how to build a wigwam for beans and now I can’t walk past a vegetable shop without going in it.
”Now I’m so close to producing my own type of shallot – I never thought I would make it this far.
”It has taken a lot of time and self-belief and now I just need a little bit of help to get over the line.”
The shallot was first grown in the Middle East, working its way through the region before entering Europe and becoming a household name in France.
They can be freshly cooked, pickled or deep fried.
The vegetable’s name originates from Ashkelon, an Israeli city, where Greek legend depicts that shallots first surfaced.