Pear Necessities

Oriana's amazing Asian pears are back

Oriana Kruszewski planted her first Asian pear tree because she missed the fruit of her native China.

Thirty years and 500 trees later, you'll find her at Green City Market each fall, with bushels of crisp, crunchy Asian pears more flavorful and varied than any you'll ever find in a grocery store.

Of the 20 varieties she grows organically at her Winslow, Illinois, orchard, three or four make it to the markets each week. Currently, her haul includes light, refreshing Chinese pears and Japanese Chojuro pears, which have sugary, flowery-tasting flesh ($6 for a mixed bag of a dozen).

This Saturday she'll have Naju pears from Korea, and the perennial crowd-pleasers, sweet Korean Giants, will be ready in two weeks. If a pear is on her table, you know it's ready to eat: She only picks them at their peak, and unlike their European relatives, Asian pears never soften (they'll last for months in the refrigerator).

Kruszewski's green thumb doesn't stop at pears: She sells paw-paws (but hurry, they'll disappear after this week), Goji berry plants, persimmons and even black walnuts–but hasn't had time to crack, wash and dry them yet (they'll be ready in three weeks, she promises).

Find Oriana at Green City Market on Wednesdays, Evanston on Saturdays and Botanic Garden on Sundays through October, and the Green City Market's indoor space starting in November.