A pitch for picking up guavas at the market

Gabriela Mlynarczyk, the mixologist at Birch, walks us through how to make a refreshing guavatini. Then farmer Leti Garcia gives Laura Avery tips on how to eat the white-, pink- and orange-fleshed fruit.

You eat a guava, “just like an apple, seeds, skin and all.” That’s a tip from Leti Garcia. Her family’s orchard has roughly 75 guava trees growing on a 30-acre parcel of land in Fallbrook, California. The oldest tree in the ground at Garcia’s Organic Farms was planted in 1988.

Lety Garcia. Joseph Stone/KCRW
Leti Garcia sells guava for $5 a pound at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. (Photo by Joseph Stone/KCRW)

Contrary to popular opinion, Garcia says, guavas with pink flesh are not always the most flavorful. Guavas with orange flesh taste tangy, like pineapples, and white-fleshed guavas are creamy, less fragrant than their pink-fleshed cousins. The larger the guava, the more meat you will find inside. “Don’t scoop the seeds out because the sweetest part is in the middle. Swallow the seeds.”

Guava are in season now at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Joseph Stone/KCRW
Guavas, in all their glory, are in season now in the Southland. (Photo by Joseph Stone/KCRW)

The Garcia orchard is perched atop a mountain, where the trees benefit from Southern California’s warm temps and ocean breezes. In a normal year, the trees produce fruit from August to January. “You can eat a guava when it is as hard as a rock, but some people prefer them soft like pudding,” she says.

Gaby Mlynarczyk makes a mean guavatini at Birch in Hollywood. Joseph Stone/KCRW
Mixologist Gabriela Mlynarczyk makes guavatinis at Birch in Hollywood. (Photo by Joseph Stone/KCRW)

If you prefer to drink your guava instead of eating it in the raw, Birch mixologist Gabriela Mlynarczyk has a recipe she recommends to make a refreshing guavatini. “It goes down like water, it’s so tasty,” she says. “Because the guavas are so fragrant and really potent, you get huge amounts of flavors from them. They’re just completely intoxicating.”