Guava Bars

20151019_200458Guavas are common tropical fruits cultivated and throughout tropical and subtropical regions, especially the Caribbean. Psidium guajava (common guava, lemon guava) is a small tree in the Myrtle family, native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America (Wikipedia). Although related species may also be called guavas, they actually belong to other genera, such as the “pineapple guava”. The most frequently eaten species, and the one often simply referred to as “the guava”, is the apple guava (Wikipedia). 

Having grown up in a tropical region and traveled throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, I have eaten guavas my entire life, and I LOVE them. For many, however, the smell is off-setting and as a dear friend once said, “I won’t eat anything a cat will bury,” guavas are under-appreciated.
Some people say that a guava tastes like a cross between a pear and a strawberry.  Guavas can be green or yellow skinned with white, pink, or dark red flesh. The flesh is soft and slightly grainy, like a pear, but sweet and slightly tart, like a strawberry, and is filled with hard, tiny seeds. Besides the seeds, guavas can be problematic because of their susceptibility to parasites and diseases.   As gross as it sounds, it’s not uncommon to cut open a guava to find worms, in which case, you throw it out…BLEH! The risk of wormy guavas is greatly decreased if you buy your guavas from the supermarket vs. a roadside produce stand. However, guavas in the supermarket don’t taste nearly as good as the ones at the produce stand, so you have to take the good with the bad.
If dealing with pealing, seeds, and worms doesn’t sound worth the effort, several companies are canning and freezing guava shells, and a few companies make guava paste, a puree of guava fruit, sugar, and pectin.  Guava paste is a flavor packed option that is ideal for baking and very common in Latin/Caribbean dishes.  If you’ve ever had a guava pastry, this is what they use.  Guava paste packs a punch without getting watery.

Guava Bars

2 sticks butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 c. all purpose flour
1 lb. guava paste
1 c. old fashioned oats
8 TBSP butter-diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. all purpose flour
Cream butter with sugar. Add salt and flour. Mix until dough holds together. Press into a 9×13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Slice guava paste and place slices to cover. Crust. In a food processor, combine oats, butter, salt, brown sugar, and flour.  Pulse until combined and crumbled.  Sprinkle over the guava paste layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool, slice, and enjoy!
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