Apricot butter is a type of fruit preserve used as a spread for bread, pastries, pancakes, and more. It is called "butter" mainly because of its consistency, which is smooth and easily spreadable. Traditionally, apricot butter is made solely of fruit and spices, and does not contain any actual dairy products. Sometimes, butter whipped with apricot pieces is also called "apricot butter;" the term is usually reserved for canned or jarred apricot preserves, however.
In many respects, apricot butter is like a less refined, less sweet version of apricot jam. Jam is made by boiling fruits in sugar and water in order to get them to release their pectin and solidify. A fruit butter is usually not made with much, if any, sugar, and is more of a fruit puree than a gelled fruit. It is usually little more than softened fruit blended into smoothness with different other fruits or spices.
Making this sort of butter with apricots is usually quite straightforward. Cooks typically peel and pit the apricots, then boil them until soft — but not disintegrated. Apricots must then be removed from the water and pureed. Boiling the fruits allows them to break down and expel some of their natural water content, which makes for a thicker puree than could be achieved by simply pureeing fresh fruits.
Some cooks will also add apples, pears, cherries, or other fruits to the apricots as they boil to create a more dynamic finished spread. Making apricot butter is a good way to preserve and save fruits during the summertime. Cooks will often put any and all fruits that they have on hand into fruit butters. The basic apricot fruit butter recipe leaves a lot of room for innovation.
Most fruit butters, apricot included, are spiced rather than sweetened. Cinnamon, allspice, and cloves are common spice accompaniments to apricot butter. They are usually added just after the fruits have been pureed.
Apricot butter saves best when canned or jarred in airtight containers. As easy as it is to make, the butter is also frequently available commercially, and is usually sold on the same aisle as jams and jellies. Prepared apricot butter usually contains preservatives, and may also contain sugars.
The term "apricot butter" can also apply to apricot-flavored butter, which is usually no more than butter whipped with apricot pieces or apricot juice. This kind of apricot butter is a favorite of small bakeries and bed and breakfasts. It is often served with fruit scones or other pastries, the same way that ordinary butter would be.