Help me with pocket pitas

I’m a long-time professional cook, but pita bread is just something that hasn’t happened to appear on the menu of any establishment that’s employed me, and I’m having a bit of trouble with these things. I loves me some sandwiches at home, but I’m trying to cut down on how much bread I’m eating by using some of these new “thin” breads (basically, buns and sub rolls that are much thinner than usual), and I thought I’d give pitas a try as well.

Problem is … I can’t get the “pocket” open without completely shredding the bread and rendering the pocket useless. The ones I picked up are pretty darned thin to begin with — less than 1/4" thick — which means the walls of the pocket are very thin, and trying to open it up just tears through.

Is there some special trick to this that I’m not seeing?

I’d like to know the good tip on this one, too. My only contribution is that I had some come out OK – thin, with well-defined pockets, but sturdy – by using a friend’s wood-fired oven and I think I either used some rye flour + white (AP) or maybe just whole wheat + AP. I really don’t remember, but they have never come out the way they’re supposed to at 500F in my home electric oven directly on a large preheated stone. It’s like witchcraft, or voodoo, or something.

Warm it up a bit in the oven or a skillet.

The professionals use box cutters.

It sounds, though, that you aren’t making them quite right - a proper pita should have a lot more structural integrity than what you’re describing. Don’t ask me how to make them, though. Terrific pitas are so easy to find here, and are so cheap, that I’ve never heard of anyone making them at home.

I don’t think he’s actually making the bread, just the sandwich.

Damn. I totally misread the OP. You’re right, Contrapuntal. My only advice is: persevere.

I can offer no help, just consolation.
It isn’t rocket science, after all. Folks have been making it for thousands of years with a hot rock.

Terminological nitpick - a pita isn’t a sandwich, it’s a pita. If you put hummus inside, you have a pita with hummus. If you put falafel inside, you have falafel in a pita.

Anyway, if you don’t feel like using a box cutter, just tear a half-inch strip off the top with your fingers like us regular slobs.

Pita sandwiches.

His problem isn’t cutting the bread, it’s opening it after it has been cut.

Heat it up rapidly, like inside a toaster. The air inside expands it into a bready bubble, then you can just slit one edge.

ETA: I’m with Alessan on this; it’s a pita not a sandwich, despite the 5.8 million Google hits that disagree with us.

Just because a bunch of foreigners use a term, doesn’t make it correct.

Ah. Then the only solution is to find a better pita supplier. With properly made pitas, there shouldn’t be any problem with opening the pocket.

If your “terminology nitpick” remark was intended to be humorous, as this one seems to be, I don’t get it. At any rate, “pita sandwich” is clearly in general use. And more to the point, it served to clarify the distinction (that you seemed to have missed, and your pedantry would leave ambiguous) between making the bread, and making the finished menu item. Or food thingie. Or encapsulated ingredients. Or, more simply, the sandwich.

Seconding the “get a better supplier.” I’ve noticed a big difference between the run-of-the-mill grocery store pitas and the ones I get at, say, Trader Joe’s. Heat them a bit so they are pliable, cut the end off and stuff.

Keep in mind too that not all pita’s are meant to have pockets. Greek pita’s don’t open they’re just torn, cut or used as wraps. Make sure you’re getting the right kind.

Hey, I’m just trying to help here.

It’s a bit like using the term “pizza pie.” Sure, it’s technically correct, but unless you actually are Dean Martin, saying it makes you sound a bit provincial.

Heh. Yes, I bought pocket pitas (specifically labeled as such) at the grocery store.

My mom used to bake a bread she called “Arabic bread”, which were round loaves that came out about an inch thick and maybe six inches in diameter, and when you cut them in half they big, roomy pockets that you could stuff with all sorts of things. I was hoping pita bread would be similar, but the ones I have seem to require a lot of careful effort to split the pocket open. I’m guessing the difference is that the Arabic bread may have been leavened, while the pita isn’t. Maybe I just need to shop around and find a different brand. I also tried some “pocketless” pita bread, but I didn’t care for the texture. I thought I’d roll or fold it with the ingredients inside, but it would just break when I tried. So I tried warming it in the microwave, but that just turned it crunchy, even when only zapped for a few seconds.

I get the really thin pita bread sometimes; usually, when you cut the pita in half (into two half-moons, IOW), if you look at the ‘cut’ or flat end, there will be one distinctive ‘almost-open’ part in one corner. Get a butter knife or paring knife, slide it into that little breach in the bread’s defenses, and work it open pretty gently.

Stuff as desired.


Or at least lunch.


I made these damn things for years back in the 80’s.

Heat it up briefly in a manner that won’t dry it out. Toasting or a regular oven makes them more brittle. Microwave for 10 seconds or steam it. Then cut it into halves and you should be able to work each pocket open fairly easily. Then mount the pocket opening over a small cup or other thing that will force the shape while it cools in about a minute or two.

I’ve noticed that some brands just don’t want to open up very well, so you might just be working with a bad (for stuffing purposes) brand of pita.

It is “pita”, not “pita bread”, so I’ll go with “a pita” rather than “pita sandwich”.
I usually just call it “falafel”. :slight_smile:

I find that the following works: heat your broiler to high. Moisten each side of the pita lightly with a touch of cold water (and I mean very lightly). Heat both sides under broiler for a minute. Stuff the resulting pocket with whatever you desire.