What is Pita Bread?

Diane Goettel

Pita bread, spelled “pitta bread” in the UK, is a round leavened flatbread that is consumed all over the world in many different cultures. It is generally made with wheat but can also be made in multigrain and whole wheat varieties. Pita bread is consumed in Turkey, where it is called pide bread, Romania, and Greece, to name just a few places. In fact, the word pita is a Greek term, which means “flat.” However, the word also has ties to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Romanian languages. Pat is the Hebrew word for “loaf.” In ancient Aramaic texts, the word pita was used to describe bread in general. Pita also exists in ancient Romanian as a word for bread.

Pitas generally have two layers that present a pocket after baking.
Pitas generally have two layers that present a pocket after baking.

Although the above-mentioned countries consume pita bread as part of their traditional cuisine, it is now popular throughout the world. In addition to being flat, this bread generally has two layers which, after baking separate to form an internal pocket. This pocket occurs because of the extremely high temperatures at which the bread is baked. At these high temperatures, the dough expands very quickly, separating in the middle and creating a large bubble of air inside. When the bread has finished baking and cools, it flattens out but maintains its internal pocket. When the bread is cut in half, it yields two crescent-shaped pockets of bread. This pocket can be used to hold meats, cheeses, cooked vegetables, even salads. Traditional dishes including pita bread are souvlaki, falafel, and kebabs.

Pitas can be made in different versions, including multigrain and whole wheat.
Pitas can be made in different versions, including multigrain and whole wheat.

Pita bread is also commonly used for dipping, especially in olive oil or hummus. This type of bread became popular in Western cultures in the 1970s. Pita sandwiches, also called “pita pockets” or “pocket pitas” became quite popular, especially in the realm of health food. In the West, pita chips have been developed as a healthy alternative to potato chips. Pita chips are triangles of toasted pita bread. Sometimes these chips are flavored with salt and herbs. Pita bread has become so popular in fact, that some fast food chains in the West have begun to offer pita sandwiches.

Pita bread.
Pita bread.
A gyro sandwich made with pita bread.
A gyro sandwich made with pita bread.
Hummus is a great dip for pita bread.
Hummus is a great dip for pita bread.
Flour made from wheat may give pita bread a heartier flavor.
Flour made from wheat may give pita bread a heartier flavor.

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Discussion Comments

discographer

@anon248933-- That's a good question. But I think pita bread goes back such a long time, it's difficult to know how or when it came about.

It must have been found in the Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and/or Southeast Asian area though because it's most common there.

People have been making bread for thousands of years. Flat-bread goes back even longer than rising bread because it doesn't require yeast. It's a very simple recipe with just flour and water, and in some cases butter or oil. So it has been around for a long time.

Traditional pita bread was and is still made in a stone oven by the way which is sort of like a hole but surrounded with stone. The fire is burned in the center of the hole and the bread is placed by the fire to bake.

bear78

The problem with pita bread is that the whole wheat one doesn't taste good and the white one gives me constipation if I have it regularly.

I have tried so many different kinds of whole wheat pita bread and have not found one that tasted good.

ZipLine

@musicshaman-- My favorite pita bread for gyros is the Greek pita bread. It's also sold as "naan" at Indian grocery stores. It's a lot thicker and softer than the Middle Eastern pita bread. It also doesn't have that second layer, so it's one thick piece. I feel that it fills me up more and I think it tastes better too.

I don't just eat this bread with gyros either, I eat it with everything. I have it for breakfast with eggs or cheese and alongside meals sometimes.

anon248933

For school, I have to find the history of pita bread but I've checked every website and I can't find it.

If anyone has any suggestions as to where I can find the history of pita bread, or if they know the history, I'd love to hear it.

musicshaman

Is there a certain kind of pita bread that's best for gyros, or will any pita bread do?

My school is having a Greek festival, and I'm supposed to bring pita bread for the gyros, but I'm really not sure what kind to get.

You never think about it, but there are actually tons of different kinds of pita bread. I mean, even my little local grocery store has white pita bread, wheat pita bread, spinach based pita bread, and even something called quick pita bread, although I'm not exactly sure what that is.

Is there a certain kind of pita bread that is best for making large quantities of gyros, like you would for a festival, or should I just get whichever one is on sale? Does anybody reading this have any idea? I really don't know anything about Greek food (this will be my first time trying it!), so any and all suggestions would be appreciated!

musicshaman

Is there a certain kind of pita bread that's best for gyros, or will any pita bread do?

My school is having a Greek festival, and I'm supposed to bring pita bread for the gyros, but I'm really not sure what kind to get.

You never think about it, but there are actually tons of different kinds of pita bread. I mean, even my little local grocery store has white pita bread, wheat pita bread, spinach based pita bread, and even something called quick pita bread, although I'm not exactly sure what that is.

Is there a certain kind of pita bread that is best for making large quantities of gyros, like you would for a festival, or should I just get whichever one is on sale? Does anybody reading this have any idea?

StreamFinder

I am such a fan of pita bread, but whenever I try to make it it never turns out all that well. I usually end up with either with something that's huge and soggy like a pillow, or something that's flat like a cracker.

It's a shame though, because pita bread has good nutrition value, especially when you pair it with something else healthy, like hummus. That's my favorite lunch, actually -- a little bit of pita bread and hummus.

That's why I keep trying to make them -- I think that I've got all the right pita bread ingredients, but I just can't seem to get the texture right.

If anybody has any ideas or tips for me, I'd love to hear it -- then maybe I could save a little money on my massive pita bread habit!

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