GLASSBORO — Competition was fierce for the South Jersey grand champion amid five perfect peach pies, each of which won competitions at South Jersey farmers markets sponsored by the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council.

Judging criteria were appearance, crust, amount of fruit and flavor and overall impressions. Tough job for judges Arturo and Teresa at Calabria Pizza and Italian Grill in Absecon. Each pie was beautiful, but different.

The winner of the $300 grand prize was Lisa Montana, with her son Tobin as co-baker, whose pie took first place at the Gloucester County 4-H Fair & Peach Festival, among eight entries.

Other finalists:

• Jeanenne Weinstein, winner at Margate Farmers Market;

• Jan Pask, winner at Wildwood Farmers Market;

• Sosy Shishmanian, winner at Brigantine Farmers Market; and

• Johanna Johnson, winner at Hammonton Farmers Market.

All competitors said they had a lot of fun and vowed to try again next year.

The PPC’s Perfect Peach Pie/Cobbler competitions were launched in 2012 as options at farmers markets across the state as part of their specially designated “Peach Days” during July and August. Market winners go on to compete for two grand prizes of $300 each — one for North Jersey competitors and one for South Jersey competitors.

“So far, we haven’t had any contestants who gave up their careers to become professional pastry chefs,” said Santo John Maccherone, chair of the PPC. “But they seem to enjoy testing their baking skills. The special 'Peach Days' at farmers markets, farms, supermarkets and restaurants definitely heighten awareness of our locally grown peaches.”

In 2018, New Jersey peach production was 23,000 tons, valued at more than $41 million, making the state third in the nation among growers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service. The 2019 statistics have not yet been compiled.

The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is a nonprofit voluntary organization of growers, shippers, wholesalers and associated industries dedicated to maintaining a viable peach industry in the Garden State for the purpose of preserving farmers and farmland, and providing the highest quality and best tasting fresh peaches for consumers. With approximately 55 orchards on 5,000 acres, New Jersey vies for being third or fourth (depending on yield per year) largest peach producing state in the country.

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