The New Mexico State University chile pepper breeding program has announced the release of the cultivar NuMex NoBasco, an open-pollinated, no-heat Capsicum frutescens. Compared with C. annuum or C. chinense, there are relatively few named cultivars of C. frutescens. The most notable C. frutescens cultivar is Tabasco, with its origins in Mexico; it was named after the Mexican state of Tabasco (Greenleaf, 1975). It is best known through its use in Tabasco hot sauce, which is McIlhenny Company’s exclusive trademark for the hot sauce made from ‘Tabasco’ red ripe fruit. However, ‘Tabasco’ pepper can be used in products like pickled green–yellow immature fruit. A second notable C. frutescens cultivar is Greenleaf Tabasco. ‘Greenleaf Tabasco’ was bred to have resistance to Tobacco etch virus (TEV) (Greenleaf et al., 1970). ‘Greenleaf Tabasco’ originated from an interspecific hybridization of C. frutescens with two C. chinense accessions, followed by backcrossing to ‘Tabasco’.
The cultivar name, NuMex NoBasco, is a pun because the ‘Tabasco’ is hot, with a heat level of ≈30,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), whereas ‘NuMex NoBasco’ has no heat (i.e., 0 SHU). ‘NuMex NoBasco’ has a similar fruit color, shape, and size as ‘Tabasco’ (Fig. 1).
In the United States, hot sauces are a $1.3 billion market (Meyer, 2017). The specific type of chile pepper used to make the hot sauce provides a unique flavor profile and heat sensation (Guzman and Bosland, 2018). Low or no-heat chile peppers are indispensable to commercial salsa and hot sauce makers who have used them for years to reduce the heat in mass-produced salsas and hot sauces. To satisfy that need, the New Mexico State University chile pepper breeding program released ‘NuMex Primavera’, a low-heat jalapeno (Bosland and Votava, 1998), and ‘NuMex Trick-or-Treat’, a no-heat habanero (Bosland and Coon, 2015). The growing popularity of the heatless habanero reflects the expanding consumer preference for diverse pepper flavor profiles. Fruit retain the fruity and floral flavor without the heat.
Bosland, P.W. & Walker, S. 2014 Growing chile in New Mexico, H-230. New Mexico Coop. Ext. Serv. Guide H-230
Collins, M.D., Mayer-Wasmund, L. & Bosland, P.W. 1995 Improved method for quantifying capsaicinoids in Capsicum using high-performance liquid chromatography HortScience 30 137 139
Greenleaf, W.H., Martin, J.A., Lease, J.G., Sims, E.T. & Van Blaricom, L.O. 1970 ‘Greenleaf Tabasco’, a new tobacco etch virus resistant tabasco pepper variety (Capsicum frutescens L.). Auburn Agr. Exp. Sta. Lflt. 81
Guzman, I. & Bosland, P.W. 2018 A matter of taste: Capsaicinoid diversity in chile peppers, and the importance to human food preference, p. 57–71. In: G. Mozsik (ed.). Capsaicin and its human therapeutic development, chapter 4. IntechOpen, London, UK
Meyer, Z. 2017 Hot sauce industry sets tongues–and sales – ablaze. USA Today, 30 July 2017. 27 Feb. 2020. <https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/07/30/hot-sauce-industry-fire-supermarkets-mcdonalds/519660001/>
Xrite Inc 1980 Munsell book of color. Glossy edition. Xrite, Grand Rapids, MI