New Mexico 6-4 was one of the earliest New Mexican type cultivars released and was prized for its rich flavorwhen it was originally released. Unfortunately, over time the purity and quality of the ‘New Mexico 6-4’ changed-or “ran out” to use a term from the Chile Pepper Industry. Cultivars can change over time for a number of reasons, such as cross-pollination, seed mixes, mislabeling, etc. Changes seen in the New Mexico 6-4 include an increase in the variability of heat levels, yield, maturity date, fruit characteristics, and most importantly a loss of flavor.
In 1998, Dr. Paul Bosland obtained seed of the original ‘New Mexico 6-4’ that had been frozen in liquid nitrogen at the USDA’s National Seed Storage Lab in Fort Collins, Colorado. For three years he increased the seed in isolated cages, developing 27 breeding lines. Members of the New Mexico Chile Commission visited these lines in the field for a taste test; they tasted the chile pepper pods from each plant, and tagged the ones that had the most flavor and best taste. To double-check that the flavor was outstanding, they analyzed the green chile on a mass spectrophotometer and found that the new line, ‘NuMex Heritage 6-4,’ had five times more flavor compounds than the current green chile cultivar being grown in commercial production.
‘NuMex Heritage 6-4’ captures the rich tasting flavor of ‘New Mexico 6-4.’ It is more flavorful than the mass produced chile peppers used in the commercial processing industry today. Each thick walled pod will reach up to 5 to 8 inches in length. This is considered a Mild chile that comes flame roasted, whole or chopped. ‘NuMex Heritage 6-4’ has more flavor compounds, the smell is much stronger and the chile flavor is much more intense when roasted! Humans have 400 genes for smell and the aroma of this chile pepper gives them a good workout.
Since developing the 6-4 Heritage Green Chile variety, Dr. Bosland has come out with two other Heritage lines including a Heritage Big Jim Medium and a Heritage Sandia Hot. In 2015 we will have NuMex Heritage 6-4 but Big Jim and Sandia are undergoing further improvements at NMSU. We can ship Heritage 6-4 anywhere in the US either freshly picked or flame roasted, frozen, and packaged in vacuum sealed bags.